So does Kung-Fu Panda pass the Bechdel Test?
Was there another female besides Tigress?
[I forget is why I ask]
Yeah, Viper. So I guess it passes.
Only if they talk to each other about not a dude.
There are a few exceptions to the Bechdel test, depending on genre or context.
For example, Shawshank Redemption fails the test, but it’s not a sexist movie. About the only way it could have passed would be if random women fell out of the skylight, discussing politics as they plummeted.
It’s also not a perfect pass/fail for “This is sexist.” You can have a movie where two women discuss something besides boyfriends, and have it still be sexist.
But in general, it’s a good rubric. You just have to ask yourself WHY a particular movie passes or fails.
For instance, “True Grit” passes. Not sexist, per se, not by a long shot. But still…
Actually, while I approve of the Bechdel test, there are plenty of movie that fail it that are also very good movies. Dark Knight is one of those in my book. Actually, most Oscar winners don’t pass it, historically speaking. The test is more a look at how movie makers (and for that matter, the Hollywood machines) view women characters. Namely, Hollywood tends to think multiple strong female characters won’t be profitable, so those movies don’t get made so Hollywood tells themselves that those kinds of movies aren’t profitable. And so on.
No, it doesn’t depend on genre or context. The Bechdel test is universal, it always tells you if a movie has more than one women characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.
It doesn’t tell you if a movie is good or not, and it doesn’t tell you if a movie is in itself sexist. Just the thing that it says that it does. The idea is for you to figure out for yourself what a movie has to say about the culture we live in.
No, Ridureyu (to whom I reply here because I cannot reply to directly), Shawshank Redemption still fails the test. Remember, the Bechdel test is about PRESENCE and whether or not it’s ‘okay’ that there are no girls in it. It’s never meant to be used as a means of determining whether or not a movie is feminist.
After all, Twilight might pass the test but that is hardly a feminist movie.
Well yeah, I meant to say that Shawshank Redemption fails the test. According to the Bechdel test, it’s a horrifically chauvinist, evil, sexist movie, whereas the Bratz movie is totally a triumph for feminism.
I guess SHawshank Redemption needed some cutaway scenes to random women on the street, talking about the weather. THEN it would have been okay!
(or maybe the bEchdel test is fundamentally flawed because it’s a gross oversimplification of complex themes. WHo knows!)
The bechdel test isn’t really a “test” for anything as serious as “is this movie sexist.” It’s more a tool for pointing out that -most- movies don’t focus on women.
Doesn’t mean the movie itself is anti-feminist. It’s just meant to make you think. Allison Bechdel is a comedy cartoonist first, and feminist writer second.
DOES Twilight pass the test? Isn’t the whole premise about whether she’ll shack up with one guy or the other? That would seem to be a fail.
Wow, my shift key skills totally failed there. Might be because I was swapping Glyos parts all day, and my fingers are numb.
Or MAYBE the Bechdel test is not what you think it is despite it being explained to you and everyone else multple times, Ridureyu! Thanks for using patronizing sarcasm rather than actually reading what I had to say.
The bechdel test is statistical, I think.
True, true. I mentioned way down in the ginormous discussion that there is a difference between “What the Bechdel test is supposed to be” (examining overarching trends) and “What it is used for.” Keep in mind that, in my own personal experience, 99.99% of the people who mention the test treat it like a pass/fail “THIS MOVIE IS SEXIST!” thing.
And I’m sorry that you feel the need to get angry
@InvisibleMoose: Sorry, but I agree with Ryu.
The test in general leads to the interesting result that in most cases movies kind shallow females characters.
But that is as far as it goes.
Using this “set of rules” to classify whether an specific movie is or not chauvinist (which is what I’ve been seeing in most pages so far) is ridicule.
As a set if rules, they are just way too simple, and they imply were little.
Every movie about guys are automatically chauvinist? What about the context?
Since when two girls talking about politics or they future plans make a movie “not-chauvinist”?
Sorry if I look a little bit angered, but I’ve seen people saying that “127 hours”,( the movie about ONE GUY who got his arm stacked in a rock) was bad because it didn’t fulfil this rules.
( It’d been far fetched and unnatural for that movie to focus on girls talking, so what’s the point of complaining about it? )
Moreover, most males characters are also shallow as well.
So it’s not just a female thing.
It probably does not, because any conversations Viper and Tigress may have had are almost certainly entirely about Sifu, Po, or Tai Lung.
I was just told by someone who actually watched it that they hardly ever talked to each other, so nope!
actually they do talk to each other for a snippet. when tigress is going to meet tai lung and they go after her she says “don’t try to stop me” and viper says “we’re not. we’re coming with you.” not about a man.
It is about a man. She’s telling them not to stop her from facing Tai Lung.
I think the key thing isn’t so much talking about a man as much as talking about a man who’s a romantic interest, which none of those men were.
It doesn’t matter what relation they have to the men of the movie. If they are there only to discuss the male characters, then the female characters aren’t really integrated in the story that well.
I’m not sure if any of the Disney films would pass the Bechdel test. But considering how Disney films feel about moms, that’s not so surprising.
Kung-Fu Panda isn’t Disney, it’s Dreamworks.
Actually, a bunch of ’em do! Even the old ones!
Sleeping Beauty consists mostly of three good fairies (all female) talking about how to protect a princess from an evil fairy (also female).
Even, say, Cinderella has the stepmother and stepsisters discussing Cinderella. And Snow White talks to the evil queen (in disguise) about apples.
Not everything that passes the Bechdel test is non-sexist…
I also find it interesting that a lot of Pixar movies that don’t even have two major female characters, let alone pass the Bechdel Test. Not everything that doesn’t pass the test is sexist… although Pixar could stand to have more strong female characters. One reason I am excited for “Brave.”
…that would be their own attempt at a Princess movie, yes?
I do think Pixar is (was?) kinda sexist for the glaring lack of main female characters in their (older) movies though.
True, true. I mentioned way down in the ginormous discuswsion that there is a difference between “What the Bechdel test is supposed to be” (examining overarching trends) and “What it is used for.” Keep in mind that, in my own personal experience, 99.99% of the people who mention the test treat it like a pass/fail “THIS MOVIE IS SEXIST!” thing.
And I’m sorry that you feel theneed to get angry
While I’m sorry you feel the need to be patronising.
And I’m sorry that… uh… that…
(Insert Chunk’s confession here)
Heh, I told my family about that just last month.
Strictly speaking, to pass the Bechdel Test, the young ladies in question have to have a conversation that isn’t about a man or men-in-general.
I’m guessing that’s what Leslie would’ve asked Joe next. But The Hangover failed on the second point, so there wasn’t any need.
Bingo. But I fully expect everyone to lecture me on it anyway.
Dudes. Leslie will go over the exact rules in a strip or two. Patience.
You really don’t know who you’re talking to do you.
It’s your own darn fault, leaving this as a Friday “cliffhanger”.
Eh, lecturing will happen whether there’s 24 hours between updates or 36.
