I finally processed the information on the leads for the top 250 grossing films (I’m going to do 500 in all), and I have some really, really great facts:
- Of the films, 209 starred a straight white man, or had a straight white male voice actor. This translates to 83.6% of all these films having a straight white male protagonist.
- This left only 41 films with a protagonist who was a person of colour and/or woman (no films had a queer protagonist). This translated to 16.4% of all the films.
- "So what? Straight white men are the majority group in America." a) no, the largest demographic group in America is actually technically straight white women, and b) not by 83.6% they fucking aren’t.
- If we look at American demographics (America is where these films are being made and mostly marketed for, after all) we find that only 31.3% of people in the USA are straight white men, while 68.7% are not.
- This means that 31.3% of the US population is recieving 83.6% of the representation, and the remaining 68.7% majority are squabbling over the remaining 16.4%. That’s unbelievably, amazingly shit.
BUT: The world isn’t split into straight white men and everyone else, so let’s break this down further. Of the 41 films left over for the rest of us:
- 10 starred a straight black man. (8 of these leads were played by Will Smith.), making up 2.5% of all the films.
- 26 starred a straight white woman, making up 10.4% of all the films.
- 2 films starred straight South Asian men, making up 0.8% of the films.
- 1 film starred an East Asian man and 1 starred a Middle Eastern man - 0.4% of the films each.
- A grand total of ONE of the 250 highest grossing films of all time stars a woman of colour. Scraping in at number 242, and made in 1995, it’s Pocahontas; which is racist as fuck and demeans the memory of a real Native American woman. Fantastic. It’ll also probably have fallen out of the top 250 by the next year, while no other films with WoC leads seem likely to replace it.
- This means that huge demographic groups are missing. 16.3% of people in the US identify as Latin@, and not a single film on this list has a Latin@ protagonist.
- Roughly 10% of the US identifies as LGBT+. None of these films has a queer protagonist.
- The reason that these films are so high grossing is because of the marketing they recieve. Studios are putting all of their money into films with straight white men, preventing casting of women and people of colour and just generally fucking people over; but this isn’t any necessary indication of what people are willing to see at all. It’s worth noting that the single most successful actor on that list is Will Smith. People are clearly willing to pay out money to watch Will Smith doing stuff, and studios are backing this and enabling more and more films of Will Smith (and his son) doing more and more stuff. His popularity shows fairly clearly that cinemagoers are definitely willing to watch (and probably actively demanding of, seeing as people of colour and white women are more likely to go to the cinema) men of colour in film, and the success of franchises such as Twilight and The Hunger Games shows audiences backing white women (women of colour have yet to be given a real chance). As such, we can definitively say that this is especially a problem with Hollywood, and withe the people making these films - a problem which obviously needs to change.
Tl; dr: Representation in Hollywood is really, really shit.
- Straight white men are 31.3% of the population, 83.6% of the leads. Lucky bastards.
- People of colour are 28.6% of the population, 6.4% of the leads (2.8% if you remove Will Smith, thanks Will.)
- Women are 51% of the population, 10.8% of the leads.
- There’s no intersection here. If you’re a woman of colour, a queer woman and/or queer person of colour, then you’re getting fuck all.