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Not all that glitters is gold

In 2013, Failing the Bechdel Test Was Bad for Your Movie’s Bottom Line


Ahh, it’s good to see The Bechdel Test used where it is most applicable: as a lens through which to expose a misrepresentational trend in modern film overall rather than specifically. Vocativ took nearly fifty of this year’s top grossing blockbusters, sorted them by whether they failed or passed the test. Turns out movies that passed were significantly more financially successful than not.

This is merely correlation between having movies make sure that their female characters, even the secondary ones, are shown to have thoughts and feelings that revolve around something other than male characters. What’s much more likely to be the causation, though, is that effective writing means you get good female characters, and effective writing produces successful movies.

(via Twitter.)

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  • Troy Lenze

    That infographic could also be caused by more movies passing the test than not. What I’d like to see is a rank listing of gross box office with a pass/fail next to each item. That would be a better way of showing if passing the test correlating with a bigger box office total.

    Still, yay for lots of movies passing the test in 2013!

  • http://zadl.org/ Captain ZADL

    It took me forever to remember that there was a second woman in Pacific Rim. now I’m sad to realize that I completely forgot the Russian pilot.

  • Cellism

    She did have about two lines, sadly. Then she died.

  • Cellism

    I’m not entirely sure why Gravity is stuck in the middle in grey? Is that because it was essentially a one-character story but she was a woman?

  • Elizabeth Wells

    I didn’t notice there was only one woman in Jack the Giant Slayer partially because there were so few characters who weren’t cardboard cutouts anyway. (Still liked the movie in a cheesy way)

  • Elizabeth Wells

    Yeah, all the other colours are labelled, what does grey mean?

  • Samuel

    Sidenote, how did Cloudy 2 fail the Bechdel test? Barb and Sam have several discussions and arguments over how to implement plans, how to deal with the foodimals, and over who counts as a real scientist (Sam is a meteorologist, Barb is a research scientist).

  • Benjamin Meis

    Why is the Bechdel test still a thing? Haven’t we all agreed it doesn’t show anything actually useful re: portrayal of women? Wouldn’t it be better if we looked for movies in which women are given a fair and non-negatively reinforcing manner (which by the way, women can be portrayed in a movie in a totally degrading manner and still pass the Bechdel test)? Why is two women talking about a man non-realistic? Do women not discuss their boyfriends or romantic interests? Men discuss women all the time; its just part of being human, sharing your life with friends. Can we get a new standard – pretty, pretty please?

  • scarecroe

    How does Man of Steel pass?

  • locuas

    IF the movie is a romantic comedy or where romance is important, i can agree with you there. the problem is in a movie like…say, G.I. Joe where the focus is in stoping the bad guys, you can’t have your females characters only talking about the men in their team while they talk about the important stuff. The bechdel Test at least can tell you if the female character does something else besides wanting to……”touch thor’s hammer” as i heard someone once say. of course it is not a reliable method(personally i thinki the female lead in Pacific Rim was okay. And Black Widow was awesome in avengers) but it at least can help you when trying to decide if the female character was well written.

  • Cad Wallader

    It would be interesting to see a definition for “dubious.” If those movies didn’t pass, then their removal would erase more than a billion from the top segment and add it to the bottom. It seems odd that a standard as easily defined as the Bechdel should have a category deemd “dubious.” Do they talk about a man or don’t they? Is it because the discussion is about a man, but not romantically? Does that determination make a difference?

  • locuas

    i thik Lois Lane had a conversation with the rusian Kryptonian andit is debatable that her loyalty of Zod was that of a soldier or a crush.

  • scarecroe

    Nevermind, here’s the entry: http://bechdeltest.com/view/4238/man_of_steel/

    I agree that it’s dubious. Maybe MOS2 will get a conversation piece between Lois and Diana about something other than Clark.

  • locuas

    the problem is that oyu can make, in those cases, a strong argument for both sides if it passes or not. Thor, for example, has Jane talking with her assistant about the anomaly that may let themfind thor. Now this technicaly does not pass the test, BUT, you can make a strong argument that finding thor is a bonus because they had been resear4ching this before meeting him. She also had a line with Syf during her rescue.