(Frankly, even if I put up the whole week at once, it’d still happen. Folks don’t tend to read ahead before commenting.)
I reply here to David:
of course they are, if it’s “page segmented”, the sequence* is a page, and at the end of it is a provisory stillstand, like a breath in a conversation. And if you breath, people start to discuss what you juste said.
The s(c)o(tt)**-called sequential art is just like any expression, it has a start, an end, and pauses between, and the reader, as the listener, is likely to comment/extrapole/fill. I always thought breakbeat, breakcore and Philip Glass should be enlisted as sequential art too.
*There are sequences inside sequences of course.
**That doesn’t meant all he said is bullshit, just that like many other media, comics involve time, and attention span, aside from a total art that doesn’t eists, will always cut thing in smaller pieces to understand. Sure if the artist does the cutting S/he has more control on efficiency.
Ooo! How is the Dragon Age novel? I tughoht about picking it up, but never got around to it.I also should play some Assassin’s Creed II. I bought it right when it came out but still haven’t broken into it. At least I finally beat Uncharted 2!I can totally sympathize with work being crazy right now. I’ve got a major milestone coming up in the very near future, and just now is when new users start pouring into my hobby website bringing my poor server to its knees. And of course, it when you’re busiest with no time to spare that artistic inspiration will strike. I swear its a corollary to Murphy’s Law.Rambling aside, I’m glad you’re finding time to relax with some games. From the sounds of it, work won’t be letting up for you for some time… Good news for us fans though, I suppose. 😉
The Bechdel test requires the following:
1. Two female characters have a conversation and
2. That conversation is not about a man.
That is all. Conversations about lipstick pass the test, conversations about your Dad fail it.
so 2 girls talking analyzing the thought processes and actions of american presidents don’t pass the bechdel test?
Nope. The Bechdel Test is a bit shallow, really. I don’t know why it became so widespread. It doesn’t really indicate anything; a feminist manifesto or gender inequality piece wouldn’t pass it if it talked about men enough and didn’t devote a few sections specifically to women, from what I understand.
The point of the test isn’t to label any individual movies as misogynist or feminist because, as many point out, many movies are perfectly justified in failing the test and many movies that pass it could be seen as misogynist as hell. The point is that an incredibly large number of movies out there, especially *popular* movies, fail the test. It’s a statement about gender inequality in Hollywood as a whole, not in individual films, if that makes sense.
Also, I had a multi-week “discussion” with another woman on reddit who just could not get this idea through her head. I finally gave up.
Well, not unless the presidents in question are female.
That’s not even required, as long as the president isn’t male. A genderless president would suffice.
If that’s all it’s about, no. But the odds are that a film that features women who are developed enough as characters to be discussing the thought processes and action of American presidents will also talk about other things as well.
There’s one more point: the two women have to have be named characters. “Prostitute 1″ and “Prostitute 2″ aren’t names.
And what happens when you are presented with a story in which none of the characters have real names?
Would a conversation between Science Teacher and Social Study Teacher not count even if your other characters are Goth, Jock, Geek, and Bully?
That’s an interesting question. Technically the answer would be no, the characters need to be named for the Bechdel test to apply. But the wider question is if it matters.
I’ve acted in a play where none of the seven characters are named (also the two men are the only characters on the stage who never speak to each other for a funny reversal of the test). It makes for pretty surreal storytelling, you can get characters that function more like archetypes than actual people. But does that stuff happens outside of high-concept arthouse movies with extremely small audiences compared to Michael Bay productions? The kind that shape our culture, that the Bechdel test serves to help us examine?
So my question is this, does the conversation have to be only between the two girls or do group discussions count?
You seem to know a lot about Gender Studies classes Willis, I’m guessing you took them at college?
So, does Twilight:Eclipse pass the Bechdel test? I ask because I would sooner gouge out my eyes than see it.
I don’t think so. Bella, Jacob, and Edward are the only characters with decent screen time, and most of the remainder are male. Alice and a couple of the human girls had conversations with Bella(can’t recall the specifics due to blocking most of the movie out), but those conversations were almost certainly about Edward and Jacob.
Twilight Sparkle, and the rest of My Little Pony passes. However, it so far has failed the Reverse Bechdel: no males have even had a conversation yet, except the Diamond Dogs talking about Rarity, and (offscreen) Spike talking with Hoity Toity, the fashion magnate, about Rarity.
Snips and Snails had a few conversations… almost entirely about Trixie, though, which I would suppose fails the reverse Bechdel as well.
Snips and Snails talk about finding an Ursa Major, not about Trixie!
Ah, but they’re finding the Ursa to bring to Trixie! It’s like a technical Bechdel pass where Betty and Veronica are discussing buying birth control.
… Okay, that was a HORRIBLE example.
I don’t think there’s a page of Bella’s inner monologue that passes the Bechdel test (i.e. isn’t about a man)
Nice job, signalling your high status by disdaining movies that have appealed to a low-status demographic (teen girls).
In regards to your question, Yes, it does. Off the top of my head:
1. A female schoolmate asks Bella whether Bella liked her graduation speech.
2. Caroline and Bella talk about being a vampire — this includes Bella’s relationship with Edward and Caroline’s past abuser, but it’s not exactly what the discussion is about (bloodlust, the absense of children, being “frozen in time” are).
3. At the end, Esme and Jane exchange brief sentences about a third female vampire Esme asks to spare.
I hate it not because it’s written to appeal to teen girls, but because:
A-It’s badly written.
B-The “perfect” relationship, the one designed to be the model for the teen girls that are it’s primary demographic, is emotionally and physically abusive.
Twilight actually has it’s good points(Alice/Jasper is everything Bella/Edward isn’t), but the fact that it is designed to appeal to teen girls while promoting abuse makes me very uncomfortable, and the writing for the main characters is intentionally* terrible.
*Bella’s lack of a personality or a positive trait that would justify every guy in the school being interested in her has been stated by Miss Meyers to be intentional, so that readers could use her as an insert. That’s almost textbook Mary Sue.
I didn’t object to Dean or anyone else hating the movie (or the book) — I objected to his loathing it *without* seeing or reading it, and yet hinting that people who saw it should be ashamed of themselves.
This is insulting and demeaning to all of us who actually saw it (whether we liked it or not). He pats himself on the back for NOT being like us, while nonetheless seeking our answer.
Oddly, it does. Rosalie tells Bella the story of how she became a vampire (a story that has guys in it but is about Rosalie, not the guys) and Bella and a named classmate (Jessica? Or something?) talk about graduation.
I am torn between admitting shame and a passionate defense of my right to badly written porn.
I thought the Bechdel Test was:
a) Is there more than one female character?
b) Do two women ever talk to each other?
c) Do they talk about something other than a man?
The female characters need to be named. Otherwise random conversations by extras could count.
As stated above, main characters don’t have to be named. If an important character is not named, do they still not count towards the Bechdel Test?
Where did this “named” thing come from? I’ve read the original comic and it makes no mention of it. Is it something fans came up with later to try and make the test less completely arbitrary?
