Proof That Hollywood Really Doesn’t Want You To Hear Women Speak

Five charts expose the rampant sexism in movies.

13/04/2016 4:55 AM AEST | Updated 13/04/2016 5:13 AM AEST
Surprise, surprise: the representation of women in Hollywood movies is the absolute worst--and now we have empirical evidence.
After sharing a study on the Bechdel Test in January that showed the number of times women on screen speak about men, Poloygraph editor Matt Daniels and researcher Hanah Anderson decided to publish their findings to continue the conversation.
"The response was disgusting," Daniels told The Huffington Post, "And we decided that talking about gender inclusivity through the Bechdel Test was far too politically-charged to generate any sort of discourse."
So, the team decided to tackle the subject of women on screen by researching the amount of lines and screen time women get in some of Hollywood's most popular films. This is the most extensive study on female dialogue to date -- the entire process of compiling the statistics took about six weeks.
"We found every screenplay repository on the Internet and downloaded about 8,000 scripts," Daniels explained. "From there, we matched those scripts to IMDB pages. We then broke down each script by every character's lines. Finally, we matched each characters to an actor on IMDB."
The process allowed them to compile a comprehensive overview of film dialogue from 2,000 screenplays, broken down by gender and age. The research turned up some pretty bleak stats. For instance, 22 of 30 Disney films (including Pixar) have a majority of male dialogue. Romantic comedies with female leads like "Pretty Woman" and "10 Things I Hate About You" tended to, on average, have dialogue that was around 58% male.
Some other interesting/disappointing findings included:
  • 1 Men speak more often than women in Disney’s animated films.
    According to the study, even Disney films with female leads have more male dialogue:   "[In Mulan], the dialogue swings male. Mushu, her protector dragon, has 50 percent more words of dialogue than Mulan herself."
  • 2 The majority of dialogue in live-action scripts came from men.
    "Across thousands of films in our dataset," the study says, "It was hard to find a subset that didn’t over-index male. Even romantic comedies have dialogue that is, on average, 58 percent male."
  • 3 There are fewer women in lead roles than men in Hollywood blockbusters.
    Women make up at least 2 of the top 3 roles in 18 percent of top grossing films in the study, while men make up the leads for 82 percent of films.
  • 4 90 percent of dialogue in all the films studied was male.
    308 of the films had 90 to 100 percent male dialogue, while 1,211 had 60 to 90 percent male dialogue. Yikes. 
  • 5 Women over 40 get less screen time, while men over 40 get more.
    For women, the majority of characters with lines (38 percent) are between the ages of 22 and 31.
"Honestly, the most surprising finding was that no one had done this," Daniels said of the study.
"We all talk about poor representation in film, but everyone seemed perfectly content with relying on anecdotes rather than data."
The Polygraph study is just the tip of the iceberg. With a special interactive search feature, Daniels and Anderson have created a system that will allow film lovers to learn about how characters speak in film, how they're introduced, their race, ages, gender, and so much more.
To check out the interactive feature, go to Polygraph.cool
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