  • glyssix

    I don’t think the issue is that women discuss men, it’s that they ONLY discuss men. I wonder what a reverse Bechdel would look like, if they screened male characters the same way. Probably nearly all these movies would pass. There’s nothing wrong with talking about who you’re attracted to, the problem is if a character is only thinking about that. Then they aren’t real (or at least real interesting) people..

  • Benjamin Meis

    I would agree, IF the Bechdel test said anything about the quality of the dialogue; however the Bechdel test simply proscribes a specific topic, which says precisely zero about the content. It says nothing about how they discuss the man (two women could easily talk about a man without it even being romantic, i.e. two female heroines discussing how to beat a male villain and it be legitimate and yet fail the Bechdel) that is my problem with it. If it gave any kind of qualitative analysis, then I’d say go for it, but it literally says nothing about a movie.

  • Stephen C

    While I don’t totally disagree with your point, what makes it unrealistic (and why it fails the Bechdel test) is that women in real life don’t *only* talk to each other when it’s about a man, just as men don’t only talk to each other when it’s about a woman. Imagine a movie where the only lines with men talking to each other was about a woman.

  • Cad Wallader

    I dunno. Talking science passes. Talking Thor doesn’t. Did they talk science without mentioning Thor? If so I don’t remember it.

  • Betty Anne

    The last time I read up on the Bechdel Test, the “dubious” standard came from mainly two types of interactions – two women talking about a man but it was NOT romantically-motivated (for example, Pepper and Natasha talking about kicking bad guy ass in Iron Man) or from a well-rounded female character who doesn’t necessarily talk to other women for any length of time about anything, but does interact with them, and the interactions are largely the same interactions she has with male characters. These are cases where the woman/women in question are not the “princess to be saved,” but at the same time, a male is still generally the focus of the film.

  • Anonymous

    They explain at the website that they didn’t feel like it really fit in either category because there were essentially only two characters in the entire movie, and Sandra Bullock had far more screen time than George Clooney.

  • Anonymous

    Darcy and Jane joke about not being Americans (and being arrested). Jane also talks to the Asgardian doctors about their equipment.

  • Michael McNinch

    Another person failing to understand the Bechdel Test. Of course it doesn’t saying anything about the quality of the movie itself – it’s about the content of MOVIES IN GENERAL.

    For example – A movie can contain two women talking about something other than men and still be sexist. The problem is not two women talking to each other – it’s that so often they are limited to discussing the “menfolk” whom their lives are almost inevitably based around.

    We have plenty of ways we judge a singular movie that have to do with it’s over-all quality and the Bechdel test is not one of those – nor is it meant to be.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Thor 2 passed several times, not dubiously, most notably when Jane was talking to the Asgardian doctors about the technology used to examine her.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    And Darcy and Jane also discuss the research they’ve been working on since before Thor 1′s timeline.

  • locuas

    it exists, it’s called twilight (sorry…)

  • Carmen Sandiego

    It’s a very basic test and definitely shouldn’t be the maximum studios strive for. And most people would say that Pacific Rim, though not passing the test, does have a well-written, fully-rounded female character.

  • http://benscofield.com Ben Scofield

    Well, this post and the source both say they’re looking at the 50 top-grossing films of the year. Here’s a link to the list: http://boxofficemojo.com/yearly/chart/?yr=2013&p=.htm

    Mama, Turbo, GI Joe: Retaliation, and Percy Jackson are 43rd, 20th, 22nd, and 47th, respectively.

  • brilance

    I would question Oblivion’s placement in the bottom sector. Didn’t the woman in the house and the control room woman talk to each other a whole bunch? Or is that all considered to be “about” Jack?

    I’d say it should at least count as “dubious”.

  • Anonymous

    glyssix put it best; it’s that they ONLY talk about men, in this sexist fantasy that “women’s lives revolve around men”.

  • JJ

    And in that case it’s a fail… I don’t get why one could argue any other way. The rules of the test are clear.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    I can see where greyness might come into what the two women talk about (Iron Man 3, for instance, Pepper and scientist lady whose name I forget have a conversation but YMMV on how little it focuses on the men in their lives), but the Bechdel criteria are pretty simple. We all know the rules aren’t a direct indicator of a good movie, so it would make a whole lot more sense to interpret them quite literally IMO rather than try and give certain movies subjective passes.