As someone who works a student assistant job on campus, you wouldn’t believe how many real life conversations fail the Bechdel Test.
A single conversation can’t fail the Bechdel test, it’s about the whole of a work/film.
This was posted almost eight hours before my identical reply? How did I miss *that*?
My comment was probably awaiting moderation, so may have not been made visible for a long time.
A single conversation can’t fail the Bechdel Test. You’re *allowed* to talk about other people, y’know.
I do believe Joe just won this round.
So that is a real film? I am too afraid to Google it. (I had a bad experience when I needed to find a picture of a certain giant robot)
Nope, no such film. But there’s more than enough “Debbie Does…” porn out there already.
Gee. God I hate to be creepy, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. Which robot exactly were you trying to find?
The Big-O. It was an image search, with the filters off because I didn’t think to turn them on. there are just some things that should not be seen out there.
Oh. Lol. I guess that makes perfect sense.
uhhh, i just google image searched for “Big-O” and didn’t find anything disturbing or even slightly sexual….
and my safe-search is not on.
Could have happened before google images got nerfed. Could be the sites were taken down. Internets are funny that way.
Yeah and other little things like hyphens or capitals can effect the search. plus that search was done well over a year ago.
Donniey explained to me (in the last comics commentary) that “Debbie does DALLAS” (I’m assuming he changed it to Persepolis to make fun of Dorothy or something?) is a real movie o:
Yes, Debbie Does Dallas was a real movie.
Which spawned sixteen sequels/remakes/still-pornish-parodies.
And a reality show on non-porn television.
And an off-broadway musical.
I’m totally not even kidding.
Wait — sorry. The reality show was about Deep Throat, not DDD. My mistake.
The musical was totally DDD, though, and has been performed professionally throughout the theater community.
Also, DDD was apparently a part of landmark litigation over trademark violation, which may not be relevant beyond the sheer joy of citing “The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders v. Pussycat Cinema” as a precedent.
You forgot the comic book…
o: DDD was also a muscial and had comics?! Whoooa.
I’m actually interested in researching this further xD;;;
Yeah Hangover does not pass the test. Neither does Kung Fu Panda. Easy A passes (but it does feature a TON of girl conversations about boys, it’s basically the point of the movie). I assume Never Say Never fails the test as every female line in the movie must be either a shriek that only dogs can hear or something to the effect of “OH MY GOD THAT’S JUSTIN BEIBER!!!”
Actually, I think Joe might be onto something there. >_> I’ve seen lesbian porn where guys aren’t mentioned at all.
I would assume a lack of guys would be a big thing in lesbian porn.
But at the same time, they have to have a conversation. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was just all smut and no talking.
Are the women given actual names though? The women have to be named characters.
The original Bechdel Test, as discussed in the source comic (Dykes to Watch Out For), did not require the characters to be named. The Mo Movie Measure, however, is a later version that adds the name requirement.
I know that. I actually own the collection. But the name thing was added, and I agree with the logic of why it was added. It’s not like it was a sacred text in its original form.
The Bechdel test never deals with the quality of the film, its simply a test of whether or not the film is “feminist”. Which is funny if you apply it to one-woman stage plays. I’ve heard The Vagina Monologues fails for that reason, but I haven’t gotten to see it so I can’t confirm.
The Bechdel Test is not about whether a film is feminist or not. Feminist films can fail Bechdel Test and non-feminist films can pass it.
Sorry, my bad. I seem to be on a roll tonight.
The Dreamworks test is fairly simple. Are there animals that talk and do things animals don’t normal do? Are the characters primarily voiced by celebrities? Do they make that goofy grinning face? Then it’s probably a Dreamworks movie.
I went to see the Vagina Monologues. I was disappointed. Given the name I’d hoped it was a ventriloquist act.
This inforatmoin is off the hizool!
I’ve never really been a fan of the Bechdel test. It’s a little too quick-and-dirty to tell you anything useful about a story, without a lot of other considerations. Well, even if it isn’t much a litmus, I guess it’s a good starting point for examining a movie from a gender studies perspective.
The first thing I thought of after looking it up was Educating Rita which has one female and one male character. The point of the play/film is to examine various roles.
The Doctor’s dillema another play that has a faithful film version has only one female character and her one role is to be desirable and to push for her husband’s treatment but the play isn’t supposed to be about gender roles at all it has a very singular and clear purpose as a propaganda piece for socialised medicine.
So basically I agree with you.
I always took the Bechdel Test as commentary of the state of today’s cinema instead of as a way to actually test a particular film.
Oh, sure, if you think hard enough you’ll find a explanation why every individual film doesn’t pass it, but *why* exactly are there so many movies that don’t? And why is it so difficult to find a movie that DOESN’T pass the Reverse Bechdel Test (i.e. There is more than guy, they talk, about something other than girls)?
Because guys usually want to see movies about guys. And girls like to see movies about guys if the guys are good looking.
So Hollywood usually keeps the main female roles for chick flicks. Sad, but true.
I don’t really think it’s as simple as “guys want to see movies about guys.” I don’t think that all men are significantly more narcissistic than women.
Guys are told that the movies for them are the movies that are heavily male dominated. America has a culture of machismo, where guys are heavily pressured to like certain things to prove that they’re manly enough. It’s unfair that boys grow up pressured into certain roles and feel pressured to have a certain taste. Everyone can remember the boy who wasn’t good at “boy” activities in school who was picked on.
A guy who loves movies that aren’t as male dominated might not be outwardly bullied as a schoolboy might be, but people would see him as odd.
Women aren’t under that pressure. If a woman loves pointless action movies, she’s seen as just being “more fun” than other women.
The Descent. Great movie. Only one dude in it and he dies about 5 minutes in.
The Bechdel test isn’t supposed to be some barometer for how good or feminist a movie is. It’s just an awareness-raising exercise, and a good one at that.
why would having a conversation between two women about a man faila test and exactly does that even matter if it is used to move the story along? (imt rying to poitn out where failing is good)
The point isn’t that movies that fail the test are automatically bad.
The point is to consider how few movies actually pass the test.
The idea of the test, I think, is to provide a litmus for whether or not the female characters have relevance that isn’t directly tied to their relationship with men. An individual movie can pass or fail the test and the meaning of that is up for interpretation, but when you match up a whole slew of movies and notice that a majority of them don’t have women with issues independent of men, it paints a bad picture. There’s an implication that media in general tends not to represent/care about how women think and feel on non-men subjects.
I’m actually seeing comparable numbers between ‘passing’ and ‘failing’ on the website linked below – the number failing is maybe a slim majority, possibly a minority. The popular perception, in this case, is not supported by data.
Honestly, to my mind, the Bechdel test is pedantry – like many of the other posters, I don’t see how its criteria test for anything of relevance. I can see how it might be bad if, in many movies, women were only present as romantic foils – but that’s not the case here. So what’s it for, if it can’t uphold the premise that female characters aren’t given enough relevance?
