For the First Time, USC Annenberg Report Examines Disability Inclusion in Media

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For the First Time, USC Annenberg Report Examines Disability Inclusion in Media

Yearly, the USC Annenberg Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative examines inequality on screen and behind the camera across the 100 top‐grossing domestic films. To date, it has evaluated 35,205 characters across 800 of the most popular movies from 2007‐2015. Every independent speaking or named character on screen was assessed for gender, race/ethnicity, and LGBT status as well as a variety of demographic, domesticity, and sexualization measures. In 2015, the Initiative began assessing the portrayal of character disability as well.  

The results of the Report can be viewed here

Report findings include:

- Only 2.4% of speaking or named characters shown with a disability

- Only 19% of characters with a disability were female; 81% were male -- "a new low for gender inequality."

- Not one LGBT character with a disability was portrayed across the 100 top films of 2015

- 61% physical disabilities; 37% mental or cognitive disabilities; 18% communicative disabilities (US Census language and domains)

- 10 of the films featured a leading/co-leading character with a disability across the 100 top films (4 of them had PTSD)

- Only 2 of the 11 ensemble films depicted a primary character with a disability, both male and one underrepresented

- 54.3% of characters with disabilities in supporting roles; 32.4% in inconsequential roles

- 33% of the portrayals in Action/Adventure films; 24.8% in Comedies; 19% in Dramas; and only 2% in Animated films -- "problematic, suggesting that content targeting the youngest viewers all but erases this community."

- 45 of 100 films failed to depict even one character with a disability

- 71.7% of characters with disabilities were White; 28.3% were underrepresented

LGBT & disabled characters, "Both of these vibrant and varied communities find themselves erased when it comes to film portrayals.  The numbers behind the camera are worse.  

According to the report, "Hollywood is the cultural epicenter of exclusionary hiring practices..."

Disability inclusion in today's report is made possible by funding from The Loreen Arbus Foundation.  Thanks to Day 'Deena' Al-Mohamed, Ray Bradford, Lawrence Carter-Long, Dominick Ławniczak Evans, Robert David Hall, Beth Haller, Tina Kopić, Simi Linton, David Perry, Danny Woodburn, and Maysoon Zayid for sharing your smarts in furthering the disability-inclusive diversity and media dialogue. This is a great start that we can build upon and expand to the social model of disability with DisBeat, Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0, Deaf Film Camp, Inclusion in the Arts, Meet the Biz, Inclusion Film Camp, Media Access Awards, Disability Visibility Project, GLAAD, Nothing Without Us Media, National Disability Mentoring Coalition, SIGNmation, PolicyWorks and other great initiatives.