Females led in only 15 percent of top films in 2013, study says - New York News

Females led in only 15 percent of top films in 2013, study says

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By: Kandra Polatis, Deseret News

Women are still marginalized in top films, according to a recent study.

The study, "It's a Man's (Celluloid) World," shows only 15 percent of the top-grossing movies of 2013 featured a female protagonist. The data also indicate that women held 30 percent of speaking roles and accounted for 29 percent of major characters.

Female minorities were also underrepresented in 2013 in film. Fourteen percent of female characters were African-American, Latinas accounted for 5 percent and Asian women 3 percent.

Additionally, female characters were younger than men on the big screen and were less likely than male characters "to have clearly identifiable goals or be portrayed as leaders of any kind."

"Overall, we have seen little movement in the numbers of female protagonists and females as speaking characters over the last decade," said Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center of the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University and the study's author, to The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.

Lauzen said women are underrepresented in top films because most screenwriters are men who tend to write about what they know. "Having lived their lives as males, men tend to create male characters," according to The Washington Post.

Stacy Smith, director of the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California, agreed with Lauzen, according to the Post article. Smith said males write about 85 percent of movies, so "it should not be any surprise that they are telling dynamic, engaging stories about men."

Lauzen believes Hollywood's treatment of women in movies, particularly filmmakers' tendency to favor younger women on screen, has "interesting consequences for the amount of personal and professional power a character is likely to wield."

"When writers and filmmakers keep female characters young, they also limit the amount of (believable) power that character is likely to possess," Lauzen said in the Post. "I think we have to recognize that our culture is currently grappling with how to react to powerful females, in real life and in film."


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Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

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