Thursday, November 7, 2013

This blog does not pass the Bechdel Test

I heard some talk on the Facebooks lately about Swedish theaters "grading" movies on their representations of gender equality using the Bechdel Test. I don't know if that's true or not and I'm too lazy to look it up but that's ancillary here since that news was merely the inspiration for this post, not the subject.

I also want to say before I go further that I totally understand the point of the Bechdel Test. I even wrote a blog post a few eternities back applying it to games. Female characters in entertainment media are often defined primarily by their relationships with male characters, which the test hopefully draws awareness to. That said, while it's not bad, it's also not a complete metric for gender equality. Like at all. It even says that right at the top of Edit: Ok I double checked and it's not exactly right at the top but it's still there so closenough.jpg

Because I am apparently pretending to be a screenwriter now, let's imagine two hypothetical movie pitches I just made up:

One features a woman who is (ship/plane/spaceboat)wrecked and has to survive all on her own using her own strength, wits and tenacious will to survive. She never talks to anyone though, so this movie fails the Bechdel Test.

The second is a movie rife with misogynistic themes about how women are dumb and overly emotional and should always try to look sexy and never talk back to men and be good little girlfriends and wives, but at point two girls talk about how much they love buying shoes. So it passes.

Admittedly, those are sort of extreme examples but WHATEVER. The point is, a movie passing the Bechdel Test does not mean it is a good movie filled with cheerful gender equality. This subject is a liiiiiiittle bit more complicated than that. Though I'm not saying we should stop using it, either. I'm also saying this candy bar I'm eating right now is delicious. I know that's kind of a non sequitur but I really thought you should know.

tl;dr The Bechdel Test is nice but it should not be the only metric for gender equality in media.