GLAAD finds movies lag behind TV in LGBT roles
This film image released by Focus Features shows the animated character Mitch, voiced by Casey Affleck, in a scene from "ParaNorman." The character Mitch in the 2012 “ParaNorman” was revealed at the end to be gay. The GLAAD advocacy group says that movie was an exception in a year that showed Hollywood’s major studios are reluctant to include LGBT characters in important roles in their films. (AP Photo/Focus Features)
NEW YORK (AP) — We may be seeing more prominent gay and lesbian characters on TV shows, but the movie industry lags well behind the small screen, an advocacy group reports.
In its first study of LGBT roles in major studio releases, GLAAD found that compared with TV, where there has been a significant shift over the past decade, "Major studios appear reluctant to include LGBT characters in significant roles or franchises."
In its report released Wednesday, GLAAD, formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, found that of 101 releases from Hollywood's six major studios in 2012, just 14 included characters identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Most were no more than cameos or minor roles, it said — and none of the films tracked had transgender characters.
"Until LGBT characters appear more regularly in these studio films, there will be the appearance of bias," said Wilson Cruz, GLAAD's national spokesperson, in an interview. He added that his organization will be meeting with studio executives to discuss the findings.
There were some bright spots in 2012, and some more ambiguous ones, the group said. For example, "Skyfall," the hugely successful installment of the James Bond franchise, featured a main villain, played by Javier Bardem, who was apparently bisexual.
"It was great to see an LGBT character in such a significant role," said Matt Kane, associate director of entertainment media at GLAAD, also in an interview. "But unfortunately the character was also devious, psychotic, and untrustworthy — it fell into that trap."
As genre films like comic book adaptations consume much of the studios' capital and promotional efforts, the report says, such films have a striking lack of LGBT characters. In "The Avengers," it notes, there is a gay news anchor, but his appearance is "so brief it was likely missed by many viewers."
This film image released by Focus Features shows the animated characters Courtney Babcock, voiced by Anna Kendrick, left, Norman Babcock, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee, second left, Neil, voiced by Tucker Albrizzi, second right, and Mitch, voiced by Casey Affleck, right, in a scene from "ParaNorman." The character Mitch in the 2012 “ParaNorman” was revealed at the end to be gay. The GLAAD advocacy group says that movie was an exception in a year that showed Hollywood’s major studios are reluctant to include LGBT characters in important roles in their films. (AP Photo/Focus Features)
The report — called the 2013 Studio Responsibility Index — rates each of the six studios according to the LGBT-inclusive films they released. Faring worst: 20th Century Fox and Disney, which each receive "failing" grades; the other four — Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. — receive grades of "adequate." But Universal fared best, with four of its 16 releases considered LGBT-inclusive.