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A Series of Fallopian Tubes

Swedish Cinemas Are Integrating the Bechdel Test Into Their Rating System


When deciding what movie to go see, moviegoers are used to a rating system providing them with a few basic facts. The level of violence in the film, for example, and whether there’s sex or cursing. Now theaters in Swedish cinemas have added something new to their ratings system: Whether the film passes the Bechdel Test.

A quick intro for those not in the know: The Bechdel Test was created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel as a sort of litmus test of a flim’s gender bias. To pass the test, a film (or TV show, or book, etc.) must: A) Have two female characters (a variation says the characters have to have names), who B) talk to each other, about C) something that’s not a man. If this is your first time hearing about it, congratulations: You will now not be able to unsee how few films pass.

Films that pass the Bechdel Test will be given an A rating by four Swedish cinemas, including Stockholm’s Bio Rio arthouse theater. Ellen Tejle, Bio Rio’s director, notes that “For some people [the ratings system] has been a real eye-opener.”

Though only four cinemas use the new Bechdel Test-inspired rating, the state-funded Swedish Film Institute supports it, and the TV channel Viasat Film says it plans to start including the ratings in its film reviews. So it would hardly be a surprise if the program starts to get more play, especially given Sweden’s history of taking a proactive approach to fighting gender inequality. For example, the country’s Equalisters project has been working to raise the number of female expert commenters appearing on news programs since 2010.

My feelings here are mixed. The Bechdel Test is a great starting point to discuss representation of women in film, but too often it’s treated like the be-all-end-all of determining a film’s value in terms of gender representation. There are films with wonderful, well-developed female characters that don’t pass the test. The Avengers, for example, where Black Widow saves the day multiple times over and comes second fiddle to no man. Would it have been wonderful if The Avengers had passed the Bechdel Test? Absolutely. But sexism in film is far too complicated an issue for any one thing to “crack the code.”

(Though I do like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Sexy Lamp Test: “If you can take out a female character and replace her with a sexy lamp, YOU’RE A F*CKING HACK.”)

Reservations aside, a Bechdel Test rating is a good way to get people thinking critically about the issue of gender bias in film, which is a definite plus. And Tejle for one notes that the rating has nothing to do with a film’s overall quality; “The goal is to see more female stories and perspectives on cinema screens.”

The new rating system has faced some criticism; for example, physicist Tanja Bergkvist, who writes a blog about Sweden’s “gender madness,” suggests that “If they want different kind of movies they should produce some themselves and not just point fingers at other people.”

Ah, yes. The old “If you want [x], just make it yourself!” argument. It completely discounts that there are tons of indie filmmakers, specifically female ones, who do progressive, gender-positive work and then get passed over when the studios overwhelmingly choose their male counterparts to direct their big-budget flicks, but OK. I guess I just didn’t realize how easy it’s been all this time to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to make a studio movie that’ll actually get to cities outside of major markets without having the support of a studio. Silly me.

Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas also notes that “There are far too many films that pass the Bechdel Test that don’t help at all in making society more equal or better, and lots of films that don’t pass the test but are fantastic at those things,” which in my mind is a far more valid point.

What do you think? Is a Bechdel Test rating a good idea, or does the way the test oversimplifies a complex issue mean it’s better left out of movie theaters? If the rating were adopted in your country, would it have any impact on what movies you’d choose to see?

(via: Guardian)

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  • Voodoo Darling

    I dig the thinking behind the Mako Mori Test: The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story.

  • Sanjay Merchant

    As I’ve always seen it, the Bechdel Test is more useful when you’re looking at aggregate numbers over many films, rather than any one specific film. For example, it’s a useful tool to look at how many films pass in 1980 vs 2010. It’s less useful when arguing about whether, I dunno, New Star Trek is better than The Avengers.

    Plus, trying to use it as a “the buck stops here” kind of metric for each film runs the risk of leading filmmakers into tokenism: female characters who sole purpose is to talk about politics or art with the female lead for a minute or two just so the producers can claim “it passes the Bechdel Test!”

