If you've never heard of the Bechdel test, you should, I declare it. The Bechdel test basically measures whether a movie has a female presence with real female characters by judging it on the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two named female characters, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. Now that doesn't sound too hard, right? Well, the sad thing is how many movies don't meet that criteria. Check out this 2 min video about it. Go ahead, I'll wait.
It's not some crazy feminist thing conspiracy theory. There really is a long standing and very problematic tradition of movies being big ol' sausage fests. And what's even sadder to me is that the types of movies I tend to enjoy are they types that are the worst offenders. Sci-fi, fantasy, action. I'm not a fan of "chick flicks" - the big movies marketed to women - because they're all fucking romantic comedies or romantic dramas. If I'm going to invest my time and money, I want to see more than a man and a woman doing the modern mating dance. I want to solve a mystery, go on an adventure, or blow some shit up.
Unfortunately my interest in sci-fi and action means that seeing a movie which passes the Bechdel test is very rare for me. Let's take a look at 5 of my favorite movies (I'm not laminating this list as a permeant Top 5 or anything, these are just some I happen to really like)
1. Star Wars - Ok, let's get the obvious one out of the way. This doesn't even come CLOSE to passing. I guess Episode 2 passes, but only barely (Queen Jamellia and Padmé talk for a hot second.) But none of the originals do, nor do I or III.
2. The Fifth Element - Nope. There's only one named female character at all. She's totally badass, and I've even cosplayed as her, but the movie still fails.
3. Shaolin Soccer - Fail. Actually, pretty much all of the kung-fu movies I can think of fail.
4. Serenity - ding ding ding! This movie more than passes. Joss gets a lot of credit for being an advocate for having strong female characters. And the credit is well deserved.
5. Moulin Rouge - This is the only romantic movie I'd watch again and again... and still it doesn't pass. I guess even romances are not safe.
Not to mention all of Indiana Jones, most of Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings... It makes me sad and angry. I love these movies, but they ignore my existence I feel like if women would start being treated like people then they could be any movie character, not just the love interest or damsel in distress or eye-candy. I wish I knew how get this to change (without boycotting my favorite movies). But I don't see that it will within my lifetime, and I'm not going to start only watching movies that do pass... It's a no-win situation, and that sucks.
What do you think? Do your favorite movies pass the Bechdel Test?