    Gravity’s 2 characters COULD (in theory, I haven’t seen it) have been two women, in which case it would have been a straight pass. Putting it in the grey area when it clearly does not meet the Bechdel criteria is a bit silly.

  • http://lighterthanheir.com/ nalem

    Sheesh, most of the films that passed Bechdel were pretty bad [and I don't mean ALL, I did like some of those. I think...]

    All this tells me is “come on, let’s make a GOOD one that passes Bechdel.”

    Right, team? All on 3? One, two ,three. Break!

  • The Bechtloff

    I can’t believe anybody takes this asinine metric seriously. Say I make a movie about a woman who gets shipwrecked on a deserted island. Damn near the whole movie is her fighting for survival in this harsh wilderness. She talks to no one but herself. And in this theoretical movie we see this woman survive using nothing but her will, strength, and wit. And at the end she sees a boat going by the island and swims with all her strength and the final scene is her being brought onto the boat. Bechdel says that movie is sexist.

    Meanwhile Debbie Does Dallas and Two Girls, One Cup both pass the Bechdel test. I mean I’m certainly no fan of third wave feminism but even I’m amazed at the intellectual bankruptcy necessary to take the Bechdel test seriously.

  • Anonymous

    In their very first scene they are talking science and the the science thing that looks like it doesn’t work. I think there’s an undertone to Jane’s thoughts that obviously run towards Thor, but he’s not mentioned, only hinted at. The conversation is very much “some weird and sciencey is happening”. They continue this at the location of the anomaly. I believe Thor might be mentioned there, but he’s not the subject of the conversation. I don’t think the test requires no mention of Male character just that he is not the topic of their conversation.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    It’s not a quality metric. It’s a representation metric, and a pretty bare-minimum one. It has its uses . . . thought not so much when people pull it apart per movie because ~maybe~ that ‘hello [name]‘ in the corridor between love interest and handmaiden with no other speaking lines counted as conversation that wasn’t about men etc. etc. etc.

    Applied simply and literally and across large samples or specific samples (such as this one), the metrics give a fairly good indicator of basic levels of female representation ~across~ the movie industry. That’s its power. Dragging it down per movie and uhming and ahing over individual examples is kinda missing the point IMO.

    (minor edit for clarity)

  • Cad Wallader

    Ah, I had forgotten. In which case, it should still be a straight pass. What does dubious accomplish? The test exists to demonstrate how under-represented women are in films, and that even when there is more than one, they are there as props to the men. Some movies are like that (everyone in Avengers is a prop to Robert Downey Jr), but qualifying “dubious” sort of undermines the whole intent.

  • Anonymous

    Um… the purpose of the Bechdel test is not to deride a movie as sexist, but to point out the extreme lack of representation of in mainstream media. The very fact that “reverse” Bechdel test (two named men talk to each other about not women) is passed in nearly every movie ever released, but only a small number pass the actual Bechdel test shows that there is a HUGE problem with the representation of women in media. I don’t believe there are many (if any) feminists who argue that the Bechdel Test says whether or not something is feminist (or at least not-sexist), so yeah… straw man.

  • Anonymous

    But some of those movies that passed the Bechdel are terrible!

  • Anonymous

    Still not getting it.

  • http://anna.balasi.com/ AnnaB

    Kinda funny (maybe not?) that the Smurfs, a notoriously one-woman society, can beat out a significant number of movies in the Bechdel test. Then again, the point of part 2 was that there was a new lady Smurf around.

    Also worth pointing out that while I still think that the Bechdel test should serve as a guideline and not be the be-all and end-all of rating movies, the numbers do point out an important fact–that what moviegoers want to see in movies is shifting in a positive way, whether viewers know it or not.

  • Anonymous

    The Bechdel test can be dubious if it’s open to interpretation as to whether the characters are talking about a man.

    Like if one female character is asking the other what she saw last night. The other replies ‘them’. ‘them’ refers to the deceased reanimated corpses of her male crewmates who are possessed by genderless aliens.

    Is the conversation about men (her crewmates) or is the conversation about the genderless aliens? These questions are the cause of most dubious ratings. I was thinking about the Bechdel test while watching Planet of the Vampires. Hence the example.