I am amused by the idea that only half of all movies passing the Bechdel Test is “good enough.”
Given that there are two halves to the equation, isn’t it good enough?
The more relevant way to use this would be to examine the male-female writer rate and the pass-fail rate on the Bechdel and Reverse-Bechdel tests.
Just because there are two possibilities does not mean that an even split is a good thing. To take an extreme example, either a person is a murderer or not. I don’t believe that 50% of the population being murderers is a good thing.
The reason I think that half of all movies isn’t good enough is that it doesn’t reflect how women actually spend their time, and implies that if what a woman is talking about isn’t a man, it’s not important.
It’s a test that applies to movies, but it tells you things about society in the whole, not necessarily about the movie in particular.
Consider the Reverse Bechdel test (a movie having at least two male characters, that talk to each other at least once about anything other than a woman)
Think about how few movies fail the Reverse Bechdel test (a tiny tiny subset of them). Think that about half of the movies (more of them I’d say) fail the actual Bechdel test.
Think about what this says about the genders being treated differently in our society.
If tomorrow a law came out that said “half the black people must go to jail” would you argue that it wasn’t a racist law because half the black people would still be free? Even though ALMOST ALL the white people would still be free?
You’re doing the same in regards to the Bechdel test — instead of comparing its results with the results of Reverse Bechdel test (a discussion of two men about anything other than a woman), you’re instead comparing the numbers that fail with the numbers that pass.
That’s not the proper comparison. Compare the results of the Bechdel test, with the results of the Reverse Bechdel: that’s the proper comparison.
Society is imbalanced in it’s distribution of men and women in various roles, so movies that focus on a particular aspect of live (military, police, organized crime) tend to ALSO have an imbalance of characters that are women. A simple ratio of male to female characters would reveal the same trend. Most of the movies i can see failing the bechdel test fail NOT because of the third requirement, but rather the first two: either there are just WAY more men than women in the movie, there are very few characters in GENERAL, or the lead is male and so most conversations are male/male or male/female. less than 10% of movies i could find in 2010 failed the bechdel test because of the third point. By comparison, about 20% failed at the second point, and about 12% failed the first point. This means a SIGNIFICANT majority of all movies from 2010 (more than 90%) are shown by the bechdel test to not portray women “only” talking to each other about men. The most likely reason for failing the SECOND point is simply because either there are more men than women in the movie in general and interaction between two women is statistically unlikely if there are only a couple, or the lead is male and is involved in most if not all of the conversations in the movie. The same is true of the first point, but without the “male lead” part. In short, the fundamental problem the bechdel test REVEALS is that movies in general portray more male characters in important roles…and that’s a problem, sure, because it’s a reflection of a trend in real life, for men to dominate a lot of fields. The problem i have with the bechdel test is that it implies a completely DIFFERENT problem by taking a problem that is caused by an imbalanced male/female ratio and adding criteria to the test that imply that the REAL problem is the PORTRAYAL of women. It uses statistics that are MOSTLY not about the way women are portrayed and tries to force it to prove a different point.
If you took all the movies that contained more women than men, and applied the reverse bechdel test to JUST THEM, you would likely see a comparable pattern to the regular bechdel test on movies in general. The fundamental issue revealed by the bechdel test is the imbalance of men and women in societal roles, yet the test itself implies a completely different issue.
I’m not saying the CONCLUSION of the bechdel test is WRONG, but the test itself does NOT prove the intended conclusion.
TLDR; The Bechdel test reveals a problem with society, but NOT the issue it IMPLIES that it reveals
Your argument doesn’t explain why most SF/Fantasy films that deal with other alien societies, also very often fail the test.
What was there about “Star wars” or “Star Trek” or “Stargate” or “Avatar” that for accurate depiction of reality required only one female present?
Stargate was military, and still had a female presence. Not a huge one, but spec ops are far more heavily weighted towards males than the military as a whole. Not saying it should get a pass, but it seems excusable in that case.
Star Wars and Star Trek were made in a very different time, and were incredibly progressive for the time they were in. Using them to prove sexism now is a bit of a tough sell. Miniskirts and a black woman on the bridge of a military vessel in the 1960’s was a huge step forwards, no matter what it may look like today.
Avatar I thought did pass the test, and definitely had a significant female presence(though the movie sucked). You could argue sexism in the sheer number of female characters that get killed off, but saying that it only had one woman is silly.
Not saying I disagree with your premise, just your specific examples.
It’s like this: Say you have a movie featuring a healthy mix of genders. In many of these films, you will see two male characters have a conversation about some subject other than women. It is less likely that you will see two female characters avoid the subject of men. Even if they avoid mention of the guys in the film, there is likely to be mention of fathers, brothers, or other men who helped define their character. Family members are the most common, because a woman’s success is often defined through her familial relationships.
Again, it has nothing to do with the how good a film is. It has to do with making viewers aware of a prevailing bias. It’s not the only one that deserves more attention, but it does deserve that, even if failing the Bechdel test doesn’t necessarily detract from a film’s quality, feminist or otherwise.
Why is it good if it’s always a male character who is the main focus of every movie?
I’m asking that only because you said that is is good if the female characters talk about the male character to move along the plot. That implies that the male characters are always the main focus of every movie, and that they are pivotal to all movies in ways female characters never are.
You fail to understand the Bechdel test. It’s not about having a conversation about a guys that fails it, it’s about the ABSENCE of a conversation about anything OTHER than guy.
The Bechdel test matters because it shows you how much movies (ones you wouldn’t consider sexist by themselves) reflect a sexist societal attitude about what is the default gender.
The Bechdel test is, in many ways, less about the movies themselves and more about what the movies tell us about the culture they live in. In most movies that have meaningful dialogue in the first place, guys will have conversations about their jobs, politics, the evil forces that will find the one ring, and whatnot, and girls will either only talk to males (and often very little of that), or when they do actually speak to each other, it’s about the men, the men’s jobs, the men’s politics, and the male evil force that will find the one right a male is carrying.
Men, in other words, are developed characters. Women are either accessories to the men or set dressing.
The situation is different in 2011 than it was in 1985, when the Bechdel Test was first posited in DTWOF. It has actually gotten better. But, when you can still cite half-to-a-majority of current films having male characters with lives and female characters who are part of male characters’ lives, it’s still a pretty telling thing.
a list of tons of movies and whether or not they pass this test!
This is interesting because if ‘Fun Home’ was ever made into a movie…..which will never happen, it probably wouldn’t pass the Bechdel Test since the main subject in the book was her father.
Fun Home: A Tragicomic of course is Alison Bechdel book…that I love
It’s a memoir, and characters do talk about other things. Her mother had her acting, she has her OCD phase which her mother tries to help her through, and she comes to grips with being a lesbian and having her first relationship (I’m almost positive she wasn’t talking about her dad while she and her first girlfriend were lying together naked).
Her father did play a huge part of her life. He was abusive to her and the rest of her family. He died when she came of age. His history was revealed when she came out of the closet.
