The Bechdel Test, sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule. For a nice video introduction to the subject please check out The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies on feministfrequency.com.
Since I’ve been wondering if there was a way to do a similar thing for Black people in films? We usually get stereotyped and frankly typecasted in certain films, so would it work? I certainly think so…
So here’s my start…
- The film has to have at least 2 black people in it, who…
- Talk to each other calmly and not threatening, about…
- Anything except Drugs, Guns, Hiphop or Cash.
Sounds simple but trust me, now you’ve seen these rules… you will be surprised how many films fail on even point number one.
- Tron Legacy – Fails on all points
- The Social Network – Fails on all points
- Inception – Fails on all points
- Scott Pilgrim vs the World – Fails on all points
- Unstoppable – Passes on all points
- The Matrix series – Passes on all points
- I am Legend – Passes on all points
- Enemy of the state – Fails on all points
I can certainly think of a load more… Can you?
Zoe Margolis sent me a link to her review of the new Tron Legacy on Screen Jabber. Although I was thankful for her review because Cristiano and Melinda had also seen it and said some pretty bad things about it, I saw a link to the Bechdel Test.
It’s also annoying that all the female characters in the film are wearing high-heels, as if all women in the digital future are – or should be – obsessed by looking as sexy as possible, rather than wearing something more practical and fitting for the dystopian environment. TRON: Legacy certainly doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.
So I had a look at the Bechdel Test, and found the rules.
- It has to have at least two women in it
- Who talk to each other
- About something besides a man
Yeah, I think I’d go beyond "dubious" and say it fails–both because Marion Cotillard’s "character" is actually part of a male character’s subconscious and because the (<10-second) conversation she has with Ellen Page’s character is at least subtextually about the male character.
However Scott Pilgrim vs the World also bearly passes with a dubious mark too.
I’d call it dubious. Knives and Tamara talk about how much Knives hates Ramona, and how Knives is dying her hair. It’s dubious because both conversations are really about Scott.
Knives does talk to Kim about the band, but it’s not really a "conversation" so much as three lines of dialouge ("Are you a drummer?" "…Yes" "That’s so cool!". I still think it counts, though.
This is fantastic but also its sad that so many films stereotype woman into stupid roles.