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A major criticism of the Hollywood studio system has always been a lack of diversity when it comes to its protagonists and subject matter. In a world of reboots, copycats, and sequel prospects, the typical "white male protagonist" doesn't only recur, he dominates the marketplace. The same criticism can be made for who is hired to bring things to life on the creative end, particularly in the screenwriting sector. While it’s always been a general gripe that those conscious of such inequalities have always had, The Wrap’s coverage on the 2014 Writer’s Guild of America’s Hollywood Writers Report sheds a lot of light on just how much of a disparity there is between women and minority writers versus the status quo. This year’s report had one overarching message to its statistical analysis: Television is more open to female and minority voices by a surprising margin.
In 2009, women accounted for 17 percent of the writer’s employed in the film portion of the WGA. In 2012, that number fell to 15 percent, with women losing $.05 per dollar to their male counterparts in the same period of time. So for every dollar a male screenwriter was paid in 2009, a female screenwriter was being paid $.82 out of that same dollar. 2012 brought that figure down to $.77 per dollar. In television, however, women were at $.91 per dollar in 2010, and moved up to $.92 in 2012. Not a big increase, but if you want to know why there’s more female voices on television these days, just look at the numbers. Female writers are only outnumbered by a 2:1 factor in TV, while they’re at a 3:1 ratio in the film industry. And yet we’re surprised when a Wonder Woman update can’t get off of the ground. The industry is writing and playing towards the biggest audience it knows: a like minded demographic.
This, again, brings us to the vicious circle of audiences clamoring for originality and diversity from an industry that, for the most part, has classically been rather lacking in both departments. The coverage doesn’t even take into account the numbers for female and minority writers in the Independent circuit versus the major studios; though one could venture a guess that in that arena, it’d be Indies providing a better opportunity than the so called big leagues. If Hollywood is to encounter more diversity and originality in its finished products, perhaps it should push for more of both on the creative end of the equation. After all, in cases like Scandal , 30 Rock and Orange Is The New Black it did wonders
You can read the full, fifteen page report as a .pdf file here.