She has said that the book is so heavily about her and her dad is because he’s dead, unlike the other members of her family whose privacy she tries to respect as much as possible.
So what does this test prove? A movie is sexist or a movie is feminist, or…?
Yeah, the way it SHOULD be used is to look at overarching trends, i.e. “why is it that women get to be decent characters in such a low percentage of movies?”
And yet 99% of the time I see it referenced, it’s by university students who declare, “Any movie that fails the test is sexist, oppressive tripe!” and “any movie that passes the test is a good thing!”
But that’s because when you go to college and first become exposed to critical thinking, you become very, very stupid.
There’s always an adjustment period at the start of any significant shift. There are also always people who never see their way through to the end of the adjustment period.
And college students will always be lunatics:-)
Don’t worry, I’m not exempting myself from this.
I finished watching Megamind and it totally failed the test.
I still loved it and I’m pretty feminist, especially about women in movies, but I guess not that much XDDD
I’m curious about that, too.
I researched the Bechdel Test and found out a movie passes it if two female characters talk and the content isn’t about a man…
but I never figured out what it proved s:
By itself it doesn’t prove anything, combined with the fact that lots of movies fail the Bechdel test, but very few movies fail the Reverse Bechdel test, it shows how our society treats genders differently.
It doesn’t prove anything.
All it does is point out, in general but pretty stark terms, the bizarre inequality of movies. Think about the criterion of the test for a second – they’re hardly difficult or unexpected. One would think pretty much every film would pass (with the exception of male-only settings like prisons or historical military) yet the majority do not.
What it proves, essentially, is that male movie characters are developed characters, and female movie characters are foils for the male characters.
Think about this — in America, as of 2010, the total population showed a slight majority of women vs. men. Women are more than half the population. Logically, in any given movie, half of the cast would be female, and therefore statistically any given expository conversation between characters would occur between two women 33% of the time.
That… doesn’t happen, most of the time.
You forget context.
Just because women make up ~50% of the total population, doesn’t mean they make up 50% of the contextual population.
A movie that takes place in a male prison should have very few if not 0 women in it.
A movie about the military should only be 20% female to represent reality.
Any movie that takes place in an office setting, women should make up about 40-45% of the populace.
So arbitrarily saying because women make up half the total population, they should be half the population of every movie is in itself sexist.
YOU’RE SEXIST FOR SAYING THINGS ARE SEXIST is my favorite comeback, especially when it’s just thrown onto the end of a paragraph at random for absolutely no logical reason.
Saying there should be more women just for the sake of there being more women is discrimination based on gender. Hence sexism
Its quite logical and in no way random
Not “just for the sake of there being more women.” It’s resolving an inequity. If I have two equally awesome kids, and I give lots of ice cream to one kid and lock the other kid outside with the dogs, and someone points this uneven treatment out to me, the answer is NOT to shrug and say “oh well, changing my behavior would indicate favoritism.” No, I have been doing something terrible, and it’s something I should attempt to rectify.
It’s nice to know that your answer to “I’m being treated unfairly” is “well, fuck off, that’s just the way it is.” I think very lowly of you.
Did I ever once say it was fair? No
I said, demanding half the cast be women was wrong.
There are movies where women don’t make sense contextually, just as there are movies where casting men just for the sake of “equality” wouldn’t make sense.
Thats what I was saying. Context is key.
I am 100% sure that Eric’s “any given movie” didn’t mean “every single individual movie ever, without exception.” He was not demanding that 100% of movies have 50% females in them, just that if things were more equal, there would be more female interaction in the movies we do have.
That logic is completely flawed. a LARGE subset of movies are about societies or aspects of societies where it is statistically accurate to have mostly men int he important roles. Compare the number of movies out there about historical societies that treated women inferiorly, or the military which is predominantly men, or a group of friends with a male lead, which is likely to have more male “friends” hanging around him throughout the movie than women, or a prison, where men and women are seperated so you only see one or the other, or a sports team where men and women are USUALLY seperate, so again, most interactions are one gender or the other.
The REAL truth is that IF movies were more equal, we would see an equal number of movies that were woman-centric as we would men-centric
We still wouldn’t see a lot with equal numbers.
We see more male-centric movies because the “jobs” that are more men-centric in real life are viewed as more “interesting” to the audience in general.
Now, if society were more equal, we’d see a lot more MODERN movies with even spreads, but historical movies, “group of friends” based movies, etc, would still be gender-centric. Even if jobs and such were PERFECTLY equal in men and women, a movie with a male lead may FAIRLY have more male characters in important roles because guys are around other guys more than they are women, and vice versa.
I think you’ve also forgotten context.
Take all movies that don’t feature both male and female characters out of the equation for a moment. Perform the Bechdel test on those pictures you have left. Compare your findings to a reverse Bechdel.
There will still be a considerable discrepancy.
Put the category you removed back into the test group, and you’ll find that some films featuring only women can’t pass the Bechdel test, while very few of those featuring only men would fail a reverse Bechdel.
David – You are way off base on your reply. Jayd deserves an apology. Do you usually respond to someone that you disagree with by personally insulting them (“I think very lowly of you”, really?) and profanity. It’s your site, but you should hold yourself to a higher standard.
I reserve the right to say whatever I want to those who wrongly accuse my friends of being sexist for saying perfectly reasonable things.
And when you find out that the person is responding to what he/she thought your friend said (to the point where you felt the need to clarify for him), you’re still not willing to apologize for your over-reaction? I guess I’ll just have to “think very lowly of you”.
I don’t agree with other things he said, either.
Feel as lowly about me as you wish. It’s my right, as well as yours.
Hey David. I don’t want to get involved in an argument here, but you may want to re-read Jayd’s posts. I think Jayd was simply trying to have a civil discussion, and you took it as an offense against a friend of yours. I understand that, I won’t take people talking shit about my friends either. I just don’t think that was what Jayd was doing.
Again, I don’t want to start anything, but this whole thing just seems blown out of proportion.
You guys are being very admirable and good people for trying to work this out amicably, and I’m glad you’re doing this, but you’re only speaking on Jayd’s behalf. I think I need to hear him apologize to Eric for calling him sexist first. That is my issue, and it’s yet to be resolved.
Wow. Interesting debate is interesting. Actually before this comic I had no idea what the Bechdel test was. Now there is a large debate going on.
So sorry if I don’t have a good piece of input. But yeah, I also think that just because a movie fails the test doesn’t mean it’s bad.
… Fuck I’m just saying things because I want in on this. meh Debates are fun. but since I don’t know crap about what the test is (nor do I judge a movie by it) I will continue reading unless this debate is finished.. Which it most likely is. Or maybe not. I’unno.
After skimming all these comments, I just have to say one thing…
I don’t think a movie that fails the test is bad. That so many do fail it might be bad, but not because it’s sexist…but because it’s boring (and frustrating for me because in movies I’m relating more to male characters instead of female and it’s a bit bothersome).
I want to see females in roles you normally see done by men and men in roles normally done by women.