  • The Bechtloff
  • Matias Furia

    Not so much. Many of the movies that pass the Bechdel Test are still atrocious in their portrayal of women, while some of those that don’t are actually pretty good.

  • Laura Truxillo

    So a whole article about how the article writer believes that in real life, men are “active” and women are “passive” which is such complete and utter bullcrap that I don’t know how anyone can forcibly convince themselves of it, because it requires a deliberate cultivated ignorance that is just staggering. “Men talk about ideas and women talk about people” indeed.

    First off, that’s paraphrased from an older quote: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

    A quote that isn’t even about gender at all, although it is commonly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman who was well known for talking about ideas. The Bechdel test itself is about a concept, rather than a particular person. Women discuss ideas as frequently as men do, but men who don’t actually interact with women as peers with an attitude of respect only see the stereotypical “gossip” scenes, and somehow never move beyond a sitcom understanding of women.

    Perfect. Charming. Brilliant.

    And a nice jab at Bechdel’s lack of conventional attractiveness too, because that has SO much bearing on whether or not someone’s work or concepts are valid. (Hey, speaking of small minds discussing people…)

  • Laura Truxillo

    Maybe because Bullock talks to herself enough to count as two characters? It’s a movie that’s completely about a woman, in a scientific and action context, with no romance.

  • Anonymous

    The Bechdel test is only partially useful. A film can have two women talk to each other about something other than a man and still be sexist. For example, the women could be talking only about superficial, frivalous, ‘girly’ things in a way which painted them in a negative light without actually talking about men. Often, the way the women are treated on screen and their actions are better indicators than their actual words.

    (However, I will admit I feel gratified for this chart reminding people that Pacific Rim fails the Bechdel test miserably. I still don’t like that film OR think it was a good example of writing strong female characters, despite what seems to be the widely-held opinion of it.)

  • Amanda Ruddeforth

    The article fails to mention that the two women need to have actual names. Not sure if that changes that particular example or not.

  • Anonymous

    …which is the Bechdel Test’s significant flaw. It does help people to consider the balance of male and female characters in a film though and hopefully make them think a little more about how the women in films are represented.

  • Jon E. Christianson

    I noticed that too. I haven’t seen all of the movies, but it definitely seems like the graphic might be crowbaring some data? Because Thor 2 passed it multiple times.

  • Anonymous

    Case and point: Oz the Great and Powerful?

  • Amanda Ruddeforth

    I want most movies to pass the Bechdel test. Good movies and bad movies. Yes, I want bad movies to pass. Why? Because females make up half of the population and therefore they would realistically be involved in a majority of topics that can be conveyed in a film.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t bother. No one wants to read articles that sustain your fantastic and bigoted view of the world.

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    I could build me a strawman army from all the straw feminism going on in that article and its comments, haha.

  • Erik Miles

    It should be noted that “The Bechdel Test” is not an “end-all-be-all” for the actual quality of a movie. It’s really just a wide brush of sorts to asks, “well does your film/media at least do this?”

    Also, ironically, your metaphorical film actually could pass “The Bechdel Test”
    1.) ” It has to have at least two women in it” = Well, since you don’t go into any detail about “how” she talks to herself (Meaning is she literally talking to herself like another person or something?), then it would count as “two women”, even if they are the same person.
    2.) “Who talk to eachother” = Again, point one (and that’s assuming of course that she’s literally talking to herself like another person)
    3.) “About something other then a man” = Depends entirely on the “Metaphorical” conversation at hand, but I’m just gonna assume for now that your lead is talking about something other then men.

  • Gerald Kirby

    It’s unfortunate that Pacific Rim failed the Bechdel Test. Yes, the female characters never interacted, but Mako Mori was an amazing female character. I’m sure there are a number of films which did pass the test that didn’t have female characters as interesting as her.

  • Travis

    You mean like most episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

  • Travis

    You mean like most episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

  • Travis

    Did they give the same consideration to Cast Away?

  • Travis

    Did they give the same consideration to Cast Away?

  • Travis

    Did they give the same consideration to Cast Away?

  • Travis

    Did they give the same consideration to Cast Away?

  • Travis

    Did they give the same consideration to Cast Away?

  • Joe Informatico

    It’s not the only thing they talk about though. The majority of the sisters’ dialogue concerns their relationship with each other and their responsibilities to their subjects.

