9:39 pm - 02/16/2012

The 2012 Oscars and the Bechdel Test

It’s been a few years since I’ve checked in with The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies so I thought it would be a good time to look in on Hollywood and see if there’s been any substantial improvement in women’s representations on the big screen. In this updated video, I go through the 2011 films nominated for Best Picture at the 84th annual Academy Awards and see how they measure up to the Bechdel Test. Keep watching because I also propose a small addendum to help clarify the spirit of the test and provide a solution on how Hollywood can fix the glaring problem that the Bechdel Test exposes. I’ll also address the question, “What about the reverse test?” and I’ll show an alternative test that has been adapted by critics to identify the presence of people of colour in films. Sprinkled throughout this video I offer a few movie recommendations.

Transcript of the video at the source

The Bechdel Test seriously sets a very low bar (be it women or poc, it is so sad that so many films fail it and money will mostly go to films about white men's problems.
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frankthesheep 16th-Feb-2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
I totally agree on The Bechdel Test's low standards. I can't help but, SMH and roll my eyes when the people over at jezebel praise "2 Broke Girls" for passing The Bechdel Test and ignore all the other issues.
erised_mirror 16th-Feb-2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
like the racism and rape jokes.
_xxtom 16th-Feb-2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
hera_bearrra 16th-Feb-2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
I hate 2 Broke Girls, yuck.
nistha 16th-Feb-2012 10:22 pm (UTC)
Jezebel fucking sucks now. UGH. I need to find another site kind of like what it was in 2007/2008.
kurokaen 17th-Feb-2012 04:57 am (UTC)
The Hairpin is my new Jezebel. <3 It's amazing.
lovejoydiver 16th-Feb-2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
ugh jezebel is such a fucking joke
beating_heartss 17th-Feb-2012 01:42 am (UTC)


how can you ignore all of the other issues?!
chantonii 17th-Feb-2012 07:36 am (UTC)
Oh jezebel. Oh dear. You would hope a show called 2 Broke Girls would pass the Bechdel Test, you don't need to praise that.
noonish 24th-Feb-2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
Man if anything I'd take this test and it's low standards with a grain of salt, not use it as an excuse why anything is great so much as a bare-bones bit of proof how sexist/lacking in women a movie can be even with such low standards. Its standards are so low, though, how the fuck can you consider it proof of quality? It's not that kind of test...morons. Jezebel rly needs to stop.
erised_mirror 16th-Feb-2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
I'm glad this video adresses how the Bechdel Test (or any other test to determine whether or not a movie is feminist friendly or even if there is a female presence in the movie) doesn't have anything to do with the movie's quality.
hobnailedboots 16th-Feb-2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
yeah ia
moddchicc 16th-Feb-2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
suspendtheguilt 16th-Feb-2012 09:25 pm (UTC)
ichthyosaur 16th-Feb-2012 09:26 pm (UTC)
and I'm glad she used WALL-E to illustrate this point
faithgrowsold 16th-Feb-2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
I was happy she used Attack the Block :D
avilewoman 16th-Feb-2012 10:19 pm (UTC)
Something I've come to realize, too, is that the Bechdel Test doesn't measure the quality of women's dialogue, either. If two named women aren't talking about men, that's great, but if they're talking about insufferable first-world problems, IDK how to feel about it.
kracmalyaz 17th-Feb-2012 03:56 am (UTC)
LOL yes, I mean, The Room passes the test.

hobnailedboots 16th-Feb-2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
Whilst I agree that most movies should pass the Bechdel test, the Bechdel test itself isn't the be all and end all 'it's either sexist or it's not' test.

Imo a movie can be unsexist (Chrome tells me this is not a word but I am using it anyway) without passing, and like the OP says it is a low bar; movies can pass the Bechdel test and still be ridiculously sexist.

Just give me some strong female characters, dammit. And no, I do not mean 'abs of steel' strong. I mean 'layered like a fucking onion' strong.
reciprokates 16th-Feb-2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, I hate it that so often the 'strong' female characters are 'abs of steel' strong. Screen writers and producers really are so lazy and more often than not, these 'strong' characters are also part of the objectification going on in movies. Part of men's fantasies about women.
mizmalice 16th-Feb-2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
I hate how there are few women in film who are emotionally strong. It's kind of like the only strong women are the ones who kick ass. And god forbid they both kick butt and be well-adjusted.

Edited at 2012-02-16 09:39 pm (UTC)
hershelwalker 16th-Feb-2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
that's exactly what she says in the video..lol
hobnailedboots 16th-Feb-2012 09:49 pm (UTC)
lol I did watch it...after posting this comment.