  • ASM

    I think the Bechtel test is a good starting point, but shouldn’t be the end all be all for gender equality in the media discussions. It isn’t meant to rate the quality of female characters per se. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice stars 3 men, yet the main female character is a great character that is independent and overcomes fear without the help of any of the men. She could easily have been a manic pixie dream girl, but instead she has her own story.

  • http://pontoonification.blogspot.com/ AverageDrafter

    Does Mako Mori even pass that test?

  • Jonas

    classic hollywood formula requires every side character to in a way support the protagonist’s arc… so I think that’s rather unreliable

  • Voodoo Darling

    Yes. She’s a well-written woman who carries the film and has terrific character development. Her dream of becoming a Jaeger pilot, as a way of conquering her fears after a terrifying childhood encounter, is one of the larger themes (and triumphs) of the movie.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yes. Her quest to avenge her family by becoming a Jaeger pilot. Raleigh and Stacker are supporting characters in it, but the narrative arc is all her own.

  • http://Culture11.com Joe Carter

    “Have two female characters. . .”

    What does it say about the test that ‘Alien’ qualifies but ‘Gravity’ doesn’t?

  • Anonymous

    You basically took the words out of my mouth. I’ve always seen the value of the Bechdel test in looking at wide patterns. The fact that so few movies pass it shows us there’s something wrong with the way we write movies. Applied to a single film, it’s almost meaningless though.

  • Anonymous

    Gravity passes Mako Mori, though (see below).

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    It establishes what we already know, which is that the Bechdel Test is far from perfect. Nonetheless, the progressive intent of the test remains something worth celebrating. :)

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    You lost me at “classic hollywood formula requires” ;) If it passes the MMT, that would imply that it doesn’t follow a tired formula and might be worth watching.

  • Anonymous

    stupid, just stupid

  • http://pontoonification.blogspot.com/ AverageDrafter

    Isn’t it all in support of Raleigh’s arc though? It’s all about getting him a drift compatible co-pilot to replace his brother.

    That and the annoying paternalism she is so willing to accept in the movie (Stacker obviously, but also allowing Raleigh to “Defend her Honor” when she’s more than capable of doing so herself) diminishes her character to the point I wouldn’t use her as a measuring stick for anything.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is a terrible idea. Ratings systems for art, even when they have good intentions, almost always limit natural creative expression in the long run. I think the Bechdel Test is helpful as a larger statistical snapshot of the problems with gender representation in media, but I worry that making the issue into a ratings system actually cheapens the role of female characters and oversimplifies the complexities that their stories should reflect. I was hoping we’d one day see a future in which movies just represented women well without a second thought, just like the case currently stands with men. I know we have a long way to go, but I think a tokenizing stamp of approval means we may never reach that point. Plus it gives fuel to the fire for people who misunderstand calls for equal representation as “political correctness.”

  • Hawkes006

    You know, I’m just now realizing how revenge based that movie was if you include the comic and book narratives. Stacker avenging his sister, Raleigh avenging his brother, hell even Tendo was avenging his grandfather…

  • Anonymous

    The Bechdel Test worked amazingly well in a comic strip but I’m not sure of its use outside of it. Sure, we can talk between us and say “it’s a starting point but has its flaws” but once it’s outside and is given an official status, what are the odds that this distinction won’t get lost? It might do more harm than good in the end.

  • Guest

    I would argue that no, she doesn’t exist purely to support Raleigh’s arc. They exist to serve each other. Her goal of avenging her family requires a partner. Raleigh’s conquest of grief / guilt requires a partner. The film shows how two scarred people came together and bonded to overcome their own internal struggles.

    I’d also argue against the paternalism. She says, “It’s not obedience, it’s respect.” She views him as an honored teacher. And Raleigh defending her honor only shows how much he supported her equality and ability, not his lack of confidence that she couldn’t defend herself. Mako is reserved and holds her anger in check, which is why she doesn’t feel the need to lay the smack down. She clearly feels above that. Raleigh flies off the handle at every chance, it’s just his nature.

  • Voodoo Darling

    I’d say no, she doesn’t exist purely to support Raleigh’s arc. They exist to serve each other. Her goal of avenging her family requires a partner. Raleigh’s conquest of grief / guilt requires a partner. The film shows how two scarred people came together and bonded to overcome their own internal struggles.