  • Lien

    I have said it many times every time the Bechdel test is brought up in here, The bechdel test isn’t about how sexist a movie is or isn’t but how diverse the casting choice is. Mako is an incredible woman, however, when it comes to anyone woman in the film, they are just background characters. That’s the issue, not Mako.
    I know you aren’t saying this, but i got enough of people saying the test is flawed because it doesn’t address the sexist issue or ignoring good characters. The test is about NEITHER of that.

    And a good example about how a film that passes the test but doesn’t necessarily make it exempt of sexism is the film “The help”. It’s a film that mainly focuses on women interacting to each other… in the most stereotypical way. That and each time a black woman gets the spotlight, it’s to talk about white people.

  • Anonymous

    I would say that that’s more about the spirit of the Bedchel test and the point behind it rather than the absolute letter of the rules. The Bedchel test is about how movies tend to be overwhelmingly male-focused, and women are traditionally portrayed as basically props and objects, with no purpose other than how they support the men and the men’s motivations. Helen Hunt’s character in Cast Away was there only to be the wife Tom Hanks longed for. The long portions of the movie with only him were still male-focused. Bullock in Gravity defied the tradition of male-centric action movies. It was still problematic in places, but it largely supports the spirit of the Bedchel test, that women can appear in movies without just being there to support men.

  • kbroxmysox

    Dubious is definitely strange. The Iron Man 3 scene isn’t about Natasha(who isn’t in the movie) but Peeper and Rebecca Hall’s character. Though they bring up a man, they talk is mainly about Hall’s character and what she’d do to get her science and if it’s too late for her to get out. While a man is mentioned, it’s ABOUT Hall’s character, so I think it’s a pass.

  • kbroxmysox

    Well Jane and Darcy discuss science and the Asgardian’s. I think they pass too..

  • kbroxmysox

    Yeah I’d hardly call Thor 2 dubious.

  • kbroxmysox

    Yeah I agree with you. The subject was science and their research. Sure Thor might have been included but if we’re talking SUBJECT, it’s not about a man.

  • Joanna

    The test is really just a check list of the bare minimum expected of female characters in films. If a film fails the test, it can mean that the female characters are merely plot devices rather than real people. This isn’t the bee-all and end-all of checking your female characters but it does make you think about the actual purpose of the female characters written in films.

  • Joanna

    Yup. But this isn’t a rampant trend in films and shows.

  • Joanna

    Lol. Maybe you should, you know, go talk to lots of different women and not take the word of one dude’s experience of life.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, as I recall (pretty dimly) there was this whole chilly atmosphere between them and not much dialogue at all. But that’s asking a lot of my memory.

  • Ian Osmond

    The Bechdel Test isn’t a test of individual movies, it’s a test of movies in the aggregate. And it is a first-order approximation of the question “do women in the film have agency”, which is a question related to sexism, but is not equivalent to sexism.

    That’s all fine. Because what it IS is a first-order approximation to look at groups of movies that is easy and objective. It’s a thing you can actually point to.

  • Ian Osmond

    And they also talk about their relationship with each other, and also about their relationship with the kingdom, and also about Elsa’s powers, and also about other things. It passes in the first scene when they play in the snow in the ballroom. Two women can talk about a man as ONE of the things they talk about and still pass the Bechdel test. It’s only if that’s the ONLY thing they talk about that it doesn’t.

  • Ashe

    This comment has changed my world view on everything

  • Ashe

    Why are men with uninformed opinions still a thing?

  • MewYearMewYou

    One minor correction: In Anchorman 2, there are about four female characters, and two talk to each other about a man and two talk to each other about something other than a man. They just aren’t technically leads in the movie, and don’t get nearly as much screen time as their male counterparts. So, that’s a thing?

  • Mina

    But even Twilight passes sometimes when she talks to Alice, Rosalee, or even Esme about other things.

    And that’s the thing. Even Twilight–a story about a girl whose life revolves around a guy if ever there was one–can pass! So why aren’t more movies passing?

  • Katy

    I totally agree with you (except for the bit about Pacfic Rim – kinda – mainly because I really liked the movie). For instance, the representation of women in Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 (which were labelled as dubious passes) was much better than the representation of women in Oz: The Great and the Powerful. Despite being an imperfect system, the Bechdel Test does provide awareness.

