Film Dialogue for 2,000 Screenplays, Broken Down by Gender and Age

Film Dialogue for 2,000 Screenplays, Broken Down by Gender and Age

Organisation: Polygraph (United States)

Publication Date: 04/12/2016

Applicant(s)

Size of team/newsroom:small

Description

Lately, Hollywood has been taking so much heat for rampant sexism and racism. The prevailing theme: white men dominate movie roles. But it’s all rhetoric and no data, which gets us nowhere in terms of having an informed discussion. How many movies are actually about men? What changes by genre, era, or box-office revenue? What circumstances generate more diversity? To begin answering these questions, we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever.

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

This project was born out of the less-than-stellar response to our analysis of films that fail the Bechdel Test (http://polygraphing.cool/bechdel). Commenters were quick to point out that the Bechdel Test is flawed and there are justifiable reasons for films to fail (e.g., they are historic). By measuring dialogue, we have much more objective view of gender in film. Many of the findings are anecdotally obvious to women in the film industry. But nobody wanted to do the grunt work of gathering the data. We spent weeks just matching scripts to IMDB pages. It’s still not perfect, but we’re now in a much better place than “you know...women are never love-interests when they’re older than 40. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

Technologies used for this project:

We used D3 for all of the visualizations.
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