Hollywood Movies Still Stereotype LGBT Characters, Depict ‘Gay Panic’ Scenes

Media watchdog GLAAD says Hollywood continues to play on straight anxiety and cheap laughs when portraying gay people

The few Hollywood films to represent LGBT characters in 2015 did so in damaging and dangerous ways, according to a new report released Monday by GLAAD.

Only 17.5 percent of major movie releases were found inclusive by the media watchdog, and characters drawn in films like “Get Hard” and “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” were labeled stereotypes that won laughs from “gay panic” — or scenarios in which straight characters are distressed by social or sexual situations involving LGBT people.

“Leaving LGBT people out of the picture — or including them only as a punchline — keeps old prejudices alive and creates an unsafe environment, not only here in America, but around the world,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis in an introduction to the annual Studio Responsibility Index.

Comedies featuring superstar Kevin Hart are repeat offenders in the report, particularly “Get Hard” co-starring Will Ferrell and “The Wedding Ringer” with Josh Gad.

“Wedding Ringer,” from Sony’s Screen Gems division, was panned for an event planner character played by Ignacio Serricchio. GLAAD said the movie relied on “the long-running homophobic ‘sissy’ stereotype for laughs,” used anti-gay slurs and showed an extended montage of two guys dancing to mock the idea of men touching.

That’s a glowing review compared to “Get Hard,” from Warner Bros., which sparked controversy ahead of its release for jokes deemed racially offensive and homophobic.

“One of the most problematic films in several years, the gay panic-exploiting comedy ‘Get Hard’ amounts to a nearly two-hour prison rape joke, ” the report said.

Will Ferrell Get Hard Kevin Hart

“Get Hard” follows a white collar criminal named James (Ferrell) who hires supposed ex-con Darnell (Hart) to toughen him up for a pending jail sentence. Eventually the men decide James will not survive on his own and “must learn to perform oral sex in the hope of finding someone to protect him in exchange for sexual favors.”

The report breaks down the following scene:

The men go to a popular gay spot, and James meets with a man in the bathroom. After finally hyping himself up enough to go through with giving the man a blowjob, James hits his head on the stall and the man leaves. James returns to their table to tell Darnell, who has been joined by a man who is hitting on him, that they need to leave after his failure… this is just one of many scenes in the film predicated on the idea that sexual contact between two men is repulsive, and further, the assumption that men experiencing sexual violence and rape is inherently funny.

Similarly, Paramount’s “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” features a game show in which a live audience votes on a task for a contestant to complete — the catch being the opponent who suggested it also has to participate.

Actors Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson play a pair “forced to have virtual reality sex with a man. The two spend a few minutes expressing disgust and discomfort at the idea before the host electro-shocks them into complying.” 

It’s not just comedies on the hot seat in the GLAAD report. The organization vetted gay-themed films for responsible portrayals. It approved the likes of “Freeheld” (Summit/Lionsgate) and “The Danish Girl” (Focus Features), but put the final nail in the coffin of Roland Emmerich‘s “Stonewall” (Roadside Attractions).

The critical and box office disaster, which depicted the Stonewall riots in New York City that helped launch the modern gay rights movement in the late 1960s, was blasted for the whitewashing of real-life characters and revisionist storytelling.

GLAAD said the film removed “many of the real stories of LGBT people of color and women who were instrumental in the rebellion… their erasure from this turning point in LGBT history was unjustified.”

Of the major studios, Lionsgate emerged as the most inclusive with eight films to feature positive LGBT characters. For the first time in the survey’s five-year history, two studios (Paramount and Disney) included zero LGBT content in their film releases. Read the complete data from the report here.

“The film industry must embrace new stories reflective of the actual world if it wants to remain competitive and relevant,” Ellis concluded. “Lucky for them, there are plenty more stories to be told.”