Gay, black people still shown as stereotypes in films, says study

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 19, 2011 09:50 hrs

One of the biggest studies into cinema audiences' opinions has found that most feel gay and black people are still shown as stereotypes in films.

Of 4,315 adults across the UK who were surveyed, a clear majority believe cinema too often falls back on discredited stereotypes, including sexless older women, drug dealing, over sexualised black people and gay people whose lives are dominated by their sexuality.

Two in three of respondents agree that gay characters are too often portrayed with sexual orientation as their main trait.

Three in five say they are too often shown as being "camp". Among the gay, lesbian and bisexual population, four out of five people hold those views.

"Film is often two large strides behind TV in terms of advancing positive depictions of lesbian and gay people," the Guardian quoted Ruth Hunt, Stonewall's Director of Public Affairs, as saying.

"Films rarely incorporate positive lesbian and gay characters and storylines," she said.

Steve Evans, research director of Harris Interactive and author of the report, said the research pointed to "societal disconnect" with the gay audience.

"While UK society claims not to be homophobic, in reality gay men feel society is not comfortable with seeing open homosexual relations on screen," he said.

The study, 'Portrayal vs Betrayal?', also found half the population believe black characters are too often portrayed as drug dealers in films.

Two in five say black characters don't get enough "good guy" roles, while one in three say black people are too often portrayed as being overly sexual.

This view is felt even more intensely by the black community itself, with four out of five members of the black audience saying black characters are too often portrayed as drug dealers.

Three out of four say they are not portrayed positively enough. Two out of three say they are too often shown as overly sexual.

"There is a general consensus that black people are underrepresented in UK cinema and where they are featured it tends to be in a negative light," Evans said.

"The overwhelming view is that black people are generally portrayed as drug dealers, wearing hoodies, actively involved in gangs and living in sink estates. They rarely have regular, professional jobs," he stated. (ANI)