Bechdel and Me

Well hello there!  I suppose this is the place where I offer all my sincerest apologies for not writing in ages and, by way of defense, list the myriad responsibilities, obligations, projects, major and minor catastrophes, and sundry timesucks that have plagued me these last eight weeks.

I'm terribly sorry.  Can we ever move past this?  What's that?  It was nothing?  You've already forgiven me?  Fantastic!

Because today I want to talk about women.  Specifically women in film.

Recently I learned all about the Bechdel Test (And by learned all about, I mean watched this video) -  three simple questions to gauge a film's treatment of women.  Are there at least two women in it?  Do they talk to each other?  Do they talk to each other about something other than a man?

Fascinating stuff, right?  Now I love movies.  Deeply.  Passionately.  But not, apparently, vaginally.  Because after going through my approximately 200 movies, I counted about 20 who passed the test, and some of those quite dubiously.  I'm not sure a thirty second conversation about medication should qualify No Country for Old Men, but that is a conversation between two women that is not about a man.

With standards like that, only 10% of the movies I own (not the movies I've seen, but the ones I liked enough to want to watch again and again) pass?  Over at The Bechdel Test Movie List their list of 854 movies has about 50% passing the test.  Discrepancy, much?

Now, I've come up with a few plausible explanations . . .
  • Their list may have more passing movies because people are eager to add passing films to the list.  
  • A passing movie =/= a feminist movie and many films that pass are full of damaging, painful stereotypes (hello SATC!).
  • It's quite possible to make a movie that does not pass but still treats women as real, important people (Strange Days).
  • My collection might be devoid as all hell of passing movies because I have internalized a lot of misogyny and gravitate towards male-centric films and male characters.
  • A nice clusterfuck of all of the above.
Interestingly, my extensive collection of television on DVD all passes the Bechdel Test.  I guess when you have years to tell a story, instead of 90-120 minutes, you can spend time on the unimportant - like women.  I've yet to analyze my book collection and, frankly, I'm scared to.  But if we are to grow, we must do the thing that scares us . . . so stay tuned for a deeper look at ladies in books.  My books.

1 comment:

  1. I always find this kind of thing interesting (and a lot scary!) especially when I spend time listing favorite authors and find so many of them are men. I guess the first step is being aware of the problem so maybe this kind of test is the first step in the right direction?