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Bechdel Test Thread

(331 Posts)
TrilllianAstra Wed 22-Jun-11 20:52:16

I thought having a thread for "I just watched this and it passed/failed and I thought..." would be good to encourage me to think of the Bechdel test when watching TV/films or reading books. I wonbe watching/reading anything on purpose for the thread, just thought I would apply it to whatever I happened to be watching or reading.

The test doesn't necessarily say that a film is feminist/antifeminist, but it is interesting.

Rules reminder:
Are there at least two women (some versions say "two women with names")
Who have a conversation
About something other than a man?

Feel free to join in smile

PrinceHumperdink Thu 23-Jun-11 22:29:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Harry Potter, too: Hermione talks to Professor McGonagle about her exams and quite a few of the female characters talk to each other about monsters/spells/house elves etc.

Valpollicella Thu 23-Jun-11 23:20:23

Good one SGB, hadn't thought about A2A but you're absolutely right

And quite a lot of Jilly Cooper's books (if not all) have the female characters talking to each other about their jobs/art/music/each other. Also, my favourite author Christopher Brookmyre passes for sure with Pandemonium - several heart-to-hearts between named female characters about faith and mythology and bullying.

HerBeX Thu 23-Jun-11 23:33:20

I think books must be better at the bechdel test, no?

Don't know why I think that, just an impression/ expectation... based on... dunno really...

DilysPrice Fri 24-Jun-11 08:31:54

Harry Potter is quite feeble at the B test given it's size and scope and number of characters, but some of that can be excused by the fact that Harry is the viewpoint character, so conversations without him in will not normally get reported.

DontCallMePeanut Fri 24-Jun-11 08:55:40

I think UP was the most spectacular fail of the Bechdel test. In fact, the only female speaking characters had about a line or two each. Never even met.

TrilllianAstra Fri 24-Jun-11 08:57:46

No guessing allowed - if you want to know if EastEnders passes then you (unfortunately) have to sit down and watch an episode and see if that particular episode passes. smile

Good point about 1st-person books, if it's written in proper 1st-person then there will be no conversations at all without the main character in them, unless they are eavesdropping.

Another high-passing series is Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins novels. Absolutely loads of female characters talking about all sorts (well mostly religion/murder/ghosts but also about their lives and their wishes).

PrinceHumperdink Fri 24-Jun-11 13:18:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HerBeX Fri 24-Jun-11 17:48:43

Fantasy of bossy mother figure?

It's what some men want their wives to do isn't it... "keeps me on the straight and narrow ho ho"


ChantingAsISpeak Fri 24-Jun-11 21:06:51

I watched the new True Grit - sort of passes, there is a conversation about a room, not exactly earth shattering and as the boarding house landlady doesn't seem to have a name it probably won't count. But Mattie is a fabulous character. She holds her own, does what she wants and the Apprentice candidates could learn from her negotiations. I had seen the original but it didn't seem to have the same impact.

I watch quite a lot of Dr Who as DS adores it and so we have a lot of the DVDs. Quite a lot of episodes pass, some fail (seems to depend who is in charge of the script).

TrilllianAstra Fri 24-Jun-11 21:26:24

I want to watch In Bruges tonight, but the tv seems to be stuck on tennis. From what I know of it there are no female charcters so it'll be a surprise if it passes.

I like Dr Who. Does The Doctor count as a man? Technically he is an alien...

There is a female character in In Bruges but as far as I remember it is a big fail!

ziptoes Fri 24-Jun-11 21:32:20

Surely what we want are films/books for our kids that pass the test so we don't pass this down another generation so..

the Narnia/Dark is Rising books (and Famous Five, but I'm not sure talking about cake is any better than man when we're talking about kids books)
Pippi Longstocking
Swallows and Amazons
Can't think of ANY films

Fails: (sad as DS loves these films)
Finding Nemo
Monsters Inc - OK the chief of police is a woman monster but she only talks to guys
the Incredibles (the mum and the small black dressed woman only talk about the dad- can't remember the names) might have to move this DH has just pointed out that the mum talks to the daughter
Wallace and Gromit (poo I love these)

Damn this is depressing. My mum used to change the gender of characters in storybooks so I had some role models (before I could read obviously). Sad to think we still need to be doing that.

thisonehasalittlecar Fri 24-Jun-11 21:37:07

Bridesmaids kind of passes because they do chat about a lot of other stuff (not all of it very edifying, you may have heard about the food poisoning scene) but then again they are all only thrown together because of a wedding. I'm pretty sure it fails the reverse test though, now that I think about it you barely see the women's OHs at all.

StealthPolarBear Fri 24-Jun-11 21:37:18

Does it have to be a proper conversation
(thinking easyenders
"Pack o faaags luv"
"six pand forty"

would that count?

StealthPolarBear Fri 24-Jun-11 21:38:16

Would imagine that Disney's Cars fails too sad

What about if a woman is making a speech to a mixed audience?

StealthPolarBear Fri 24-Jun-11 21:42:05

ah hang on no thats about a man

StealthPolarBear Fri 24-Jun-11 21:42:15

well boy car

thisonehasalittlecar Fri 24-Jun-11 21:42:47

I took a couple of feminist lit classes and in both of them Desperately Seeking Susan was mentioned as being quite revolutionary in that it has two female leads who not only are not looking for a man but the whole premise of the film is that they are looking for each other.

HerBeX Fri 24-Jun-11 21:58:01

oh yes and it has all that fab madonna music grin

I remember going to see it and wearing crucifixes and everythign...

CelebratedMonkey Fri 24-Jun-11 22:12:53

I think about the Bechdel test a lot - when watching stuff but also when doing my own writing. It is so easy to fall into the trap of 'need to create an extra character' and starting from 'white male is the neutral choice'. Why on earth, as a woman, do I still make random characters male rather than female?

Anyway, Gilmore Girls as already mentioned generally passes.
Bones has a strong female cast so usually passes.
Same with Grey's Anatomy.

Female leads mean the show is much more likely to pass while having good quantities of male characters too. Get a male lead and you're more likely to get just a couple of token women.

You get the same problem (more so) in videogames too.

Men are nearly always the character placed at the centre of the show or the film or the game. They they have a circle of friends or acquaintances, and some of them may be women, but because they are on the periphery they never actually talk to each other - only through the central men. Rubbish and unrealistic.

<thinks about own work and whether it passes the test. Oh dear. Out of 3 published novels only one actually passes..... Can I be not taken outside and shot if I plead that writing erotic fiction generally means that the characters generally talk about each other>

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