    I’d also argue against the paternalism. She says, “It’s not obedience, it’s respect.” She views him as an honored teacher. And Raleigh defending her honor only shows how much he supported her equality and ability, not his lack of confidence that she couldn’t defend herself. Mako is reserved and holds her anger in check, which is why she doesn’t feel the need to lay the smack down. She clearly feels above that. Raleigh flies off the handle at every chance, it’s just his nature.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    “Isn’t it all in support of Raleigh’s arc though? It’s all about getting him a drift compatible co-pilot to replace his brother.”

    By that standard you could say that Raleigh’s arc is just in support of Stacker’s arc, since Stacker’s arc is saving the Earth. All of them are interconnected, but Mako’s quest to become a Jaeger pilot is by and for herself.

    We see Mako’s character quite differently. She wasn’t just obeying Stacker because “Dad said no!” It’s explicitly stated that she made the conscious choice to respect his wishes. It’s maybe not the most guns a’blazing, badass, warrior princess choice she could’ve made, but it doesn’t make her any less of a well-developed character. As we’ve said here on the site tons of times, there’s no one way to be a strong (read: well-written) female character.

  • http://thescienceofobsession.tumblr.com/ R.O.U.S.

    Even having people consider the Bechdel Test is a step in the right direction. I was blown away when I first heard about it and considered how many films fail – it was a thing I’d never even thought about. Ingrained patriarchy and all that. It’s a good conversation.

  • Emily Neenan

    This is a great idea, but I think some kind of star rating system would work better than the Bechdel’s yes/no. If it was a 5 star system, where you get a star for including (*) a woman who significantly contributes to the plot, (*) two women who talk to each other about something other than a man, (*) a woman whose main drive is not a relationship with a man, (*) women holding positions of power or important jobs, (*) women make up the same proportion of roles in the film as they do in real life. So, for example, Pacific Rim gets 3 stars (Mako significantly contributes to the plot, and her drive is her drive to avenge her family and make Pentecost proud, and you see women holding important jobs including Mako, but she’s the only main character who’s female and the world seems to mostly be made of men).

  • Samuel

    I agree, it’s a good start, but, for example Pacific Rim doesn’t pass the test, but Dredd (2012) does, both are good, but in some ways I’d argue Mako was a stronger character (at least had more dialogue) than Anderson.

  • Mariah Huehner

    I think the only problem with using the Bechdel Test as a means of criticism is when it gets applied as a measure of quality, rather than representation. Films pass the test that do absolutely nothing positive for the representation of women in film/pop culture, other than being about female characters. I always err on the side of quality vs. quantity, because how characters are portrayed matters as much as how many are present. A film can “fail” the test while actually portraying progressive, human, amazing female character/s because there aren’t more than one or they don’t discuss something more than dudes (which can be legit depending on the subject/genre of the film).

    That said, the fact is that the majority of movies are about men from a male pov with predominately male characters. So the numbers do matter and it is relevant to point out when something does and does not pass the test. It’s just not a measure of the quality of the film or even the characters. Hence why the Mako Mori test is getting a lot of traction, it’s a little more nuanced and allows for other standards to exist.

    The trick is using the awareness of the Bechdel Test and why it matters and translating it to getting more filmmakers to apply it to their work in a conscious, constructive manner. Some already are, like say Paul Fieg with Bridesmaids and The Heat. Both are really interesting examples of using pre-established genre’s, one which is very heavily female (romantic comedy) and the other which is very male centric (buddy cop) and showing how you can do them without making flat characters and/or subverting the tropes.

  • Voodoo Darling

    I like this but “holding positions of power or important jobs” is tricky. I mean, as a low-level cubicle dweller in an office environment I would fail. I think significantly contributing to a plot IS a position of power.

  • Samuel

    See, I never got that Raleigh’s arc was about revenge, what I took from it was that Raleigh was still dealing with grief and the loss of his brother, and his arc was about being able to forgive himself and move on. He was constantly preaching to Mako about it not being about revenge, and that her quest for vengeance was dangerous to the drift. I thought it was actually kind cool that Raleigh was the voice of reason in that respect, while Mako helped him to move on from his brother, he cautioned her that vengeance was not the be all, end all, and a dangerous emotion at that.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    I love Dredd. I always say this. If Pacific Rim or Dredd had featured their female characters in their trailers, I am convinced the movies would have performed far better than they did. Judge Anderson and Mako Mori are two awesome characters most people don’t even know exist.