I feel like your icon is judging me rn. D:
_xxtom 16th-Feb-2012 09:47 pm (UTC)
thats what she said.
tankmachine 16th-Feb-2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
whenever i see the Bechdel test it makes me think of bechamel sauce and then i get hungry
theratwhispers 16th-Feb-2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
i like this comment
frankthesheep 16th-Feb-2012 09:25 pm (UTC)
I call it "The bechamel sauce" test in my head.
pigeonswerver 16th-Feb-2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
She's awesome, it makes me sad that she gets so much hate.
briknowsbest 16th-Feb-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
chimbleysweep 16th-Feb-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
tusiaczek87 16th-Feb-2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
she does? :( i love her
chimbleysweep 16th-Feb-2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Anyone who brings up feminist issues gets hate. But usually people criticize her eyebrows and her voice. Guarantee there will be comments in this post about both.
foofbunny 16th-Feb-2012 09:41 pm (UTC)
ikr and always for fucking stupid reasons like "her eyebrows are bad" or "her voice is so annoying~"
hershelwalker 16th-Feb-2012 09:45 pm (UTC)
she does?
ouronlylight 16th-Feb-2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
She does? That makes me sad, I love her videos.
feathersandgold 16th-Feb-2012 11:10 pm (UTC)
mte :(
mcwicca 17th-Feb-2012 12:24 am (UTC)
IKR I've heard people say that she's bitchy here and I'm like HOLY FUCK YOU'RE MISSING THE POINT.
chantonii 17th-Feb-2012 07:39 am (UTC)
It's so dumb. I really enjoy her videos but I always hear people going on about how they hate her eyebrows and she's a bitch. RME.
executivehpfan 16th-Feb-2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
This was a really interesting watch, thank you. I'm...a little depressed right now but that's okay! lol

Also, George Takei's retitling of The Help is perfect.
wicked_g 17th-Feb-2012 02:42 am (UTC)
lol I loved George Takei creeping up the screen
tx5mym5 17th-Feb-2012 05:29 am (UTC)
I love that bit about George Takei. He's quite right about movies with minority characters. I can only think of a few that would pass the race Bechdel test.
hera_bearrra 16th-Feb-2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
I love these videos, even though they make me super depressed.
sandstorm 16th-Feb-2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'll see something like this and think "I will gladly go live off of the land because it doesn't seem like we've advanced far enough in equality." but then I remember that you can't give up.
briknowsbest 16th-Feb-2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
I love this girl's videos sfm
chimbleysweep 16th-Feb-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
I really love her videos.
must_go_faster 16th-Feb-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
I like the adapted version for POC, too. And if you combine them, the amount of US movies where to women of colour speak to each other but not about men or white people in general must be depressingly low.
prettywitch 16th-Feb-2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
The only ones that pass are prob Tyler Perry movies and those are horribly stereotypical :(
foofbunny 16th-Feb-2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
Once for a presentation I presented a POC version that was "two racialized characters with names talk to each other about something other than their racialization" but I really love the "talking about a white character" approach.
avilewoman 16th-Feb-2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
I'm sad that the only one I can think of that passes that particular set of criteria is Deathproof (which I enjoyed, but it's directed/written by a white male).
tx5mym5 17th-Feb-2012 05:30 am (UTC)
I would like to think of QT as an ally because he seems aware of race on some level that's beyond the Hollywood standard, but on the other hand he does seem like a creepy fetishist.
tx5mym5 17th-Feb-2012 05:31 am (UTC)
I can only think of Pariah and Snow Flower & the Secret Fan. I haven't seen Pariah, but I liked Snow Flower just for the modern story of friendship.
wickedmynx 16th-Feb-2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
Love her videos, I especially loved the tropes series
piratesswoop 16th-Feb-2012 09:31 pm (UTC)
do people REALLY ask about reverse bechdel tests.............
wickedmynx 16th-Feb-2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
people asks why they can't have a white history month or a straight pride parade, so it's not really all that surprising.
reciprokates 16th-Feb-2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
There is no end to stupidity found in comments beneath feminist blog entries. In Germany they have created a page that republishes troll comments and earns money through ads which then go to feminist bloggers. Sadly they won't run out of content any time soon.
arbiterin 16th-Feb-2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Oh can you post the link? Thanks in advance!
xo_prettywords 16th-Feb-2012 09:42 pm (UTC)
lmao that sounds awesome
joaniemaloney 16th-Feb-2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
damn, that's awesome.
flawed_x_design 17th-Feb-2012 08:43 am (UTC)
This is so awesome, I can't even.
A+ Germany, A+
imnotasquirrel 16th-Feb-2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I think it makes for a good point of comparison. Like when people say that the Bechdel test isn't the be all, end all of feminism, they're correct - but when you consider how many movies can pass the reverse test while not passing the former, it's still depressing as hell and evidence that things are really fucked up.
must_go_faster 16th-Feb-2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
I assume most of them live on tumblr and abuse the #equalism, #humanism and #misandry tags frequently.
ciara_belle 16th-Feb-2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
People always ask about "men's history month" and "white history month" and other stupid nonsense like that, so it doesn't surprise me.
hera_bearrra 16th-Feb-2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
People ask about reverse racism and reverse sexism all the time.
tusiaczek87 16th-Feb-2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
oww i love when we get post with her vidoes
even though i get really sad after watching them;/
artemis_archer 16th-Feb-2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
I always find myself using the Bechdel Test when I watch movies and TV.
duchello 16th-Feb-2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed watching this video but omg almost turned it off because I dislike her voice so much, its weirdly squeaky idk
demonsandsongs 16th-Feb-2012 09:56 pm (UTC)
her voice isn't squeaky at all wtf are you talking about.
chimbleysweep 16th-Feb-2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you need different speakers.
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