In following references to this website to see what’s being said about us, I came across Joseph Childers’ article, How the Bechdel Test could save the Oscars. Here’s an excerpt, in which he’s referring to the Bechdel test and Deggan’s Rule:
Now it would seem, as a white man, I’m not personally injured by the failure of most movies to pass either of these tests. Our stories are being told, our concerns are being addressed, our grievances are being aired; all is well in White Boy Town. But that is not so. First off, any group that only hears it own stories is not getting the full story. Surrounded by only look-and-think-alikes, it becomes impossible not to become parochial and stagnant. After all, one of the main social benefits of fiction is the encouragement of empathy, and these narrow narratives deny us its full expression.
But as much social harm as excluding half the population from being fully realized fictional characters does, I’d say it does even greater damage to movies as an art form. Think about it. Any screenwriter/director/producer that can’t think of anything more for a woman to do than be a girlfriend, wife, mother, or kidnapped daughter is probably going to lack imagination in other areas as well. A filmmaker who only sees minorities as Issues or wacky sidekicks is, more likely than not, a hack.
We’ve talked around here about the fact that a movie with 99% white guys and a couple of token “otherwise” people who only show up to get killed or talk about How Hard It Is Not To Be A White Guy or How Much I Love That White Guy doesn’t reflect reality at all. It’s extremely rare to find yourself in a situation that’s stocked almost exclusively with white guys, right? Just doesn’t happen.
I say “reflect reality” because we all know movies shouldn’t mimic reality. You can go to a mall for free and watch all the reality you want. No, movies are supposed to show us a more interesting version of real life. This is why they can’t flagrantly ignore reality. They can’t have one bullet inexplicably fell two people on opposite sides of the screen. They can’t have a human fly across the screen without telling us how and why. They have to reflect the mundane reality we all live with every day, and persuade us that their reality – in which magic bullets and flying people exist – is plausible.
So why is it we would get angry at filmmakers who gave us magic bullets without explanation and expected us to buy their crap, but we humbly accept All White Male environments, or environments in which everyone but the White Guys has only one personality trait? Is this a more interesting version of reality than the reality most of us live in, which is stocked with people of color and women who are as varied and interesting as the white men who make up the rest of the group? No. It’s goddamn boring, and if you argue otherwise, you’re saying that only white men are interesting to you, which would be sad and pathetic of you.