  • Jonas

    absolutely right! but still it is (and should be) possible to make gender conscious movies under the hollywood system

  • Anonymous

    Agree! A lot of really important and significant characters in fiction come from lowly places.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    Agreed. I mean to imply that the Hollywood’s system needs to diversify. They are stuck in this belief that there are hard rules that can’t be overcome like “men only watch men” and as a result, don’t recognize the hard evidence to the contrary. Pacific Rim was doing something different with Mako and the current Hollywood “system” caused them to overlook her, which is why we don’t see any mention of her in the trailers; they didn’t know what to do with her because they’re inhibited by their own senseless and tired rules.

  • Hawkes006

    Good point. So the movie is less revenge based and more about how people deal with loss I guess

  • Voodoo Darling

    I think we need a test to help change the conversation and I do think it’s important to apply the test to individual movies because it generates critical thinking. It helps us ask questions. It’s not important whether or not it passes, it’s about examining what we’re watching, paying for and supporting.

    The Bechdel Test has always disagreed with me because it actually doesn’t show how limited women’s roles in movies are. A movie could have ten named women talking to each other about shoes but if none of them have real character development, backstories, motivations, or story arcs that lead the film along it’s absolutely pointless. They become, as someone else mentioned, token characters.

  • penamesolen

    I think, as long as the reviewers kept it realistic (like, you should not expect a movie like Shawshank Redemption to pass the text unless it was about race), including the Bechdel test is a good way to get reviewers more concerned about treatment of women in film. At first they will have to think “do these women talk?”, but then it becomes “why did these women not talk about something else?” to “why is there only one woman who speaks?”, and then people become more conscious about it. Like how I think paternal leave must be obligatory for five-ten years, to REALLY hit it in with people that men being at home and not at work is not UNMANLY!!!!! and make people appreciate the work women have done for so long.

    If a movie they review COULD have two women speaking about something else than a man but did not, it should be noted. The Bechdel Test also works as a way to show people that hey, there are usually only one or two women here, why aren’t there more? And it also makes people aware of how man-filled movies are, and if that has something to do with the grade it gets in the review, they might realize that maybe more people will watch if there are more women in them, etc.

    So I support a wise use of the Bechdel Test in reviews as a starting point. When the movie is unrealistically filled with men or only have the “sexy lamp” ladies that never talk to each other about anything than the guys, they can use this. But if the movie’s setting makes it practically impossible to have two women talking, then they should give it a rest. So basically use common sense. :)

  • John W

    It can’t hurt. I’m sure directors/writers will employ it or ignore it as they wish but at least it gets the idea out there to create female characters that are as well thought out as their male counterparts.

  • Anonymous

    More movies could use sexy lamps. The only ones I can think of are “A Christmas Story” and “Beauty & the Beast.” I’m fed up with sexy humans in movies.

  • Laszlo

    I think trying to quantify this kind of stuff with one number is a pretty bad idea. It’s a more complicated problem, even if you looked at multiple requirements, there will always be elements that are subjective, or something can contain seemingly sexist elements that have more to them if you pay attention, stuff like that.

  • Laszlo

    I think trying to quantify this kind of stuff with one number is a pretty bad idea. It’s a more complicated problem, even if you looked at multiple requirements, there will always be elements that are subjective, or something can contain seemingly sexist elements that have more to them if you pay attention, stuff like that.

  • Annie F

    I don’t understand how this test works. If the Avengers doesn’t pass but Last House on the Left does, what am i meant to get from that? That the avengers was worse at representing woman? Honestly,with these kinds of tests it seems like they are only considered valid because of the amount of tumblr reblogs they got, as if repetition makes it true or something. It looks like a kind of “i’m right because i got 150 upvotes on reddit” type of reasoning.

