USC study: Minorities still under-represented in popular films

By | October 30, 2013

With this year’s high-profile movies “The Butler,” “42” and “12 Years a Slave” prominently featuring black actors, it may seem as though the multiplex is enjoying new levels of diversity. But popular films still under-represent minority characters and directors, and reflect certain biases in their portrayals, according to a study being released Wednesday by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Researchers evaluated 500 top-grossing movies released at the U.S. box office between 2007 and 2012 and 20,000 speaking characters, finding patterns in the way different races, ethnicities and genders are depicted.

Latino women, the study found, are the demographic most likely to be shown nude or in sexy attire; black men are the group least likely to be portrayed in a committed relationship.

In 2012, the researchers found, 76.3% of all speaking characters in these movies were white; according to U.S. Census figures, 63% of the country is white, and according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America, 56% of movie ticket buyers are white. (Los Angeles Times)

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