Not because it’s right or fair or whatever.
Because it’d be interesting cause it’s new and I think, quite entertaining if done well.
…aaaaand, I replied to the wrong one. Go me.
Okay. Sure. If you do a movie about men in a submarine or men in a historical battlefield or men in a prison then SURE there is going to be as much as a 100% male cast. That is fine.
So… there are people who cannot realize that if there are situations which explain a male-dominated cast that there are a LOT of opportunities to tell stories with a female-dominated cast, in different situations? Because if that’s true then that is sad.
So where are these stories? Sure they’re out there but hardly in the same kinds of quantities that the male ones are.
As discussed, it’s about female presence in movies. If a number of movies fail this test, it paints a pretty clear picture about how little attention’s given to women in movies.
Good answer, Joe. Good…..Good answer.
Joe’s totally gonna get with Les.
I don’t think he’s her type.
The thing I’ve always wondered is, what about movies with a male main character? He’d be present in every scene, and so no two women would ever be seen having a private conversation with just the two of them. Do those fail?
Whether or not the protagonist is male or if the women have a private conversation is irrelevant. You just have to have them talking about something that isn’t guys.
If trinity walks up to another woman and starts going over the battle plan for tonight’s operation then bam! Matrix passes. Unfortunately more often than not that doesn’t happen.
Go through the trilogy and count all the male interactions that don’t include neo. There’s plenty to be found. The infamous scene with Cypher and the french guy for one. Any time that Morpheus talks to another of the leader types. It’s quite abundant. The male protagonist clause doesn’t really hold ground too well.
Quick note, I don’t actually know if the Matrix passes or not, merely using it to elaborate on why the male protagonist isn’t relevant to the equation.
**shakes head** oh joe…
**Waves fist in the air** Yo Joe!
The only point the Bechdel test tries to prove is how man-centric movies are. That’s it. The whole point is to look at movies and see that the vast majority of them are pure sausage fests. It’s not a test of a movie’s goodness or feministicity.
Yeah… I didn’t think it was too hard to grasp, but it sounds like a lot of people here have never heard of it so it makes sense that you take a moment to try and figure out what it’s all about.
But yes, that is indeed the purpose of the Bechdel test.
Just ran the numbers. Unless I miscounted, the total listing for 2010 on the bechdeltest website was 88 passes, 66 fails. Not a majority.
And yet still a depressing score, and nothing to be proud of.
It *is* an arbitrary and stringent test. You’ve stated that it doesn’t test the feminism or sexism of a movie – perhaps you could state what the problem this indicates is? I’m not certain I understand.
I think it isn’t to be overanalyzed. A movie that fails the test is a movie in which there ain’t two girls having a conversation that ain’t about man.
That alone isn’t bad. But we can see a tendency in the numbers: 88 passes, 66 fails; when passing the test seems really easy. It shows most films have few important woman in them.
Of course, this test alone can’t give you real data, but it is a good starting point. It makes you think why is that.
I think films, to a extent, reflect social conditions. Most films have a preponderancy of men cause there’s a preponderancy of men in a lot of places. In fact, nowadays most films have strong female charachters. But they are a minority in their ambients. A police woman, a lawyer woman, a politician, etc… They are alone in a male ambient. They will surely speak and have opinion, but mostly with men. This shows how there’s a long way for us to go if we wanna get to parity.
To Mr35: I think the thing is though it does show the focus tends to be on male characters even when they’re not even in the scene and often the main character IS male- because the assumption is that for instance male characters are characters EVERYONE can relate to, female characters only being relateable to other females. But heck even in typicaly female heavy films a lot of the time they’ll seem to be talking about ‘boys boys boys on the brain’. But heck even with adult women it’s the same in movies. The thing is it’s not exactly entirely realistic to life (past like…high school age anyway and heck even then) and in movies which have certain time limits and limited interactions compared to tv series it can be excessively dull and repetitive.
I don’t think the test is necessarily perfect all the time but it’s a good fall back and primary form of analysis before going into further detail with the film. Not passing the B test doesn’t necessarily mean itm isn;t feminist but it can be the first indication before diving into more details onto whether the film is feminist or not- maybe like a ‘flag’. Though I mean if the mention of a man is coincidental (eg. it’s because they’re discussing battle plans and he’s one of the equal leaders in the three of them) I think the film would still be considered feminist. As well as the idea that maybe romance is a sub-plot but in the movie may actually NOT be what utterly defines the main female character (along with BFF/rival/both? as sound board).
In movies where the main plot isn’t romance female characters are more likely to be defined by romance or their romantic relationship with a character of the opposite sex than the other way around.
How stringent is two women talking about something other than a dude, MR35?
What’s your point about saying they’re not a majority?
If you want to make an actual comparison, you should compare it with the results of the Reverse Bechdel test (a movie with atleast two men that talk to each other atleast once about anything than a woman)
Almost *every* movie passes the Reverse Bechdel test. That should tell you things about how being a guy is treated as the default gender.
You know, I thought the idea of a “Reverse Bechdel test” was ridiculous until I read this thread, but now I’m realizing it really is the only way to interpret this number. It’s easy to say “three out of seven, isn’t that awful,” but what should it be? The knee-jerk response is “0,” but let’s look at the actual test.
1: There must be two women in it.
Granted, unless your name is Sergio Leone or David Lean, you’ve probably got this one.
2: They must talk to each other.
Film is a very compressed medium, often trying to imply a novel’s worth of material in action that could be described thoroughly in twenty or thirty pages. Any conversation between two characters has to advance or illuminate the drama in some way. So…
3: About something other than a man.
Now, I’m not going to deny a lot of movies that should clear this easily don’t, but we’re saying 0 for the sake of argument. So no movies set in men’s prisons – two women might talk to each other, but what are they going to talk about that’s relevant when the main action is there? More generally, any movies about individual men, and especially the relationships between two or more men, are a dicey proposition, since anything that two women were to talk about would likely at least tangentially involve him or them. Yes, you could shoehorn such conversations in, but why? Such an afterthought only serves to disguise the underlying causes, and the fact that movies that do not contain such a conversation organically should be less frequent. They do, however, have a right to exist. How much of a right? Nearness to this laughable alternative metric is the only quantifier there is. If they were both at 90% failure (I imagine a banner year for terrible romantic comedies) it would be better than the current situation.
Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. s:
The Bechdel Test isn’t about feminism, it’s about sexist stereotypes. Think about it; if all the women talk about is their men, they are meeting a very sexist stereotype that’s been in existence since the 50s.
aw, can’t i have a female gravatar? or at least my normal one? -_-
Strange that your own didn’t show up in here. I’m mostly posting to see if my Neku avatar is going to show up. Maybe you forgot to write your email?
Hey, Danny can be concerned about this too. Look how bothered he is by the mistreatment of women in media.
But Billie seems to have a bigger chip on her shoulder in your avatar
I find this test an interesting food for thought, while not all movies that pass it are feminist and not all that don’t pass it are sexist I leaves you thinking about how limited female characters can sometimes be in fiction.