  • Lien

    What you should get from that isn’t that the avenger is a bad film, but that it could of been better in terms of representing women in films.
    No where does it say that the women in avengers are single dimensional caricatures, but it does show there is some sort of lack of diversity in the film.

    …and what ya got with tumblr? Heck what does tumblr got to do with the Bechtel test? The test existed since the early 80′s!

  • Lien

    But then why not have both? Why not have a film that have an important character to the plot and another character in position of power? Doesn’t have to be put together. Make them interact with each other then BAM 5 stars, pretty easy.
    Don’t forget, the test isn’t about one character, it’s about the film in general.

  • Lien

    …in a comic strip? When did anyone use it in a comic strip before? The test was created for films first if i recall correctly.

  • Lien

    Well not that i am disagreeing with you, the Bechdel test has always been presented as an example of lack of diversity first before a failure of female character presentation second. It does not prove that a film is good or that a film needs to be rewritten, just more criticism to the casting choice, if anything. Sidenote here, it’ll be a better world if crappy film directors start casting more female actresses in their film. Not a Good world, but better nonetheless.

    Back on point, take Anita’s take on the test for example. Moon is one of her favorite film but she doesn’t hate it for failing the test. In fact she recommends it to everyone. While the film “the help” pass the test with flying colors but is filled with one dimensional female characters and address more issues the film is dismissing (like the African-american version of the test). I’ve never heard anyone say that once a film pass the test, it’s green light for women rights except from those who criticize the test in general.

  • Annie F

    I brought up tumblr because that is where i see this used the most. Even though people are willing to admit its flawed they would rather continue using it than come up with something else, i don’t understand that, so i assume its continued use on tumblr is due to the amount of reblogs people gain from using it.

  • Lien

    But the test has never, ever been used as an approval of woman representation (except by the people who criticism the test itself and harbor hatred of women issues in general). Everyone who used that test either in individual films or in a film age era has never used it as excuse that the film lacks good characters. It is a test to show the level of diversity in the casting choices. Even if the film is filled with token female characters, the very idea that the film shows diversity proves to the audience that a female person can be more then one individual. Think of the test as the “counter smurfette” trope. Take Anita’s take on the help, for example. It passes the test with flying colors! And yet, like she points it out, the film is filled with one dimensional female characters and addresses more representation issues (like the African-american version of the test).

    Sure. You can have films with more wonderful female characters like Mako or judge Anderson but guess what, since they did not pass the Bechdel test, they are their own exception in their own film. Ask a boy who he wants to be in Pacific rim, he’ll say either Reigher, Herc, Pentecost, Newton, herman or even hanibal (if you like to be that one jerk, be my guess). All of them, by the way, talk to at least one of each others of their gender. For the girls? They only got Mako and that Russian girl with no English lines whatsoever cept laughing after a snarky remark. Let’s say you are that one girl who doesn’t like Mako ( And how could you! *gasp!* D: ), you won’t have lots of choices on who else in the film you should get inspired from. There is only Mako, you only have Mako, you can only be Mako. For boys it’s a rich cast of characters with different personalities, for girls it’s Mako, Mako, Mako, Mako and rule 63 of TF2′s Heavy. And that’s a bummer cause if the film made a tiny little more effort, then the film could of been close to perfect instead of just being great. Maybe make one of the many token female engineer in the bay room actually talk to Mako and is given a name, perhaps we could show to people there is more then just Mako in the film.

    Good women character writing and women diversity in a film are two different issues in a film. Not interconnected and not mutually exclusive to woman representation issues in film.
    Therefore, Mako test =/= Bechdel test and yet Both tests NEEDS to pass.

  • Anonymous

    I prefer the Bechamel Test. If there are two female characters and all they do is talk about men, it means your film is bland and cheesy.

  • Lien

    I am not that big on tumblr (cept for some repost here on mary sue) but i can assure you, this test has been widely used by film critics since the mid-80′s. Some even used the test without even knowing its name or its existence before, they were just part of the wave that got enough of only seeing one woman in the entire film that was then named after Bechdel.

  • Lien

    HA!

  • Voodoo Darling

    Because holding an important job doesn’t equal well-written, fully rounded female characters. Example: Erin Brockovich. She was an unemployed single mother and her struggle fueled the story and served as the foundation of the film. Or Thelma and Louise. Or Steel Magnolias. Power comes from many places, not just form of employment.

