Curious question - whenever you watch a film do you ever bear in mind the Bechdel Test or other similar tropes?(18 Posts)
I'm in between jobs at the moment so I have a lot of time to
waste look into things that I'd have otherwise never paid much attention to. Lately I've been watching a lot of films and have noted the Bechdel test - not to my surprise films have confirmed that women appearing together on screen will almost always have a conversation about a man.
Various types of women are portrayed in a certain light almost all of the time. If the actress in question is fat then she'll always be the funny/humorous one, if she's thin she'll most likely be the love interest that goes through a bit of toil to eventually 'win' the man. Black women are almost always sassy and aggressive. Even in a love story the man will almost always have another storyline that doesn't involve his love interest whereas the woman's sole focus will be about the man.
I read a good blog today about Scarlett Johansson's casting in Ghost in the Shell, based on the classic manga series by Masamune Shirow. Despite the fact that Scarlett is not suited to the role as set out by the author, DreamWorks decided that she'd most likely appeal to a bigger audience.
Do you notice these sort of things or not really care either way?
God yes - once you're awakened to it you can't go back. Doesn't mean you can't enjoy art/entertainment that stereotypes - but you are a more discerning viewer, and perhaps less likely to be subconsciously influenced.
Some people may say you're 'overthinking' - I don't want to go through life under thinking.
Yes, I usually think about the bechdel test when I'm watching films, depressing though it is. I also think about the depth of the female characters and how they are portrayed. My DP is very used to the occasional ranty diatribe about these things mid-film.
DS always listens out for the famous scream (Heimlich??).
I try to see Walt Disney citations.
But that's about it.
Yup, once you're aware of it your awareness can't be undone! I lean towards things that do pass the Bechdel test. My friend told me about it when we watched Pitch Perfect (Love that film!).
My sister and I have a contest between us about who can recognise/spot the most actors in a show from other shows.
I also like to keep an eye out for intertextuality (or whatever it's called when it's on film). For example Agents of SHIELD (season 1 especially) is full of Buffy stuff.
I read a tumblr once that explained in detail why movies/tv shows are directed and shot the way they are. It's very scientific; every camera angle and movement is planned out to the minutest detail. The screen is divided into 9 sections, and the eye is drawn to specific areas of the screen more quickly than others, and once you know all this it is easy to see boobs/ass/hips framed very specifically to attract the attention of the viewer. A classic example is Scarlett Johansson in the Avengers. There is a scene where she is holding two sticks or pipes or something, and in order to keep her hips and boobs in the right quadrants, she was forced to tilt her head to remain in the shot.
Basically, every image we see is manufactured in order to elicit a specific response. It's fascinating and slightly worrying!
Of course. The Bechdel test isn't exactly a new thing, and you'd have to be lobotomised not to be aware of the type-casting of actors. Imagine a film that had Melissa McCarthy as a straight romantic lead, with Cameron Diaz as her single best friend, but they never discuss the male lead at all, but spend the entire film talking about a subplot relating to their jobs. Or a rom com where the male lead did absolutely nothing throughout the film other than obsess about the female lead.
I think the most feminist thing I've seen recently on the small screen was the bits of otherwise uninteresting The Night Manager where Olivia Coleman's driven agent was stumping through the corridors of power/glamorous international hotels being very, very pregnant, completely defined by her commitment to her job, and with a vaguely protective relationship to be her barely-glimpsed husband and to the glamorous male lead. Plus it was surprisingly gratifying to see a heavily pregnant woman breaking into a safe and shooting a nasty henchman.
There was a good AIBU about women on movie posters not long ago. They always look inane or scared, never frowning or having any gravitas.
The new Star Wars was very disappointing. Ren is such a great character but it still failed and she's not even prominent in the merchandise.
The new Star wars passed the Bechtel test.
Ray and the bar owner
Yup, once you're aware of it your awareness can't be undone!
Yes to this Faith, I now watch films with all these issues in mind and ready to break out into a rant. I notice it even in the films my toddler niece watches ffs!
Oh, sorry, they were talking about men, but not in a romantic context so yes, it passes.
Teacaddy apparently in the book that part was male. I loved her in that role, like you say, so good to see a driven, strong female in a Beeb drama.
Just moving this thread into films, OP please do shout if this is a problem for you.
Actually I do.
As an aside, we recently watched all of S1 Peaky Blinders and both noticed
SPOILER how during the love scene, the camera exclusively on the girl.
It was as if the viewer was being invited to ogle her. It also meant no one was able to ogle Cillian Murphy mind
Yes - once you start noticing, you can't stop. It makes the few films or programmes that don't come from that perspective much appreciated. The Night Manager, London Spy, and Ripper Street all stood out in the last year for making an effort to have some women 'just doing things' rather than just being eye candy or there to be a spurious plot excuse by having violence done to them.
I was dreading ds outgrowing CBeebies which isn't unproblematic but so much less stereotypically sexist than most dramas aimed at kids, so while I never thought I'd be grateful for Stampy's endless Minecraft videos, it could be so much worse. Even if only one of the co-presenters is a woman, so Bechdel fail.
Saw the Angry Birds movie this weekend which is much better than I'd feared, in fact enjoyable, but only one female character out of about 10 significant characters. It glared. At least BBC quiz shows are now making real efforts to get women on - HIGNFY seems always to have one now, and QI now has a female host as well so might manage a majority of women sometime soon. I predict critics will claim them that it's no longer funny, which should be untrue as the episode I saw filmed was much better than recent ones with Stephen Fry.
Coming a bit late to this, but I was thinking of it this weekend when watching star trek. It was so bloody obvious! Uhura running around in a mini skirt waiting to be rescued. They had tried to update the story with one new female character, but that just made it obvious how all the ones we are supposed to relate to and care about are men.
As many have pointed out, once you put the bechdel glasses on you can't go back
Another 'yes absolutely!' answer from me.
I have no patience with the 'you're reading too much in, why can't you just enjoy it?' attitude, particularly as these days it seems to be increasingly attached to (often gendered) Fanboy attitudes that take umbrage at perfectly legitimate claims about the way that women, BME actors, gay actors are treated. I just see it as anti-intellectual, anti-diversity, and (to be honest) as a bit patronising to film, assuming that it's somehow the equivalent of a kind of disposable razor that you use once and then bin.
I think some people get very upset and disturbed by the fact that someone has seen something in a movie that they didn't see and, rather than engage with that person and their ideas, they just deny that it ought to be read that way or get enraged that someone is demanding that they see it in a new way. (Why we are so pathetically fragile about our childish impulses in such a privileged society is an interesting question - I reckon Freud would have a few things to say). It's particularly bad with nostalgic films that tap into an established male fan culture - the furore over the casting of Ghostbusters with women is a great example.
Join the discussion
Please login first.