no chicks in flicksmakesmesick

The hardest part about reviewing movies on a regular basis is actually seeing the films. This is particularly difficult as the summer blockbuster season explodes – movies are opening every weekend, and all I want to do is hang around the patio of Mexican restaurants with a margarita in my hand. Someone should come up with a way to watch movies outside; maybe a speaker could hang off the window … nah, that’s not going to work. How would you prevent people from hiding in the trunk as cars drive in?

Since I’m just a tad behind in celluloid matter to critique, I thought I would inform my readers of another interesting way to judge whether a movie is worth $11 and possibly the lining of your stomach. This test won’t measure if the nausea quotient is high, but it may make you feel a little sick when you realize exactly what it proves.

If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you may have noticed that I occasionally point out the lack of strong female characters in a film, or sometimes the dearth of any women at all, whether they are integral to the plot or not. (see The Adjustment Bureau) I recently discovered (thanks, Jim!*) another interesting way to judge a film’s quota of women. It’s called The Bechdel Test, and it only has three simple rules to pass:

1) It has to have at least two women in it.

2) The women have to talk to each other.

3) They must talk about something other than a man.
(Not limited to romantic relationships; for example, two sisters talking about their father doesn’t pass)

The Bechdel Test was created by cartoonist Amy Bechdel and first appeared in a 1985 comic strip entitled “The Rule.” One of the characters says that she only watches a movie if it satisfies the above requirements. A variant of the test was later added in which the two women characters must actually have names.

This comic strip came out 27 years ago and was a lighthearted attempt to point out the inequity of the male-female ratio in films. But times have changed, right? Progress and that sort of thing? Not exactly. In a year that saw Congress vote down equal pay for women as well as declare an outright war on reproductive rights, the Top Nine Nominated Best Picture Films of 2012 had only two out of nine movies pass the test.

This test sets the bar pretty low. It’s not even requiring a film to be pertinent to women’s lives in any way: it’s just suggesting that they talk to each other and have names! There is also an African-American version of the test where the rules are changed only slightly:

1) It has to have at least two black people in it.

2) The black people have to talk to each other.

3) They must talk about something other than a white person.

Not surprisingly, even fewer films can pass this one.

I’ll be the first one to admit that I do a fair amount of wading in the shallow end and carrying on about Marky Marks abs, but it would be nice to at least have the option to see a film that reflected something (anything!) having to do with at least 50% of the population. Thank God for Bridesmaids, which at least gave Hollywood pause to stop and ponder, “Why did all those people go see a movie with all those women in it?” A couple more blockbusters like that that get rave reviews and (more importantly) make money would go far in changing the culture of Hollywood.

*Thanks to my friend Jim for directing me to The Bechdel Test. Can’t believe I had never heard of it before. Also, thanks to everyone that clicked and got me to 5000 hits! It means nothing in the grand scheme of things, and yet it makes me ridiculously happy. You should post this on your Facebook page – I’ll bet that would make you happy, too.

Coming Next: Moonrise Kingdom!

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