How many people know the Bechdel test's original source?

Voulan

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I first learnt about the test in a Cinema Studies course at Uni in my first year. It wasn't presented to us as an end-all indication of what films were good or bad (most films feature one prominent female character that gets general approval but fails because they're the only one), but certainly the films that I saw that passed were better because of it. Most of the time films fail simply because they lack female characters rather than an indication of sexism. Which boils down to the old argument that we need more representative women in all kinds of media, including games.

If anything, the test serves as a good indicator for diversity. I've heard it being applied to different ethnicities as well.
 

Leemaster777

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Yeah, I know where it comes from, but like has been already stated, only because of Moviebob. Otherwise, I'd have still been in the dark.
 

Eamar

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I knew where it came from (and not because of MovieBob), and I knew before clicking on this thread that people would still be misinterpreting its purpose. Here goes, one more time:

The Bechdel test is not a test for sexism, it is a test for female representation in media. Passing the test does not automatically make a movie "female friendly" or feminist, failing does not automatically make it sexist.

Now can we PLEASE all try to remember this and not launch irrelevant attacks every time someone so much as mentions it?
 

Amir Kondori

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People like simple things like the Bechdel test, it is easy to understand and easy to apply. It may not be a good measure of how sexist or not a given movie is, but hey, that is complicated and requires thought, God forbid anyone should have to do that.
 

Knight Captain Kerr

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Nine. Nine people know the original source.

Although the origin doesn't matter that much. And it would be ridiculous to say a piece of media that doesn't pass this test is sexist. I'm sure some people do but I doubt it is many. It more shows the weird lack of female characters in media taken as a whole. Same is true of LGTB people and non-whites, it isn't that this story doesn't have them so it is bad and has more to do with media as a whole not really having them.

Also the Bechdel test can just be an interesting thing to do, look at your media library and see how many pass.
 

Thaluikhain

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Eamar said:
I knew where it came from (and not because of MovieBob), and I knew before clicking on this thread that people would still be misinterpreting its purpose. Here goes, one more time:

The Bechdel test is not a test for sexism, it is a test for female representation in media. Passing the test does not automatically make a movie "female friendly" or feminist, failing does not automatically make it sexist.

Now can we PLEASE all try to remember this and not launch irrelevant attacks every time someone so much as mentions it?
This.

I'd also add "A gender swapped version of the test would bring back very different results" to that though.
 

Something Amyss

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hazabaza1 said:
It was this comic strip:


Not an official report. Not a scientific thing. Just a funny comic that people seem to think is law.

It's a decent thing to apply but some people do take things a little bit too seriously.
And the ceator credited it to a friend, so that's the source, actually.

I'm going to point out that a joke doesn't negate something from having a point, however. George Carlin was equal parts funny and poignant. Calvin and Hobbes was funny and brilliant. The comic made a statement that resonated with people: she hadn't watched a movie since Alien, at that point several years old, based on these criteria. It made people think.

This comic does bring up a good point about representation of women, which is why the test took off. What it does not do is offer a valid metric for sexism.
 

Something Amyss

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thaluikhain said:
I'd also add "A gender swapped version of the test would bring back very different results" to that though.
Well, I can't name the last movie I saw where there were two men who talked to each other about something other than a girl!

Though I'm cheating and using a technicality that I can't remember the last movie I've watched.

But yeah, this is kind of an important point.
 

Willstown

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It's a very simple, very high level test for any movie or game that even the layman can apply. The fact it's so simple to apply makes it so interesting and appealing.

It's a talking point about representation of women in the media. A discussion starter, when you look at a lot of your favorite/generally successful movies as a whole it makes you think. If the test didn't hit the mark so well it wouldn't be discussed as much.

There are many exceptions as with any general rule. Gravity and Moon being 2 films I can think of that given the cast size couldn't pass the test, doesn't mean this simple thought isn't worthy of looking at. Passing/failing the test doesn't mean that much on it's own, but does make you think.

For me it's another one one of those lazy writing in movie and TV things, like why very few people have glasses in a film/series unless it's a plot point or a character being either non-white, or a woman without it being an important plot point either.
 

Something Amyss

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The_Kodu said:
Pacific Rim failed it with a male and a female protagonist
Women, as in more than one. Not woman, as in a single woman.

nomotog said:
It's origins don't determine it's worth as a test.
No, but it's still interesting to know if people understand it.

the intent and context also indicate why it shouldn't be (and isn't) a test for sexism.

