In Depth

Hollywood's women get the worst lines

A study finds female characters have fewer lines and mainly talk about family values

A study of the lines spoken by characters in almost 1,000 Hollywood films has revealed a profound gender imbalance.

Analysis of scripts from films produced over several decades found female characters tended to be younger than their male partners and spoke less. When they did talk, it was often about family values, while men used language linked to achievement, sex and death. In total, men had substantially more lines – 37,000 dialogues – whereas women had just over 15,000.

The University of Southern California used cognitive and developmental language tools to analyse dialogue in a study which "builds upon recent research highlighting gender imbalances within the industry", says The Times.

The paper cites the Bechdel test — which asks if films have two named female characters who have a conversation with each other about something other than a man — as "also drawing attention to male dominance in film".

Hollywood Reporter published a study of last year's 25 highest-grossing films and found that only about half passed the test. Blockbuster's such as Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne, The Legend of Tarzan and Kung Fu Panda 3 all failed to make the grade.

The films included in the study had seven times as many male writers, 12 times as many male directors and three times as many male producers as female. However, researchers found that female-led films consistently make more money than those led by men.

The Independent says the best way to fight entrenched sexism is for female writers to be present at script meetings, saying films made this way featured women on screen about twice as often.

Recommended

How Afghanistan is hurtling towards famine and ruin
Afghans at a street market
In Brief

How Afghanistan is hurtling towards famine and ruin

House of Gucci 
Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci
In Review

House of Gucci 

Qatar’s tainted World Cup
Workers at the site of the Lusail Stadium in 2019
Why we’re talking about . . .

Qatar’s tainted World Cup

Wedding ring lost in 1960s potato patch is found
A hand with a wedding ring
Tall Tales

Wedding ring lost in 1960s potato patch is found

Popular articles

Is Boris Johnson’s authority ‘evaporating’?
Boris Johnson
Behind the scenes

Is Boris Johnson’s authority ‘evaporating’?

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life
Vladimir Putin and his now ex-wife Lyudmila Putina
Profile

Vladimir Putin and his mysterious love life

19 advent calendars for adults
Selection of advent calendars
The wish list

19 advent calendars for adults

The Week Footer Banner