  • locuas

    To be fair, the number of problems that twilight has probably would be less if it DIDN’T pass the test(twilight is o ne of those series that has new levels of suckiness and uncomfortable ideas the more you dig in)

  • Lien

    There’s enough straw arguments in that link to survive the winter here!

  • Lien

    Farewell, Russian woman. You shall be missed… huh what was her name?

  • Karina Burana

    Sasha Kaidonofsky.

  • Lucine

    Possibly because Barb is considered an orangutan? It depends on if it has to be female character or female human character, I guess?

  • Karina Burana

    I’m sorry, when was that meeting where “we all” agreed that the Bechdel test doesn’t show anything useful? I might have been sick that day …
    Also, the Bechdel test works for one specific thing: gender representation. And that’s just one of many things part of a movie.
    It’s like a thermometer.
    It informs you of the presence or absence of one particular symptom, fever. But even if it shows that you don’t have fever, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not sick with other symptoms.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I forget if she’s named verbally but I think she’s named in the credits.

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    While a good chunk of the film is just Tom Hanks’ character, there are multiple characters in the film. There are at least two significant female characters in the film, and quite a few family members at the Christmas party, but I don’t think any women talk to each other about anything other than men.

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    Its not about whether a movie is feminist or not though. Its just to bring attention to the lack of female representation and how rare it is that there are multiple female characters who don’t revolve ENTIRELY around a male character. And its only easy to stick a token badass chick in a movie and treat her well, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it feminist since, again, she’s just the token.

  • http://adornyourhearts.tumblr.com Xomyx

    I wonder if there’s any lists like that about other demographics? Like a list of movies which have more than one person of colour who talk to each other about something other than white people. Or two LGBT characters who talk to each other about anything.

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t a meaningful use of statistics in any way whatsoever. There are lots of movies that passed the Bechdel test that performed very poorly at the box office (and that were terrible, as well). Not only is there no attempt to take any other factors into account, taking the sum of the box office grosses completely misses the point that they’re (purportedly) trying to display. It creates a measure of how common it was for films to pass the Bechdel test, not how well the ones which passed it performed.

    At an absolute minimum, in order to actually answer the question of whether movies that passed the Bechdel test did better (even if you’re answering it poorly) you have to take the average of the box office of the movies that passed and those that failed.

    And some of the movies on the list are wrong. Thor 2 did pass the test, and I don’t remember Man of Steel passing (did Lois and Faora talk? Lois’ conversation with Mrs. Kent was about Superman, so that doesn’t quality.)

  • Haleigh Yonish

    IDK, SOME REALLY STRONG POINTS: “But Feminists, out of a hatred for masculinity, femininity, and humanity in general, insist on applying masculine standards to women, and feminine standards to men.” I mean, isn’t the goal of the Bechdal Test to exterminate humanity? That’s how I, as a feminist, thought it functioned. I’m not here for equality – I have a hatred of humanity!

    (farting noise)

  • Haleigh Yonish

    I would love that!

  • Anonymous

    Many years ago a screenwriter complained that the accountants connected to the film were more respected and could more easily modify the script than he could. Of course the accounting department is imbued with much of the truly effective art in Hollywood.

  • The Gaf

    I dont know- how many Kaiju’s were women? Could have been all of them!!

  • Anonymous

    “dubious” means that there’s some dispute as to whether the conversation is about a man or not. It is used to indicate uncertainty about a “pass”, and not as a separate category. In the Iron Man example, I’d give it a pass, but someone else might not. Reasonable people can disagree, hence, so the pass is “dubious”. It has nothing to do with the overall focus of the film.

  • Anonymous

    It exists because some conversations are open to different (but equally legitimate) interpretations.

  • Mark Matson

    Not only did Thor pass the Bechdel test undubiously, it passed it during a scene when it shouldn’t have passed it, as one of the women was on a date, who was being completely ignored. I noticed that at the time and thought it quite funny.

  • Saraquill

    That reminds me of a question I had about the test. If there’s significant communication between two women that isn’t speech (letters, Morse code, body language) would it still qualify?