Well the fact that one of the roles of ‘The Five Man Band’ is apparently be ‘The Chick’ in Tv tropes is also an indication.
While the title itself seems telling, it should be noted that the role can just as easily be a guy as a girl. Thematically, it means the emotional center of the group.
The male examples only take up about a quarter of a page, but a chunk of the female examples belong to groups that are all or mostly female.
As an author I’m surprised at how often this test is failed, in fact I’m surprised this test exists at all.
It’s so easy to make an all female film, heck 90% of popular anime has mostly female casts, most of my stories will have a female in the lead with a female secondary character with little caring about boys at all.
The fact that this test exists and people care about it is saddening.
Why should it be saddening? Awareness is a good thing. Without it, progress is a lot more difficult.
As writers, I think we should be more concerned with the numbers pertaining to males that fail the bechdel test and females that fail the reverse bechdel.
Eh, I don’t really see how the fact that movies that pass the test don’t have a clear majority is supposed to be depressing. I just want the Bechdel Test stuff to be over.
Fun fact: It wasn’t until “Roomies” comic #39 that the Bechdel test was broken in a group of multi-gendered people and comic #89
(I counted quickly so it maybe off a bit…) that it was broken in the one-on-one conversation style
So is the Bechdel test used purely on movies or are other mediums subject to this treatment as well?
I think it’s interesting how some adaptations compare. The Harry Potter books and Avatar the Last Airbender series both pass (as a series anyway) but their movie counterparts don’t (as far as I know, I don’t think Katara and Yue would have had much screen time together). I’m wondering if this is because of constraints of the medium trying to squash so much plot into 90 minutes or so, or if the writers/ directors simply didn’t think that the characters were important enough to warrant the screen time.
I’ll say this much. Any time I’m writing fiction, it’s at least in the back of my head.
I seldom consciously think about it, but my fiction passes more or less automatically now. However, when I look back at my early work, it comes a lot closer to failing, but it also shows me how limited the test is. My early work was very close to failing this test simply because a) At the time, I was a girl whose close friends were all male and b) I perceived the daily interactions of my female classmates as being almost entirely talking about boys.
It’s just a point to consider.
It shouldn’t be. As a writer, you shouldn’t worry about gender equality, you should worry about telling a good story. So what if I failed the bechdel because I don’t have a female in this story, or failed the reverse bechdel cause I didn’t have any male characters talking. If the story was good, that should be enough.
“As a writer, you shouldn’t worry about gender equality, you should worry about telling a good story.”
This isn’t the reason most works that fail the Bechdel test fail it. The reasons most such works fail is because they treat male gender as the “default”.
And that makes for a bad story. So yeah the writer shouldn’t necessarily care about gender equality, but they *should* care about not treating one gender as the ‘default’ gender — the same that a hard-SF writer shouldn’t deal with alien civilizations as if their default language is English.
As you point out, it doesn’t work as well for TV or books because they have more time to pass the test. It’s a more accurate statement of the presence/importance/role of female characters in a story that has 90-120 minutes to do its thing and thus can’t afford to dick around much.
Comedy, thy name is Joe.
Epic face in the last panel btw
You fail, Joe, AGAIN. In fact, that is your new name, Joe Fail.
I’d say Joe definitively won that exchange.
If winning is valued more highly than learning, loss is almost inevitable.
Only if you define “winning” in that coked up “everyone’s laughing at you and not with you” Charlie Sheen way.
Way to pick the low-hanging fruit for a movie that doesn’t pass the test, Leslie.
It’s best to start with an obvious example, rather than one that could prove murkier. Finding a movie you assume will fail the test only to pass after a more thorough review is instructive, but it’s not a good way to introduce the test to people..
What’s the name of the test where a movie has to have two black people talk about something other than white people?
I’d widen it out, two people of color talk about something other than a white person. It happens, but it tends to be in movies that are intended for an audiences of color. The odds of two women of color having a conversation about someone who isn’t white or male… I can’t tell you for sure, but I’m guessing unicorns are as common.
TV is bad about ethnic/racial diversity. Look at Friends, long running popular show, all of the main cast was white. And it took place in NYC, a city with a crazy amount of diversity. It’s completely insane.
Still not as crazy as a show that made extensive use of Chinese imagery and language…except when it came to casting.
Firefly, I’m assuming?
Probably referring to The Last Airbender.
That’s a big one, sure.
Indeed, the movie was horribly cast.
This might sound bad, but even in a diverse area, there’s no guarantee that any of your friends would be a different ethnicity than you.
A lot of social groups are mostly one color. Friends should have had a lot more background diversity, but the main 6 being one race is forgivable, IMO.
Firefly is a more interesting case. Zoe and Book are black, and far from token characters. Inara is played by a Brazilian woman. A lot of the background and supporting cast is of a wide variety of races. And yet, there are no asians on the ship. It’s an odd discrepancy, and likely a result of racially blind casting, but it’s a bit strange when you think about it.
Shamalamadingdong’s Avatar, on the other hand, was racist as hell. 😐
The Tams were originally written as Chinese, actually. The Chinese are the *upper class* in Firefly, and that’s what the Tams are, and what Joss had in mind when writing. Then, Summer Glau and Sean Maher apparently blew the casting directors *and* Dr. Whedon away, and the rest, as they say, is totally racist.
The show was on for 10 years. 24 people is pretty damn low, given how many minor characters there were. It’s not huge, but it’s noticeable.
You know what show always passes the Beckdale Test with flying colours, every episode? “The Middleman.” It is a great show, and if you like this, you would probably like it as well.
That show was fun.
Sweet, that means one of my favorites passes, specifically Ever After
Day two of it being mentioned and there still isn’t a tag for Debbie Does Persepolis. I am disappoint. I know it’s not a real movie (yet), but by now it has to count as a real recurring subject.
It’s worth pointing out that they need to be named female characters. That is, they have to have a name that is stated during the movie.
This is also a bad way to approach the subject. Simply saying “have you ever heard of the Bechdel Test?” followed by a short explanation of what it is does the job nicely. When you do this, people will automatically try and prove it wrong (as is human nature) but they will instantly see the underlying point of the test, that is, the inherit sexism in the film industry.
I just want to point out how adorable Dorothy looks in this strip (at least the part of her that we see XD)
I would totally watch Debbie Does Persepolis … just saying
This Bechdel Test should add a few other criteria such as:
* Do these female characters have at least 5 mins worth of central screentime?
* Are these female characters more than just flat characters?
That’s somewhat implied by the basic test. If they’re talking to each other about something other than a man, in all likelyhood they’re somewhat developed characters with a decent amount of screentime.
It’s not intended to be a hard-and-fast rule anyways, just a quick shorthand for ‘Does this movie at least have more than a token female presence?’.
Indeed. By the nature of film making, if you have time for a *conversation* – not exposition, but an actual conversation, revealing depth of character and theme and shit – then you’re spending it on a character who is of vital importance to the movie.