  • TokenOfficeGoth

    Not a fan of this idea, if only because there are TONS of crappy, anti-feminist movies that pass the test and telling consumers “hey it passes, it’s feminist” is really, REALLY misleading.

    Let it never be forgotten: Twilight passed. THE big box office spousal-abuse-fest that is Twilight passed.

  • Voodoo Darling

    I have never read where the Bechdel Test was used as a measuring stick of quantity of women. Because if it was, it would simply be one question, quantity. Instead it asks if women talk to each other, have full names and discuss other topics besides men. Therefore, it’s reasonable to deduce that the test is used to gauge female characterization in a film.

  • Anonymous

    The comic strip is on top of the article, right above where it says it was created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, lol.

  • Lien

    Nor did i say that every female characters needs to be grade A writing materials. I mean why not have an incredible written female character AND a female character of power? Why always make a film woman struggling against a male dominated environment? And i am not saying we should change Erin Brockovich and Thelma and Loise main plot for that sake(both based on trues stories by the way), i am saying why not have some female imperial generals in star wars?

  • Lien

    …so someone made a movie… of the bechdel test…? I’m confused.

  • Lien

    But it’s not about that. Like it says in the comic up there, it’s more about how there isn’t a lot of choices for women to root for. And when there IS a woman in the film, it barely passes as a character then a plot device or a causation for the male characters. Even IF the latter is proven wrong, the first and main issue still stands. We don’t have choices!

    It’s like i said up there, people would rather be inspired by named interacted characters then just the token background woman. If i don’t want to be the nameless female engineers in the background and if i don’t want to be mako… then who can i be? The boys got more choices then the girls, it’s not fair!
    We got a case of the smurfette syndrome here, and that’s pretty much what the test helps you find that out. Give me TWO makos already!

  • Sanjay Merchant

    Very true. Showgirls (1995) is the example I always think of when the subject of Bechdel pass != feminist-friendly comes up. I haven’t even seen it, but just the things I’ve heard or pieced together from the ads suggest that it’s effectively porn in all but name, but it does have the eponymous showgirls fighting over their “careers”, and therefore passes.

    And, as the article itself points out, Black Widow is pretty kickass despite being in a Bechdel-fail movie. And if I sat and thought, I could think of plenty of examples of excellent female characters in other Bechdel-fail films. For example, does Doubt fail the Bechdel test? Because, while there are plenty of all-female-character scenes, they’re almost constantly talking about Father Flynn. Or Million Dollar Baby. Or any number of others.

  • Mina

    I think it could be interesting given that what the Bechdel test is really good for is pointing out trends. This would make it easy to spot immediately if very few films currently playing passed, if films that didn’t pass were the top earners many weeks in a row, if most films nominated for awards didn’t pass, that kind of thing. You wouldn’t have to see all the movies to know. You’d have the information right there from the start. I think that’s really valuable, not necessarily for choosing which movies to go see, but just for making it very plain what the general trend of movies is at any given time.

  • Mina

    No, it’s not useful for judging whether a single film is a “good” film. I don’t think any of my favorite films pass, for instance, and none of them portray women as lesser people. What the test is good for is showing what the overall state of films as a whole is. The test should be fairly easy for a lot of films to pass, provided they don’t deal with a story that necessitates a mainly male cast (like a film about World War I soldiers or something). And yet, often times, most of the movies that are out at a given time fail the test for no good reason. And that suggests that on the whole, films are not telling women’s stories nearly as often as they tell men’s.

  • Mina

    I like the idea, but I think it could be tricky to apply. A couple of those things could get rather subjective. The nice thing about the Bechdel test is how objective it is. Either two women talked to each other about non-man things or they didn’t. There’s no way to argue with it. Something like “a woman significantly contributes to the plot” would work for a lot of things, but I think you’re going to always have people arguing whether a woman did or did not SIGNIFICANTLY contribute, because everyone’s idea of what counts as significant is different.