  • Mina

    Man of Steel barely passed twice. Lois and Faora VERY briefly talked, and Lois and Jenny VERY briefly talked. It felt to me like the only reason it passed was that they had to have been actively trying to make it pass. To me, that was oddly comforting. I felt like it wasn’t anywhere close to knocking it out of the park on the Bechdel test, but it could have easily been a flat failure, and at least they were trying. (Hopefully they’ll try slightly harder next time.)

  • Emily Neenan

    She’s named as Eir in the credits, goddess of healing. Anyway, as noted below, Jane and Darcy should definitely make this movie a non-dubious pass, they talk about a bunch of things.

  • Brian

    I though she was Alexis and the guy was Sasha. Dang Russian unisex names.

  • Tnuoc

    Why is there a dubious section ? A film passes or not, and it doesn’t seem that hard determine if it does.

  • Anonymous

    Who says movies need to be realistic?

  • Anonymous

    Well, what about stereotypical men talking about stereotypical manly things? The sword cuts both ways; who gets to say which is worse?

    At least numbers of characters of each sex can be more objectively defined.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Not actually the point of the test. It’s not a test of quality for a single film, it’s a way to observe a pattern.

  • Lien

    Surprisingly, it exist! The Racial bechdel test. The test compose of three main objective: Does the film (or TV show) cast more then one black character, do they interact with each other and do they talk about a subject that is not about a white person or about the subject of race?
    That movie i mentioned, the help? It failed spectacularly on that test despite being the subject of integration. And i recall someone complaining to a person doing that test on her blog that the test is impossible to succeed since most films with a black cast are about race issue. I recall the author of the blog just giving a silent stare and saying “That’s the point…”

  • Anonymous

    Frances Ha

  • Anonymous

    I realise that. It’s more suited as a test of representation than of good character writing. The problem is that recently the test has had a lost of publicity as some kind of measure of a films rating by feminists, when in fact pretty much all it does is tell you if women are present and is not an indicator whether it fulfils feminist ideals of positive representation of women on screen.

  • Anonymous

    I know that. I was mostly just saying that although it’s a starting point, the Bechdel test it isn’t a seriously useful indicator of either the quality of the film or it’s positive representation of women. I suppose I was stating the obvious really.

  • Anonymous

    I know that. I was mostly just saying that although it’s a starting point, the Bechdel test it isn’t a seriously useful indicator of either the quality of the film or it’s positive representation of women. I suppose I was stating the obvious really.

  • Anonymous

    The problem with that angle is that, since there is a far greater percentage of male characters on screen, there is room for a greater range of types of male characters to create wider representation. Occasionally there may be a male character who fits the profile your suggesting but due to the poorer representation for women, their tendency to be supporting characters more often than starring roles and the pernicious presence of negative stereotyping of women’s roles on the screen, this is in fact far more common in representation of women on screen than of men.
    Also, the stereotypical male conversations allow them to discuss far broader or ‘intelligent’ topics including sport, politics, science, music, cars etc, alongside the ‘laddish’ and more negative stereotypes of sex, violence etc, while the sterotypical female conversations we are so tired of seeing limit female characters to more frivolous topics such as men, fashion, housework, or ‘bitching.’ which either prevent them from being taken seriously or show their lives to be entirely orientated around those of their male counterparts which is both inaccurate and damaging to the representation of women in general.

  • Anonymous

    Not only is there no attempt to take any other factors into account, taking the sum of the box office grosses completely misses the point that they’re (purportedly) trying to display. It creates a measure of how common it was for films to pass the Bechdel test, not how well the ones which passed it performed.

    That one’s easily rectified, at least. 24 are listed as passing, and 24 are listed as failing. So passing movies averaged 176M, and failing movies averaged 111M.

    (This doesn’t address any of the other caveats you raise.)

  • Anonymous

    Where did the names requirement come from?

    It’s not in Alison Bechdel’s original formulation:

    http://i.imgur.com/j6oVCFN.jpg

  • roro80

    But that’s kind of the point. It’s a very, very lenient requirement that most movies nevertheless fail.

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes the point is not for a movie to be realistic. Sometimes the point is for writers to only write what they know; or alternatively, what they believe will land them in the least trouble. The reality is thanks to the market that sort of pandering is all that’s left.

  • Anonymous

    I dispute the Oz movie having passed.