The response to my article about my experiences with the film industry’s refusal to allow movies to pass the Bechdel test has been fascinating, so a link roundup is in order!
Response from writer/film types:
Charles Stross announced that from now on his books and any film adaptations of them will pass the Bechdel test. He also made a follow up post listing articles that spurred the decision.
Aspiring screenwriter Misty Flores lists some great recommendations of films that pass the test.
Fascinating post on Jennifer Kesler’s blog The Hathor Legacy about an unwritten rule that I never heard of, but which, come to think of it, I almost certainly have followed instinctively in my screenplays:women can’t talk to other women about anything other than men.
He and his readers are trying to compile a list of successful mainstream movies that pass the test.
While I avoided naming any of the professors or industry professionals I encountered who advised me against passing the Bechdel test, Miss-Anthropy – a current UCLA film student – had no trouble making one accurate guess.
And Extraneous Particles talks about this as a “trap” writers fall into:
It’s easy to define the characters you don’t understand by attaching them to a character you do understand. But it’s a disservice to the character, and ultimately, a disservice to yourself as a writer.
What bloggers had to say
Fleet-Streetese breaks down several 2008 movies into a three-point Bechdel-based scale. There’s some very interesting analysis here.
Seeking Avalon talks about how the comic book industry does the same thing as film, relegating women to the position of “exotic others” from the perspective of adolescent white boys.
Silverblue digs into some of the outlinks and backlinks and posts some very cogent analysis – hitting, incidentally, on one of the exact arguments I used to have with industry pros: “Maybe chick flicks do not do very well because they usually suck, not because women are an insanely hard demographic to reach.” But that’s just the beginning – read the whole thing, and the comments, too.
What I found interesting about Betacandy’s posts is that they outline in convincing detail why it is that the movie/TV industry in California is still stuck in the 1960s – and why Joss Whedon comes across as such a rebel just because he did, some time ago, manage to write a TV series in which two women sometimes talked to each other about something other than a man.
And, on a side note, this is why the frequently under-appreciated Xena: Warrior Princess was revolutionary, too.
Ideologically Impure draws a very appropos contrast between Sex & The City and The Golden Girls.
Gold-Plated Witch on Wheels notes the irony of Hollywood making so many movies about evil government and big business screwing the little guy, then screwing over women.
Crazy on Tap has an interesting discussion about such things as how men can be uninteresting or obnoxious in ways women aren’t, thus proving not all men operate on some hive mind which fears girl-cooties above all else.
This comment thread at the F-word makes for really interesting reading as they discuss examples of movies that do and don’t pass the test and share anecdotes about audience responses.
I came across this test after spending a pleasant morning analyzing data while listening to the first six episodes of Denise Richards: It’s Complicated which I found on YouTube. (Such as part 1 of Episode 1.) The show consisted mainly of two named female characters — Denise and sister, Denise and friend, Denise and daughter — talking to each other about something other than a man.
I was surprised how much I liked it.
And apparently this blog full of silly females you should just ignore (someone tell our 18-49 year old male audience about that, ‘kay?) is also capable of sending a bit of traffic to your website: “Impressive spike in hits yesterday. Welcome, new readers from The Hathor Legacy! (I love Project Wonderful sometimes).” That spike was due to the Bechdel post hitting the front page of Reddit, despite the extremely male-dominated audience on that site. Hmm.