Interesting movie "test"

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by TheGirlCanSkate, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Active Member

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    http://squarise.com/2011/09/bechdel-test-is-matters/

    I never thought how few movies can follow these rules:

    1. There are two female characters
    2. Who talk to each other
    3. About something other than a man

    It gives a strange twist to recognizing relationships on screen between women (that don't revolve around a man).
     
  2. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    The Bechdel test has been around for nearly 30 years ... and still a staggeringly low percentage of films can pass.

    As the analysis points out, it's by no means a rule for determining whether or not a film is intrinsically "good." But it's still a pretty shocking indictment of the gender bias in Hollywood.

    BTW, if you're intersted, there's a user-driven database of films that rate films purely on whether or not they pass or fail the test: http://bechdeltest.com/
     
  3. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Active Member

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    Correct, just passing doesn't mean the movie is a good or worthwhile film. Yes - staggered is how I felt - esp in the realm of child/teen films. I find a much broader list when thinking about books - movies fall seriously short.
     
  4. GarrAarghHrumph

    GarrAarghHrumph I can kill you with my brain

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    TV's like this a lot as well. It's actually easier for me to count up what programs do pass the test, they're few enough. So... a challenge.

    As done in the article, "name me some Bechdel movies" and tv shows where most of the episodes would pass the Bechdel test. No fair if you look them up - what have you personally seen that might pass?
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  5. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    If two women talk to each about about something other than a man, but the dialogue is terrible and the acting sucks, I don't want to see that film. I get what the test is saying, but it's kind of...limited.
     
  6. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    What comes to my mind is female buddy films (admittedly rare), mother-daughter or other female bonding (sisters, girlfriends) dramas -- mostly from the 1980s because that was a period when I personally watched a lot more movies than I do now.

    Many of the topics of conversation would have been men in their lives. We'd have to go back and rewatch to know how much time was spent on other topics. My question about the test is whether the film passes if only one scene has no discussion of men, if there was discussion of men sprinkled in each of the scenes that also spent more time on other topics, and whether it counts if the men being discussed are peripheral characters who don't drive the action but provide the context for the female characters' lives and choices.
     
  7. PeterG

    PeterG Argle-Bargle-ist

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    The test is saying that there are TONS of movies where there are two (and often more) males in the movie...who also talk to each other...and their discussion is not focussed on women in some way, shape or form. However, the same is rarely true in regards to movies with two women who actually speak to each other and the dialogue isn't in some way about men. The test highlights sexism in a way that most of us don't think about. Which I think is very interesting, because I'm starting to see subtle forms of other types of oppression as well (classism and racism, etc.) and it's interesting how blind we can be to things at time. Bechdel has turned on the lights. :)
     
  8. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I know that's what the test is getting at. I'm not saying that the test is invalid or that it doesn't point out something important. It just seems to be a pretty limited way to choose what movies to watch.

    And just to stir the pot a bit ;) assuming that two women talking about a man is always trivial and demeaning to women could be interpreted as being a bit sexist itself.
     
  9. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    So don't use it for that purpose. No one's suggesting that you should, even though that's how the comic strip character who originated it used it.
     
  10. Sofia Alexandra

    Sofia Alexandra Well-Known Member

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    As is the assumption that a conversation between two women about something other than men must be so trivial it isn't worth making films about.
     
  11. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    It's not intended to be a tool to choose what movies to watch. It's only intended to be a tool to think about the movies and the movie industry as a whole -- and what that says about about the broader society.

    Again, it doesn't mean that "women talking about men" = always trivial/sexist/demeaning. But if the only conversations between two or more women in a movie (or TV show, or book) are about men ...
     
  12. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    Did I say it wasn't?
     
  13. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Also from the 1980s, I remember watching a scene between Alfre Woodard and France Nuyen on Saint Elsewhere and taking note of the fact that no one in the scene was either white or male. I don't remember what they were talking about. Probably a patient or a coworker, who was probably male (and white). But I don't know that that counts as "talking about a man" so much as "talking about work," the example happening to be a man.
     
  14. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Go read the comments on that site with the lists. It highlights the absurdity of the whole thing. For example, there is debate about Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince because the conversations between women are about the deatheaters in one case and between Draco's mother and her sister about him in another. So since some deatheaters are men and Draco is her son not her daughter, the film is considered to not meet the requirements by some posters. Other posters point out that some deatheaters are female and the discussion is about defeating all of them so it shouldn't count, and that a mother talking about her child should not count as "women talking about men".

    On the same list, you'll find that the anti-abortion propaganda October Baby meets the test.

    I'd rather have the teenage girls I know watch a Harry Potter film. Test or no test.
     
  15. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Active Member

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    I haven't seen many movies that pass the test, but I see about 2-3 a year.

