I recently learned about this phenomenon called the Bechdel Test for movies. Essentially, it is thus: For a movie to pass the Bechdel Test, it has to a) have two or more NAMED female characters that b) talk to each OTHER c) about a topic other than MEN.
Sounds simple, yeah? NO. It is unfortunately not FUCKING SIMPLE at all. I am angry.
So, after finding out about this thing I decided that I would check on the status of my favorite movies and every potential movie in the theatre I wanted to see. I have, for now, refused to see any movie that doesn't pass. Guess what doesn't pass? "Star Trek" barely has two female characters and they sure as shit don't talk to each other. A movie about the future doesn't include women, apparently. Gene Roddenberry would NOT approve. "World's End" (wtf, Simon Pegg? What the ACTUAL fuck?) has two or more named female characters but all they do is talk about the men. This movie is ostensibly (and I don't know, because I prevented myself from seeing a film that I SHOULD really enjoy) about a bunch of friends drinking and hanging out waiting for the end of the world. God, that sounds like a riot. I want to watch this movie, but it's on the surface a film that doesn't care enough about half the population to have them talking about something other than their male counterparts.
This thing has RUINED TV and movies for me, but it needed to be done, so I hope it ruins it for you too.
After the "World's End" debacle I asked myself if I was being too strict. I decided I was not. In the year 2013 women (again, 50% of the population of Earth? You know, HALF?!?!?) should be respected enough to appear in movies for reasons other than support of men in the form of sexuality and pep talks. I happen to know a lot of women (being that we're HALF the population of Earth) and you know what? We barely ever talk about men, especially for the purposes of trying to figure them out and never, I repeat NEVER, to worship them. There's the occasional, "He's so dreamy" but then we shake the stars out of our eyes and talk about our creative projects and music and pop culture and politics and literature and....
*deep cleansing breath*
When you think about it, this Bechdel Test is a really low expectation. All a movie has to do is have named females talking to each other about something, ANYTHING, but boys. How hard is that? A lot of terrible movies can pass the test. The test was created in the '80s and we still need it. This pisses me off to such a ginormous degree that I can actually feel my heart slamming against my rib cage right now. We deserve better, Simon Pegg. How hard would it have been to include three or four females in your pack of boy BFFs in your damn blockbuster movie?
One ray of hope is Paul Feig, the creator of "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat". "The Heat" is the only movie I've been able (As in wanted to watch and then succeeded in going to watch, time and funds allowing. There are others I have yet to see that pass.) to watch this summer. It is hilarious. See it. Paul has stated he strives to make everything he creates pass the Bechdel Test. Thanks for being on our side, Feig. Thank you so much.
Another pet peeve that's so far in our hypothetical future that it's like four post-Bechdel Tests from now: men in graphic sex scenes are never shown with a hand to the vagina during coitus. Most women need clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm during sex. As in the majority. But the women in movies and TV are shown losing their fucking minds during sex while the dudes are just jackhammering away (I'm talking to you, Bill Compton) without any regard to the nerve-centric pleasure center on the female body. Cliteracy, people!
My favorite movie of all time (as stated in this blog after extensive hours of analysis) is "High Fidelity" and it doesn't pass. There are many named female characters, but the only conversation between two of them occurs at a lunch between the characters of Laura and Liz and they're just talking about Rob the whole time. I had to reorganize my brain to explain away this betrayal by telling myself that they probably talked about several other topics too but because this movie is told from the point of view of Rob, this conversation could have been entirely in his head anyway and he's a selfish character so why would he think they talked about anything BUT him? Check out bechdeltest.com to see if your favorite movies pass.
The Bechdel test can be modified for minorities as well. Are there two or more named (insert minority here) characters? Do they speak to each other? about something other than the main white male characters?
Why the fuck is our society so backwards? We're just now letting same sex people get married but we still act as if women and people of color are second class citizens decades/centuries after legally giving them "equal rights" so how long will gay people still have stigma-status after their rights have been equalized? We're backsliding. I hate us so much right now.