Eamar said:
Now can we PLEASE all try to remember this and not launch irrelevant attacks every time someone so much as mentions it?
No, because an easy attack will always be an easy attack. This is why Ray Comfort and Ken Ham are still touting pointts they had debunked to their faces some twenty years ago.

Also, people don't like it so it will always be attacked. Whether they understand it or not.

Hell, people attacked Anita Sarkeesian for using it to call movies sexist in a video where she described the test and explicitly stated it was not a metric for sexism.

Amir Kondori said:
People like simple things like the Bechdel test, it is easy to understand and easy to apply. It may not be a good measure of how sexist or not a given movie is, but hey, that is complicated and requires thought, God forbid anyone should have to do that.
At the same time, the Bechdel test is a poor test for sexism, it's still a decent test for representation of women in media, so its actual use is quite valid AND simple. Which is a good marker.
 

Darkbladex96

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Johnny Novgorod said:
I knew about the comic strip, never took the idea of the "test" very seriously.

Lilani said:
Even though Sex and the City may pass nobody seems to be heralding it as a triumph for women in film, and even though the Avengers doesn't pass I don't think that changes anything about how awesome the Black Widow, Pepper Potts, and that lady who works with Nick Fury are.
True but then Black Widow, a superheroine equal to all the other super bros, STILL doesn't have her own movie (while everybode else has had origin movies, sequels, trilogies and/or remakes). Six years since Iron Man and poor BW is still playing second banana in boy movies. Pepper Potts kicks ass thanks to some Eleven Hour Super Power in IM3 but she's otherwise stuck as Tony's love interest. And you don't even know the name of "that lady who works with Nick Fury" :p So no I don't think Marvel has been entirely fair (i.e. not at all) to its female characters.
But it's not because any of them are women though, it's because their roles are small compared to the icons that the movie focuses on. Hawkeye doesn't have a movie, neither does Robin, or Nick Fury. Why would they? But on the other hand Catwoman has a movie, and Wonder Woman may make a Cameo in the next DC movie before her rumored origin film. It has a lot to do with the fact that many of these superheroes work with a team and their origins won't make money. So just put them with the team that way they can go straight to being interesting characters.

Pepper Pots always kicked ass. Sudden super power or not. She basically runs Stark Industries. If Tony dumped her the only way to get her out of Iron Man movies would be to kill her off, Her role isn't as big as Tony's cause she isn't Iron Man.
 

Flatfrog

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Lilani said:
Even though Sex and the City may pass nobody seems to be heralding it as a triumph for women in film
Are you kidding? Sex and the City (as a franchise - I haven't seen the movies) was a huge deal for modern feminism. A series focusing entirely on women, all of whom enjoy sex and discuss it from a female perspective, was massively ground-breaking and daring. Yes, of course, the fundamental relationship between Carrie and Big was, on the surface, a bit of a standard 'girls prefer bad guys' trope, and the obsession with fashion and wealth was a bit shallow, but beyond that were a lot of important ideas and on the whole I think it wears its feminist credentials pretty well.

Anyway, as others have said clearly, the Bechdel test says nothing about female representation or the strength of female characters in any individual movie and it's misusing it to apply it in that way; its only value is as a gauge of female representation in movies in general. The fact that it's hard to think of many good movies that pass it, and it's almost impossible to think of movies that *don't* pass the male equivalent, is pretty damning, whatever the virtues of the individual movies.
 

ForumSafari

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Johnny Novgorod said:
True but then Black Widow, a superheroine equal to all the other super bros, STILL doesn't have her own movie (while everybode else has had origin movies, sequels, trilogies and/or remakes).
That's because she's a boring, weak, squishy human being. Captain America is probably the least powerful hero that gets a film and he's still able to beat up buildings of mooks. Black Widow in a film would be like Hawkeye in a film; they both need so much backup that a film showing them in action would just reinforce how sub-par they are compared to the rest of the superfriends.