    There just aren't many choices. Even The Rise of the Guardians had the Toothfairy (f) and Baby (f) mimic the conversation of crushing on Jack Frost (Baby doesn't talk, she chirps). I think if anything it will spur questions and conversations with my daughter.
     
  16. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    For some reason I'm channeling "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane". :lol:
     
  17. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    It definitely doesn't mean a movie is bad that it "fails" the Bechdel test ("Star Wars" fails miserably, as does "Raiders of the Lost Ark", but I'll still take Princess Leia and Marion Ravenwood as role models. Also, nearly EVERY female/female conversation in "Pride and Prejudice" involves discussing a man...is that a bad thing?)

    And the concerns regarding whether Harry Potter passes or not (which I think could apply to, for example, "Pirates of the Carribean", at least the sequels, "The Avengers", "Titanic" for that matter...) are a valid criticism of whether the "test" is in any way meaningful. Likewise does it automatically demean a character (take Maria in "The Avengers") because she spends most time talking to a male character, (Nick Fury) despite it being entirely logical and in a professional context?) There's an element of applying the Bechdel test that does automatically imply 1. all females automatically prefer to talk to/be around other females regardless of subject/context and failure to include that is automatically contrived and 2. as overedge said, there's the implication that having women converse about men and relationships is inherently demeaning.
     
  18. PeterG

    PeterG Argle-Bargle-ist

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    Is this the most recent movie we've come up with that passes the three points of this test?
     
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  19. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

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    In terms of recent movies, The Hunger Games would pass this test, right? Katniss didn't even have a love interest in the movie, really. She interacted with her mom, sister, Effie, Foxface and Rue.
     
  20. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    And Clove, when Clove was trying to kill her :lol: Yes, THG absolutely passes.
     
  21. PeterG

    PeterG Argle-Bargle-ist

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    So it was Whatever Happened To Baby Jane followed by The Hunger Games?? :lol:

    :p
     
  22. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    Ah, sweet irony. ;)

    Getting back to classic films, quite a few would pass: The Women, of course, and also Gone with the Wind, My Fair Lady, Gaslight, All about Eve, Stage Door, The Nun's Story, The Song of Bernadette, Stage Fright, The Old Maid . . .

    Oh, and as for recent films: Les Miserables passes. There's Madame Thenardier's conversation with little Cosette and then with little Eponine. Also Fantine's conversation with the woman who wants to buy her hair. And you could count Fantine singing to Cosette, even though the latter isn't physically present.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2013
  23. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Who were the 2 female characters in My Fair Ladyand Gaslight? I remember those movies as being primarily about a woman and a man.
     
  24. Wyliefan

    Wyliefan Well-Known Member

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    In MFL, Eliza talks with Mrs. Pearce when the latter takes her up to her new room. In Gaslight, Paula talks with Elizabeth and Nancy (the cook and the maid), and I think (though I'm a little hazy on this) that she also talks with other women on the rare occasions that she goes out.
     
  25. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    Fried Green Tomatoes? Kathy Bates character and that woman in the nursing home. Little Women. Jo talked to her mother and sisters about her career aspirations. They all talked about morality and money. Beauty Shop, Gina used to talk to her daughter and niece about their futures, and to Alicia Silverstone about careers. Steel Magnolias. The mother and daughter talked about taking risks and having a short life vs. playing it safe and having a long life filled with nothing special. Jane Eyre and Helen Burns in the latest version of JE. Hairspray (integration and careers). A League of Their Own.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  26. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    One that stuck out was Hilary Swank and Francis O'Connor, the stars of "Iron Jawed Angels" about the suffragette movement and voting rights. And I just watched a movie, or mini-series (?) on the Sundance Channel called "Restless" and the three stars were women: Charlotte Rampling, Hayley Atwell and Michelle Dockery. But I often wonder how female actors sustain their careers. I hope it changes. It helped that both movies were about issues more than human relationships.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013
  27. skategal

    skategal Bunny slave

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    My Life Without Me.

    Great movie by Sarah Polley, 3 adult female characters. Lead character learns she is dying and prepares for her death while shielding her young children, husband, mother and friend from the truth.
     
  28. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    I think it took Hollywood a long time to realize women like going to movies in the summer too. I think "The Devil Wears Prada", "Bridesmaids" and "Julie and Julia" pass the test and did well at the box office.
     
  29. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    Also since the 90's Jane Austen has been so popular on-screen. I think they pass the test because in Austen's day men literally controlled all of the wealth as women could not inherit. It might have been about romance but it was also about survival.
    sorry for the doublepost...
     
  30. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I think it depends on who is producing it. Some of the more commercial movies have focused on romance, but Austen's novels are more about duty vs. romance or personal inclination which is a universal theme. However, she dealt with such a limited millieu that the only life altering decision her characters had to make was to marry or not.