GLAAD has come out with its annual movie industry report card on diversity, handing out failing grades to three top studios and specifically calling for LGBT characters in Walt Disney's Star Wars franchise, according by The Hollywood Reporter.
"As sci-fi projects have the special opportunity to create unique worlds whose advanced societies can serve as a commentary on our own, the most obvious place where Disney could include LGBT characters is in the upcoming eighth Star Wars film," reads GLAAD's statement, referring to 2017's Star Wars: Episode VIII. "2015’s The Force Awakens has introduced a new and diverse central trio, which allows the creators opportunity to tell fresh stories as they develop their backstory. Recent official novels in the franchise featured lesbian and gay characters that could also be easily written in to the story.”
While GLAAD calls for LBGT characters in the new Star Wars films, it should be noted that the orientation of the three major new characters - Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron - were not revealed during The Force Awakens.
GLAAD's fourth annual "Studio Responsibility Index" reported that of the 126 major studio films in 2015, only 17.5% included LGBT characters - the same percentage as in the previous year. According to the advocacy group, neither Paramount or Disney included any LGBT characters in its 2015 films, with Warner Bros. only featuring non-heterosexual characters in 20% of its films. 20th Century Fox had a reported 12%, while Sony and Universal tied at 19%, and Lionsgate with the most of the major studios at 33%.
"Hollywood's films lag far behind any other form of media when it comes to portrayals of LGBT characters,"said GLAAD President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant."
GLAAD also argued that while LGBT representation in films didn't progress percentage-wise in 2015, it noted a 'resurgence of "outright offensive depictions of LGBT," specifically citing Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Get Hard and The Wedding Ringer.