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07 September 2008 @ 08:04 pm
it's impossible to know anything about a film without seeing it  
There is a test, commonly called the Bechdel Test, that a film passes if
  1. it has at least two women
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than a man

An argument I keep seeing about using it as a rule for what films to see is that you can't tell whether a film passes or not without seeing it. That's not true unless you are the only person in the world who knows of the test. How about asking someone? How about reading feminist reviews?*

I've just found a small database of films and whether they pass the test/how badly they fail. http://bechdel.nullium.net/

What I'd like to see now is a reverse Bechdel test database - more than two men who talk to each other about something other than a woman. I imagine most films would pass that.

* I have no intention of using it as a rule. But the illogic annoys me.
Current Mood: grumpygrumpy
Caturah Winterhartcaturah on September 7th, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
See, I think as a rule it's flawed in ways as there are some films that fail it spectacularly, but that's because they're supposed to... Master & Commander some to mind as the too-obvious example...
(Deleted comment)
a very caring potatomollydot on September 8th, 2008 08:49 am (UTC)
You beat me to it :-)

Yeah, it doesn't matter if a particular film passes or fails. What's important is that the majority fail.

I haven't seen Master & Commander, but I imagine it's set on ships which historically would have been all male? Most films aren't. Most are contemporary. There aren't that many roles that have to be male.
Caturah Winterhartcaturah on September 8th, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
Sorry, that comment was posted late last night, while I was coming down with a cold. Common sense did not prevail.

I'm aware the "rule" is only used to highlight the male-centricity of movies, but there's something about it that grates terribly, but I couldn't tell you why.
lazy_hoorlazy_hoor on September 8th, 2008 08:39 am (UTC)
The very phrase "rule for what films to see" is objectionable in my opinion. I the idea that there are rules to what I should watch or should enjoy somewhat akin to censorship, surely?

I understand this test is more of an awareness rasing thing more than a list of rules but even at that it's flawed. I mean, Sin City gets a smiley face! Out of all the films I've seen in recent years, that one veers closer to misogyny than any other.
a very caring potato: zoe soldiermollydot on September 8th, 2008 09:13 am (UTC)
As a rule, it's only ever been suggested as a personal rule - a character in this strip chooses to only watch films that pass.

If it was censorship, there'd be no problem making the decision - a non-passing film simply wouldn't be available to watch, so you'd know everything else passed.

See comments above - it's the tendency for films to fail that's an issue.

In the stats available on the site, there's more passes than I would have guessed. I suspect it's an artifact of there only being a few films up there. Also, it's easier to prove a film passes than that it fails - to submit a film as a pass, all you have to do is remember one bit of dialogue, but to fail it, you need to check the whole thing (except for the big red X, where checking the imdb cast list would do).

The biggest group is having at least two named women, but they don't talk to each other. At all.

And even many of the ones that pass barely pass. The Dark Knight has one woman talking to another at gun point, relaying a man's words, talking lying about another man's wishes. Serenity has River talking to the teacher in those flashback/dream sequences. Serenity? The film with the ship that has almost equal numbers of men & women? Written by a self described feminist?

Yeah, Sin City gets a pass. But it's a really low bar. Why do most fail?

a very caring potatomollydot on September 8th, 2008 12:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, and here's another test, especially for Frank Miller, which Sin City fails: http://aaru-tuesday.blogspot.com/2007/10/1958.html If the female sex workers outnumber the non-sex-working women, fail.