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comment by kleinbl00

You are mistaken.

I started a firestorm on a board in 2008 by linking to the Bechdel test. It was a lot more underground then. Amy Bechdel herself said I'd brought more traffic to her site with that post than it ever had previously. And the discussion we had - industry folx, closed board - was vitriolic and passionate.

Yes, it's a joke - the point was Alien was the last movie to pass (this was in 1988 or so, when the test was first conceived) because it has two girls who talk about killing the alien. The point being, it takes next to nothing to pass, yet that level of normalcy (two female characters that do not exist solely as foils for male relationships) is still noteworthy in cinema.

It's switching, though, for the same reason anything switches in Hollywood: money. Teenaged boys are more likely to spend their evenings playing GTA than watching Pacific Rim and since there still aren't a lot of girl-friendly (let alone girl-centric) video games, Hollywood is attracting any audience they can.

Keep in mind - it's not about "strong female roles." It's about any two female roles doing anything other than talk about men ever. And no - there's no girls in The Hobbit. There's barely girls in LoTR. Jackson built them out a whole bunch, otherwise it would have been a massive sausagefest.

The arts are masculine. That's a fact. They're becoming more gender-neutral. That's also a fact. But expecting it to happen without turmoil is to expect disappointment.





user-inactivated  ·  2851 days ago  ·  link  ·  

But a movie with a single female character is perfectly capable of propagating strong female roles, right? (Fargo, say.) The whole test just seems weird to me. I know how it started but why on earth did it catch on in mainstream media? People take it semi-seriously.

    Keep in mind - it's not about "strong female roles."

Shouldn't it be, if we have to have a test at all? I mean, putting aside whether the inclusion of a made-up character in The Hobbit was criminal, she's basically there because one of the long-standing criticisms of Tolkien (and fantasy in general) is his relative lack of female characters -- so now because of the attention paid to "strong female roles" in Hollywood, little girls can go see that movie and have a role model. (They still fail any test, in my opinion, because of the idiotic romance they forced on her, but it's a step.) My point is she never has a real conversation with a female character but who cares?

kleinbl00  ·  2851 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    But a movie with a single female character is perfectly capable of propagating strong female roles, right?

And strong female roles are important, but they're not the object of discussion here. The Bechdel test is about normal female roles. It's about measuring the narrative warp present in Hollywood. "Two women talking about anything other than a man" isn't about being strong, particularly as it's passed with "two women talking about a sandwich" or "two women talking about the weather."

I find it a valid complaint - two guys can shoot the shit in any movie anywhere. Two girls don't shoot the shit unless it's a chick flick. As I've discussed before, there are any number of non-deliberate ways that it happens, but unintended bias is still bias.

As a writer, I pay attention for the simple fact that abiding by the Bechdel test gives you a bare minimum character depth for no loss to you. You don't need to change your story, you just need a role that belongs to a female for reasons other than romantic entanglement. Considering women are half the population, I think normalization is a worthy goal.

    I know how it started but why on earth did it catch on in mainstream media? People take it semi-seriously.

Blame Sweden.

    I mean, putting aside whether the inclusion of a made-up character in The Hobbit was criminal, she's basically there because one of the long-standing criticisms of Tolkien (and fantasy in general) is his relative lack of female characters -- so now because of the attention paid to "strong female roles" in Hollywood, little girls can go see that movie and have a role model.

It's important to note: the Bechdel test does not require quality. And you'll get no discussion from me on The Hobbit - I hated the book and the first movie was dreck.

    My point is she never has a real conversation with a female character but who cares?

Conversations need not be real - that's the whole point. "Fuck, I sure love rainbows" counts. The argument is not that women in cinema need to be momentous, it's that they need to be - they deserve to be - normal.

thundara  ·  2851 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    little girls can go see that movie and have a role model

The newest Hobbit reminded me of the (incredibly hilarious) Red Letter Media Star Wars reviews (Start here. One of Plinkett's criticisms of Phantom Menace was that it threw in characters to appeal to as wide a range of audiences as possible (i.e. Jar Jar is for the kids).

Tauriel feels just like that. She adds nothing significant to the overall story arc other than act as a courier for the hot dwarf. At best, she is no harm, at worst, she's another layer of padding to an already encumbered storyline.

user-inactivated  ·  2851 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What's even weirder to me is that they already had a made-up (Hobbit-wise anyway) character sitting in the wings to fulfill her made-up role -- Legolas -- but instead they marginalized him and made things even more complicated. Again, all for the sake of having a female character, which I can respect to an extent (but also it's like we're all being force-fed feminism in a situation where it can't help).