OT: The Bechdel test is originally from a web comic. Very much like Godwin's law it's been unofficially extended into social commentary when it was originally a statement about female characters. It doesn't tell you whether a film is good, bad, sexist or anything, it's a pithy observation and shouldn't be used to judge films. it's the same with Godwin, the observation was originally about the likelihood of the nazis being mentioned reaching near certainty the longer a forum thread went on, it's an observation of the pivotal role nazis play in our modern phraseology coupled with the million monkey Shakespeare observation that in a random stream of characters you'll eventually see everything. it has since been altered to mean that the argument is lost or that the conversation is over, presumably by a cabal of fuckwits, but the original never meant anything like that.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Darkbladex96 said:
Catwoman has a movie
It's crap.

and Wonder Woman may make a Cameo in the next DC movie before her rumored origin film.
Why is it any consolation that the most famous, most iconic female superhero "may" make a cameo in the sequel to a reboot of a male-driven franchise?

It has a lot to do with the fact that many of these superheroes work with a team and their origins won't make money. So just put them with the team that way they can go straight to being interesting characters.
Wonder Woman has a very distinct origin story set in the mythical island of Themyscira, about as valid a setting as Asgard.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Themyscira_(DC_Comics)

Pepper Pots always kicked ass. Sudden super power or not. She basically runs Stark Industries.
Ah yes, the kickass powers of business administration. I like Pepper a lot though, and kudos for nailing 2 of the 3 bad guys in the movies.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Kwil said:
nomotog said:
That said. I think it would be hard for a movie to prominently feature women and then not pass the test.
Speed
Star Wars
any Raiders of the Lost Ark Film
Gravity

Do those not count as movies that prominently feature women?
No, those movies feature a SINGULAR woman, not WOMEN. Bullock in Speed and Gravity, Fisher in Star Wars, Karen Allen in Raiders. None of their characters talk to other women, with the exception maybe of Bullock in Speed.
 

Something Amyss

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Kwil said:
nomotog said:
That said. I think it would be hard for a movie to prominently feature women and then not pass the test.
Speed
Star Wars
any Raiders of the Lost Ark Film
Gravity

Do those not count as movies that prominently feature women?

Okay. How about Tomb Raider?

That's the problem. You *would* think it should be hard for a movie to prominently feature women and then not pass the test. That makes sense. That's also not the reality.
All of those examples feature A woman. Well, maybe not Tomb Raider. I should look that up.

...The second actress I see on the list is "Young Lara," and she's pretty far down the list. Where are the prominent women? Neither Tomb Raider movie has a second named character, so it's hard to imagine anyone else of prominence.

Similarly, Star Wars has only one major woman and in fact a dearth of women in general. Cracked had fun with that.


Raiders had one major woman, and...Were there any other women in it? Drawing a blank.

Gravity....I thought it did pass the Bechdel Test. The are two women who have a conversation. The only grounds on which it fails on bechdeltest.com is the added claim of a named woman. Regardless, it wouldn't pass the "prominent" thing people are talking about.

Speed also passes (and even according to bechdeltest.com), but is the second woman prominent?
 

nomotog_v1legacy

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Johnny Novgorod said:
Kwil said:
nomotog said:
That said. I think it would be hard for a movie to prominently feature women and then not pass the test.
Speed
Star Wars
any Raiders of the Lost Ark Film
Gravity

Do those not count as movies that prominently feature women?
No, those movies feature a SINGULAR woman, not WOMEN. Bullock in Speed and Gravity, Fisher in Star Wars, Karen Allen in Raiders. None of their characters talk to other women, with the exception maybe of Bullock in Speed.
Basically that. When I said prominently feature women i was imagining a movie that had women filling a good number of the roles, something like at least 30%-40% of them. Not movies that just have one woman who dose stuff. (I do know speed has two women.)

Though if your going to list movies at me expecting me to know all of them your going to be disappointed.
 

Amir Kondori

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Zachary Amaranth said:
Amir Kondori said:
People like simple things like the Bechdel test, it is easy to understand and easy to apply. It may not be a good measure of how sexist or not a given movie is, but hey, that is complicated and requires thought, God forbid anyone should have to do that.
At the same time, the Bechdel test is a poor test for sexism, it's still a decent test for representation of women in media, so its actual use is quite valid AND simple. Which is a good marker.
Sure, I will agree that it can be a quick measure of how well women are represented in certain types of media, but even there it can only be indicative of an area that needs more study. If you wanted to really understand how well represented women are in some form of media, movies for instance, you would still need to measure more statistics, like how many films have female leads, how much screen time is devoted to men and how much to women, you would have to look at the roles they are given, the way male characters are interacting with female characters and many others.