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  1. #1
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    Interesting movie "test"

    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. #2
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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/

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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.

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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 by GarrAarghHrumph; 01-08-2013 at 08:28 PM.
    Use Yah Blinkah!

  5. #5

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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.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  6. #6

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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. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    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.
    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.
    It's official. I am madly in love with Meryl Davis.

  8. #8

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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.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    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.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    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.
    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 ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sofia Alexandra View Post
    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.
    Did I say it wasn't?
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    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.
    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.

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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.

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    For some reason I'm channeling "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane".

  17. #17
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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. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    For some reason I'm channeling "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane".
    Is this the most recent movie we've come up with that passes the three points of this test?
    It's official. I am madly in love with Meryl Davis.

  19. #19

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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.

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    And Clove, when Clove was trying to kill her Yes, THG absolutely passes.

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