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"the Bechdel Test is total and complete bullshit."

(53 Posts)
BelfastBloke Wed 12-Jun-13 20:12:40

I am not posting this because I believe it. I'm posting this because I had never really thought about this angle on the Bechdel test, which I enjoy applying to many Hollywood films.

A correspondent to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish blog writes:

"As I think I?ve written to you before, the Bechdel Test is total and complete bullshit. I?m a Hollywood screenwriter, so let me drop a little knowledge on this one. The only way a film is going to pass the Bechdel Test is if the protagonist is female, or it?s an ensemble cast with a bunch of different storylines. Anything else is bad screenwriting. Here?s why: Movies do not suffer digressions well. To be good, they have to stay on their main storyline. This is one of the structural realities that separates them from novels.

That means, in a non-ensemble movie, If two characters are talking, and neither of them is the protagonist, then those two characters have to be talking about the protagonist. If you have a scene where two non-protagonist characters are talking about something unrelated to the protagonist (and thus, to the main storyline), any writer or executive worth her salt is going to cut that scene. It?ll drag the entire movie down and make people reach for their popcorn. Thus, if the protagonist is a man, then if he?s not on screen, any characters who are on screen are going to be talking about him. It?s just good writing.

Do I wish there were more movies with a strong female protagonist? Hell yeah, I do. I?m actually returning to writing one as soon as I finish this email. But the Bechdel Test is utter hooey. It?s using a metric that fails to understand the basic principles of the thing it?s purporting to measure.

ParsingFancy Thu 20-Jun-13 13:05:51

Greenfingers, set mostly in a men's prison, passes the Bechdel test.

Really, it ain't that hard.

BelfastBloke Thu 20-Jun-13 13:20:46

Lurcio, Andrew Sullivan is not the screenwriter who wrote this quotation. Andrew Sullivan is a journalist for Newsweek and the Sunday Times, and is the main author of The Daily Dish website.

The screenwriter who wrote this quotation is just one of The Daily Dish anonymous readers who contributed to an ongoing discussion about the Bechdel Test.

LurcioLovesFrankie Thu 20-Jun-13 15:44:08

Apologies for not reading carefully enough.

But, in other words, we have no idea whether the anonymous contributor really is a screenwriter or is just a complete fantasist. I'd be tempted to log onto the website and call him on it - either list films/TV shows he's written for, or shut up!

(My workplace had to do a major piece of damage limitation after some random anonymous person wrote a comment on the BBC website on a very high profile issue, pretending to be an employee there, and the comment got quoted at face value widely across the press. Surprise, surprise, none of the papers thought to double check the source.)

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