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BIg studios deliver few films with LGBT characters

An LGBT media watchdog group reports that out of 101 films released by major studios in 2012, just 14 featured characters identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. None of the films featured transgender characters.

The count is in the Studio Responsibility Index from GLAAD.

The studio maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBT people in films released by six major motion picture studios during the 2012 calendar year.

GLAAD researched films released by 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers.

GLAAD said "the report is intended to serve as a road map toward increasing fair, accurate and inclusive LGBT film representations."

The nonprofit introduced what it has called the "Vito Russo Test," which was inspired by the Bechdel Test and named after GLAAD co-founder and celebrated film historian Vito Russo. Using the test, anyone can analyze how LGBT characters are represented in a film or fictional work.

The criteria:

• The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender.

• That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. the character is made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters).

• The LGBT character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect.

GLAAD said just six of the 14 major studio films that featured an LGB character passed the "Vito Russo Test."

Of the films with LGB characters, more than half featured gay male characters, 33 percent included lesbian characters and 11 percent included bisexual characters.

GLAAD tallied 31 LGB characters, some on the screen no more than a few seconds, and 84 percent of them were white.

Comedies, GLAAD found, were more likely to include LGB characters than other films. Nine of 24 comedies from the major studios included an LGB character; 3 of 34 action-sci-fi films, one of 21 dramas and one of four documentaries. There were no LGBT characters in animated or family-oriented films released by the major studios.

Additionally, just four films contained an LGB character that could be considered a major character, someone in more than a few scenes and with a substantial role in the story.

A look at the studio records:

• In 2012, 20th Century Fox released 15 films, none of which included appearances by LGBT people.

• Paramount Pictures released 14 films, three of them included LGB characters: "Katy Perry: Part of Me," "A Thousand Words" and "Fun Size." Only "Fun Size" passed the Russo test.

• Sony Columbia released 19 films, four of which included LGB characters: "Skyfall," "21 Jump Street," "Think Like a Man" and "That's My Boy." Only "Skyfall" passed the Russo test.

• Universal Pictures released 16 films, four of which included LGB characters: "Pitch Perfect," "The Five-Year Engagement," "Ted" and "American Reunion."

Two of the films passed the Russo test: "Pitch Perfect" and "The Five-Year Engagement."

• The Walt Disney Studios released 13 films in 2012, one of which included an LGB character: "The Avengers," which did not pass the Russo test.

• Warner Brothers released 24 films in 2012, two of which included LGB characters: "Cloud Atlas" and "Rock of Ages." Both passed the Russo test.

From GLAAD, grades were given to the studios: Failing for 20th Century Fox, which has a poor track record and, while it offered no films last year with an LGB character, did release "The Watch," which contains homophobic jokes.

Disney also received a failing grade.

Paramount, Sony Columbia, Universal and Warner Brothers were rated adequate.

“As a major influence in American culture and one of our nation's largest media exports abroad, the lack of LGBT characters in big-budget films needs to change,” said GLAAD's Wilson Cruz. “Until LGBT characters are depicted in these films in a substantial way with more regularity, there will remain the appearance of LGBT bias on the studios’ part. Whether it's an action hero or a supporting character, moviegoers should be able to see LGBT people as integral players in the stories told by leading Hollywood studios.”

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