A GLAAD report released Thursday finds that LGBTQ characters were largely absent from 25 films released between June and September, praising films like Sony’s “Rough Night” and criticizing Lionsgate’s “Do it Like an Hombre.”
GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index is intended to pressure top movie studios to feature more LGBTQ characters and in more meaningful ways. Too often, GLAAD says, LGBTQ characters appear only briefly in films or in service of a joke. The advocacy group rates films using the Vito Russo test, a measurement that examines how well-rounded and integral the character is in the film.
“Rough Night” is an R-rated comedy centered on five women reuniting for a bachelorette party who accidentally kill their male stripper and try to cover it up. It featured four LGBTQ characters and passed the Vito Russo test.
“The inclusion of LGBTQ main characters — especially women of color — is almost unseen in mainstream film today,” wrote Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s director of entertainment research and analysis. “While our report found comedies are the most likely films to include LGBTQ characters, they are often treated as a reductive punchline. ‘Rough Night’ demonstrated that humor and inclusion can co-exist without playing into the outdated and harmful stereotypes that so many comedy films continue to rely on.”
Lionsgate’s “Hazlo Como Un Hombre,” as the film is named in Spanish, is a Chilean feature that shows how one man overcomes his discomfort at learning his best friend, engaged to his sister, is gay. It featured four LGBTQ characters and passed the Vito Russo test but nonetheless felt dated, GLAAD said. “The filmmakers likely had good intentions and hoped to make a point about bigotry existing everywhere, but acknowledging prejudice in a ‘humorous’ way is not the same as actually challenging the idea or subverting an expectation in order to further progress,” the report said.
The summer box office concluded this year with the worst showing in over a decade, and GLAAD says that increased LGBTQ representation could help draw audiences. The report chided the majority of summer releases for the lack of inclusion, including “Wonder Woman” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” which earned praise for its racially diverse cast.
“This summer’s dismal box office sales should be a wakeup call to major Hollywood studios that their old formula for success needs a serious update,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO. “Studios must distribute films that tell diverse stories and are truly reflective of today’s audiences if they hope to remain relevant.”
The full report can be found here.