But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Bechdel Test

Watch this video first, then listen while I discuss it. Then I guess you can comment.

I'm all for positive role models for young women. I'm all about women being equal to men in every reasonable measure (penis size is not a reasonable measure). But, in my opinion (without putting too much thought into it), movies that do pass this test tend to suck. I say that not because I can think of examples of movies that are bad, but because I can't think of a movie I like that passes this test. Hold on while I go through my DVD rack.

Okay. That was unfair. Nineteen movies (out of 173) movies passed the test. I didn't count TV shows, but I did count "Razor," the BSG middle-of-the-series "standalone" movie. I also didn't count Wall-E, which was generous of me, since they counted it as one against, which isn't fair because that was a movie about robots, which have no gender. None of the human characters had names. Notable movies that pass the test: Aliens, Breakfast Club, Center Stage, Crouching Tiger, Hannibal, Harry Potter, The Holiday, Kill Bill, Starship Troopers and Zoolander. Notable movies that did not pass the test: Anchorman, Count of Monte Cristo, Dances With Wolves, Dune, Love Actually, Jaws, The Hobbit, Predator, Pride & Prejudice, Star Trek (pick one), Tron, Twilight and Underworld. Good movies and shitty movies on both lists. Movies that portray women positively and negatively on both lists. Chick flicks, horror films and action movies on both lists. I just have to ask: What is the purpose of this test?

I have an idea. Women: for the next week, every time you talk to another woman that has a name (someone you know, not the bank teller or the traffic cop), make a note about whether or not a man comes up in the course of your conversation. I bet (with no agenda) that it will be pretty close, but that men (or a man in particular) will come up in more than half of your conversations with other women.

The sad fact is that (as much as it pains to give in to feminazi propaganda) we do still live in a male-dominated society. Things are getting "better," but it's still the case. Statistically speaking, it's more likely for your boss to be a man. It's more likely for the doctor to be a man, and it's more likely for the cop who pulled you over to be a man. (I feel like) Any person that you don't know with whom you are required to interact is more likely to be a man than a woman. So when you talk about your dentist appointment, or your trip to Best Buy, your asshole boss, or the cop who pulled you over, you're talking about a man.

So is it fair for movies to portray women as "always talking about men?" Yes and no. If you think it's okay for Alec Baldwin to smoke a cigar on 30 Rock, then it's pretty hypocritical to say it's not cool that Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski are always talking about their male co-workers. If, on the other hand, you think it's not cool for Alec to smoke on the show, because he's telling people that it's okay to smoke, then you subscribe to the idea that Americans are mostly children who need to be taught right from wrong. In that case, I can't call you a hypocrite for wishing that Tina and Jane would talk about something other than their co-workers (who are all men), on a show about how they interact with their co-workers. In this instance, I feel totally justified in calling you an ass, but I would be well outside any justification to call you a hypocrite.

Just to be clear, my reaction to this video is somewhere in the neighborhood of “who cares?” but I do think it’s worth a discussion.

So what do the rest of you (all three of you that read my blog) think? What’s the purpose of this test? How many movies on your shelf pass the test?


  1. You and I interpreted "talk about a man" differently. If two woman are talking about their boss running late for a meeting, the boss's gender is not meaningful, SO if the boss HAPPENS to be male, I would say "they are not talking about a man". BUT, if the say "our boss is so cute, rich, poor, sexy, ugly etc" then they are talking about a man.
    Another example "I got pulled over by a state trooper, he gave me a speeding ticket" NOT about a man. "I got pulled over by a CUTE state trooper, he gave me a speeding ticket." IS about a man.

    Strictly speaking, they are both "about a man" BUT I think that the point of the test is to say that movies are male centric (they are), and the first state trooper example (to one of your points) does not exemplify that. It just so happens that there are more male state troopers than there are female.

  2. Ah. By the tone of the video, I assumed it meant any time you talk about a male human. They're basically trying to get at the point that movies and tv are generally sexist, and I don't necessarily disagree.

  3. Meh. Pretty weak tea, me thinks. Shrek? Really?

    And Dune? Doesn't Lady Jessica discuss her deifying the Bene Gesserit with the Reverend Mother? Two named women, no boy talk. Pass.

    And what about all the movies on that list that have a female as an integral part of the plot?

    Sexism, along with racism in America, is going extinct as the generations pass. It's kinda hard for me to get all in a tizzy over a failed hypothesis such as this. Might as well ponder the inequities of the unbalanced race representations in the NBA. We can, but why?

  4. I agree on this point that it feels like we are stretching to find sexism.