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Massive Study Unveils What People Really Believe About How Hollywood Treats Faith

Hollywood Sign
Photo by Martin Jernberg on Unsplash

A new survey exploring opinions about faith in entertainment found a widespread global belief that Hollywood needs to do a better job of accurately portraying faith and religion.

Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start”

The sweeping Global Faith and Entertainment study, conducted by HarrisX in partnership with the Faith and Media Initiative, surveyed nearly 10,000 entertainment consumers in 11 countries, yielding comprehensive results that provide a lens into how the masses view this important issue.

The vast majority of Americans who consume entertainment (69%) believe “TV and movies perpetuate religious stereotypes,” according to the results. Meanwhile, 68% of global viewers would like to see diverse religious representations in movies and TV.

And, perhaps most interestingly, a majority of consumers believe religious identity is the most underrepresented and “most sensationalized” of identities covered in entertainment.

Many people don’t see their faith represented on the big and small screens as often as they see sexual orientation, race, and gender, and feel it’s often stereotypically presented when it does end up emerging.

An even stronger majority of international consumers (80%) believe it’s important for entertainment venues to take steps to improve portrayals of religious experience to improve accuracy.

Frank Patterson, CEO of Trilith Studios, a Hollywood production house in Fayette County, Georgia, said the results shed light on the important role Hollywood plays in shaping perceptions.

“The findings of the Global Faith and Entertainment Study underscore an important responsibility we have in Hollywood — to authentically portray faith and spirituality in our productions,” Patterson said in a statement. “Doing so represents an opportunity to bridge cultural divides, challenge stereotypes, and tell stories that reflect the diverse spiritual experiences of our global audience.”

He continued, “It’s not just about representation; it’s about making a positive impact on society through the stories we choose to tell.”

Consumers agreed three steps can be taken to help improve faith portrayals, including: hiring writers and talent who share the faith of the characters being portrayed, hiring experts to help frame such portrayals, and writing more diverse religious characters and storylines into the mix.

Read more about the results here.

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