Female roles not central to Hollywood movie plots: study
Los Angeles, Aug 1 PTI : Female roles are not at the heart of the plot in Hollywood movies, say scientists, including those of Indian origin, who have found that stereotypes of women, race and aging are reinforced in movies.
The study, which also reveals how media communicate about race and age, quantified the sophistication and tone of the language of 7,000 characters and more than 53,000 dialogues in nearly 1,000 film scenarios .
Researchers from the University of Southern California in the United States analyzed the content of the characters’ language and their interactions between gender, race and age.
They examined the cast, genre, production teams through the films, including writers, directors and casting agents.
“Writers consciously or unconsciously accept gender norms that are embedded in their choice of words,” said Anil Ramakrishna, the first author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Association for Computational Linguistics.
“In an ideal world, gender is in an auxiliary fact, it has nothing to do with how the actors are presented and what they say,” Ramakrishna said.
Among the scripts and dialogues examined, men have over 37,000 dialogues; The women had just over 15,000. Women represented more than 2,000 characters, while men accounted for nearly 4,900.
Overall, female characters regardless of race tend to be about five years younger than their male counterparts.
Research revealed that when the writers were involved in the script, the representation of the female characters on the screen was on average 50 percent higher.
The researchers found that the dialogue of Latino and mixed characters had more dialogue related to sexuality.
African-American characters had a higher percentage of sworn words in their dialogues than other races.
Overall, researchers found that female characters tend to be more positive, but this tends to be correlated with the use of language in relation to family values.
Beyond the volume of dialogue attributed to men, male dialogue contained more words related to success, death and more swearing than the scripted dialogue for women.
As the characters age, the characters on the screen seem wiser: smarter, less enthusiastic, less talked about in sexuality and more talk about religion, researchers said.
In addition, the language of the old characters is moving towards what is most traditionally associated with men.
In addition to the content of a dialogue, researchers used graph theory to determine how central characters are the plot of a film by analyzing links and relationships with other characters in the film.
They then model the network and the network of relationships between the characters in the same way as how a transit hub would be studied.
The researchers segmented the dialogue, putting each character as a “knot” or kernel. They found that by removing the nodes of female characters from most kinds of films, the plot and relationships did not need to be significantly altered.
The exception was when women were in horror movies when they were most likely to be portrayed as victims. Thus, leaving female characters did not cause much disruption.
“Language analysis and interaction modeling tools allow us to understand not only what someone is saying, but how they say it, how much they say, who they are speaking to and in what context, New knowledge about media content and its potential impact on People, “said Professor Shrikanth Narayanan of the University of Southern California.