I’ve long wanted to include a “Do the women characters get together and talk for no real reason except the authors seem to have been told to work in a Bechdel scene in the movie?” clause, myself. But it’s hard to be sure when that’s the case.
Film industry sexist? Next you are going to say Tobacco companies want kids to smoke or some other poppycock.
Hi guys, this is my first comment on a webcomic!…haha. But I think if we are going to think about this properly we really should find out how many movies pass The Reverse Bechdel Test compared to how many don’t. I’ve seen people bring up this already but I’m interested math-wise…I’m too sleepy to do math thinkings right now but in the situation that this is still in my mind tomorrow I’ll try to get the numbers of passes and fails on both sides of the spectrum for a recent year…although this could be my only comment for a while as well…I have a bad tendency to not remember to do things…also to go off on irrelevant and self-doubting tangents…anyways, I’ll try to find out exactly how uneven it is at some point because I’m intrigued by this now. (And I’m sure I’ll look here tomorrow and be embarrassed by either my overfull comment and inability to stop typing, or the fact that this comment managed not to pass moderation or something of that ilk…curse my inability to feel anonymous on teh interweebs) ARG JUST COMMENT ALREADY ME!
Haha, I’m Ethan, that both fits and contradicts my attitude…or maybe mostly contradicts…I dunno…I’m too sleepy to think straight so I’ll be quiet now.
Can’t think straight? Then it fits! 😛
That being said it would be interesting to compare the pass fail rates of the two.
ba dum pish
HAHA!!! XD I didn’t get that for a second but then it hit me like a train XD oh wow…yea I haven’t even had a chance to look for any statistics yet (darn online school and mom making me take twice the recommended class-load…also my job…) but I was still thinking about it today and that’s a good sign that I’ll try to do it eventually haha.
At least “9 Songs” fails both the Bechdel Test and the Reverse Bechdel test. The male protagonist (and narrator) does not actually have any conversations with anyone apart from his girlfriend, and she has one conversation (on the phone) with a female friend, but it’s about men.
Seeing as how The Shawshank Redemption takes place in a men’s prison…
It’s sort of like saying the TV series “Oz” doesn’t pass the test.
The Bechdel test was originally depicted as a litmus test, but even Bechdel’s admitted that’s not really how it should be used. Hell, the original punchline kind of (probably unintentionally) hints at the problem with that: “The last movie I saw was Alien(s?) – they talk about the monster.” The movie’s about a monster, so they talk about the monster. If the movie’s about a man, odds are most of the conversations are going to be about (or involve) a man. As long as there are movies about men, something whose complete abolition I don’t think too many would support, only artificial conventions will keep some of them from failing the test, and such conventions rather seem to me to defeat the purpose. The problem is that so many movies are about men, and even those that aren’t don’t always pass, depicting women as love-crazed, while the reverse can’t be said about even the few movies about women.
Okay, dammit, I just waded through this entire thread, I think I’ve earned the right to post.
GUYS, CHILL OUT!
A) The Bechdel Test does not prove a movie is sexist or not sexist.
B) The Bechdel Test ACTUALLY only proves whether an un-named (I think) comic book character would have watched a movie 25 years ago. (http://alisonbechdel.blogspot.com/2005/08/rule.html)
C) Taken more liberally, however, the fact that this happens roughly 60% of the time while the Reverse Bechdel Test happens roughly 1000% of the time is what makes it telling.
C.1) (I stand by that percentage. I mean, if a movie has more than two male characters, it WILL have two male characters talking about something other than women. You can get 5, 10, even 20 male characters talking about things other than women. And yet 40% of movies can do the same in reverse?)
D) It’s supposed to be a bit of telling anecdotal evidence. S’all. Nothing else.
The problem is how people use the test.
The fact of “how” was it invented is something different.
It’s an standar meassure to say wheter a movie is (or not) chauvinist, which is bad.
Just look at: BechdelTest.com
You’ll see that the movies have a “smily face” in case they pass. Implying they are “better” than the movies than don’t.
This, as you can guess is far from truth.
Also, there is the issue that “having the same rights” means “being 100% equals”. Men and Women will never be 100% equals, and accepting our differences is a step in order to acomplish “sex equality”.
Also, Men, while being allowed to talk to each other, are usually showed as shallow characters too.
(I dunno denny that women suffer from “shallowness” in movies more often than men, but I say that creating a page to rank movies with this test rule is ridicule)
You’re confusing “equal” and “the same”
Men and women will never be “the same” but they can be “equal” (which while there is less inequality in modern society than say twenty, fifty or a hundred years ago – there is still existing inequality).
You also would probably do well if you read a bit about the concepts of “privilege.” It gets bandied about a little too much sometimes, but it’s a very real thing. Your inability to see the other side of the coin is incredibly apparent.
I would change my answer back to Debbie Does Persepolis too.
Hmm, after reading all these replies I note that many, many people talk about the intent of the rule being about trend in movies, not about the feminism or sexism content of individual movies tested. But the origin of this rule is from Dykes to Watch Out for, correct? And in it, the character who quotes this rule does use it as a sexism yard stick and refuses to see any movie that doesn’t pass.
……Actually I’m curious how she knows which movies pass or fail in a pre-internet 1985 world without watching them. While they’re in theaters.
The initial context was whether or not the character would watch the film because it was sexist, true — But the reason why real people picked it up as a legitimate test is merely because of the trends it can show (due to the obvious exceptions that can be made regarding the films judged).
In other words, the test doesn’t work for it’s original intended purpose, but since it DOES work for judging films in aggregate, it’s still useful.
I wonder what the status is of movies which pass neither the Bechdel or the reverse Bechdel. Is a movie which only passes one but not the other sort of worse than one which can’t pass either? Or is a neither-movie double-sexist?
Come to think of it, are there any neither-movies? Given the range of cinema (and quality of things committed to celluloid) over the decades, presumably there’s something somewhere which fits the description. I guess the minimal version would be a two-word script: Female Character 1 says to Female Character 2: “Men.” Male Character 1 says to Male Character 2: “Women.” Roll credits…
I believe Marathon (2002) features only a single scene of dialogue and it’s between a woman and man, so it fails both tests.
Depending on who you ask, 127 Hours doesn’t pass either test since the two female characters never talk about anything other than the lead male, or if they do, it’s not plot relevent. And as far as I can remember, there’s only one male in the movie. Please correct me if I’m wrong
I was having mixed feelings about the Bechdel test then happened to read this posting by David Gaider of Bioware: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/304/index/6661775&lf=8
I think his post can be applied to films as easily as games. And yes, I’m embarrassed to say that I was one on the “majority content to let things stand”.
Does the movie Rat Race pass?
Off the top of my head, it must. One of the teams are a daughter and her biological mother who she just met. The daughter’s main concerns are financial. Also, they meet a lady who likes squirrels way too much.
Yeah, that’s what i thought.
The squirrel lady was awesome because she’s a serial killer technically.
that is a pretty good movie…
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