  • Mandy

    Seriously? There is actually a moment where Bella talks about something other than Edward?! Or is is secondary characters? *never saw the movies never read past book 1 but don’t care about spoilers*

  • Anonymous

    “I think some kind of star rating system would work better than the Bechdel’s yes/no. If it was a 5 star system, where you get a star for including (*) a woman who —”

    I like your idea.

    I would perhaps also have the system deduct stars for (*) very stereotypical female characters and (*) gratuitously sexualized characters.

    The next step should be to set up a web site that rates a significant number of movies according to this test, and perhaps also the same system applied to race/ethnitcity. That could become a place to go if one wanted to check how films rate along these lines.

    Then one could set up an award system, handing out positive awards to films that excel, and negative awards to films that score very badly. It could be interesting to see what directors/writers/actors/producers/studios consistently scored high or low on these criteria.

  • Anonymous

    “I think some kind of star rating system would work better than the Bechdel’s yes/no. If it was a 5 star system, where you get a star for including (*) a woman who —”

    I like your idea.

    I would perhaps also have the system deduct stars for (*) very stereotypical female characters and (*) gratuitously sexualized characters.

    The next step should be to set up a web site that rates a significant number of movies according to this test, and perhaps also the same system applied to race/ethnitcity. That could become a place to go if one wanted to check how films rate along these lines.

    Then one could set up an award system, handing out positive awards to films that excel, and negative awards to films that score very badly. It could be interesting to see what directors/writers/actors/producers/studios consistently scored high or low on these criteria.

  • Laszlo

    The problem with this is the same as with the Bechdel test, that it ignores everything else about the movie. What if it has a woman in power and it’s treated like a joke? Or maybe a movie doesn’t have any characters of power at all, and it’s not supposed to have them, and somehow according to this test that automatically makes it less feminist than the former.

  • Veronica

    I think they should change the third rule from A)talk about something than a man to B) talk about something than a man in a romantic contest.
    If we have a rom-com about women finding true love, a thriller about two female assassin targeting a male Senator, and a court drama about two mothers fighting for custody of a boy-child….we have in three cases the same result : women talking about man, but for very different motives.

  • Anonymous

    No, dammit, no. The Bedchel test is not and was never meant to ascribe any sort of real value to a film. The point of Bedchel is that it’s a ridiculously low bar that most movies cannot reach. Including a film’s Bedchel rating is, essentially, meaningless, passing Bedchel does not make a movie inherently Feminist or promoting of any sort of equality.

  • Anonymous

    Bella and Alice talk about things that aren’t Edward.

  • Emily Neenan

    Yes, this would be awesome!

  • Mina

    Bella and Rosalie have too.

  • Lien

    And once more, i have pointed it out like five time here, the bechdel test DOES NOT show how feminist or not feminist a film is, it is a criticism to the casting choice, to have more people to get immerse, to get involve with. In one word, diversity. I keep using that term but this is an anti-smurfette syndrome test. Not a strong woman character test.

    Using the star wars as an example again, imagine Grand Moff Tarkin is played by a woman actress during the Alderaan scene. Nothing is loss, nothing is changed in the plot or narrative. And yet, in the point of view of women, it can show that in the world of star wars, evil exist for both gender, you not only got princess Lea to get your inspiration but also huh… Misses Tarkin to root against. And having them converse between each other will also show the conflict of gender-hood between the two, to show that not every woman are princess Lea and that some are actually enemies to the side of good.
    And notice there is no need to change any script, or make any effort to make a greatly written character, you just need to change ONE gender to represent this added narrative. There is no need to make token females for this, but even if there were, it would still be a step forward then none at all.

  • TokenOfficeGoth

    I never saw it either, but according to the Bechdel Test website…

  • WorthMoreThanMost

    I like this, actually. I would only add the option to give a movie a fair n/a. For instance: Das Boot. It wouldn’t merit any stars, but historically, it couldn’t. So rather than it getting ZERO STARS (which would make it look negative); it would get a pass due to context.

    Also, I would have internal n/a’s for each star. For instance, 9 to 5 – there aren’t women in power – but that is the precise point (or would that get a star, since that’s what it’s pointing out?).

    Anyway, I think this is a good idea!

  • Anonymous

    LMAO!