Alison Bechdel

Bechdel Test

All this week, Film School Rejects presents a daily dose of our favorite articles from the archive. Originally published in September 2011, Ashe Cantrell applies the simple, ever-relevant Bechdel Test to a number of high profile movies…  The Bechdel Test, if you’re not familiar with it, is a benchmark for movies developed by Alison Bechdel in 1985. For a movie to pass The Bechdel Test, it must contain just one thing – a scene in which two or more named female characters have a conversation (that is, back and forth dialogue) about anything at all besides men. Anything, even if it’s something stereotypically feminine, like shopping or shoes. It could be about dog poo. It doesn’t matter. Sounds simple, right? Then it might be kinda shocking to find out that out of 2,500 movies, only about half pass the test. And to be clear, passing doesn’t mean the movie’s good or bad. Failing the test doesn’t mean the movie’s evil or anti-woman, or that passing makes it some sort of strongly feminist movie. It’s just to get people thinking about gender and how it’s presented in film. In fact, the example Bechdel gave as a film that passed the test was Alien, simply because Ripley and Lambert have a brief conversation about the alien. (Let’s ignore the fact that the alien was a walking penis-monster, as this was before the Xenomorphs had established sexes – the Queens weren’t introduced until 1986’s Aliens.) But it’s still surprising to find out that some of the […]

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Bechdel Test

In 1985, Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For released a little strip that has influenced how we think about cinema to this day. Titled “The Rule,” it was what would become The Bechdel Test, and it had three simple criteria for movies: 1. There have to be at least two named women in it 2. who talk to each other 3. about something other than a man. That’s it. That’s the test. While it has since been an unofficial way to gauge gender disparity in film, now a number of Swedish theaters are taking things to a new level by assigning ratings to their films based upon whether or not they pass the test. Something like The Hunger Games, for example, which passes the Bechdel Test, gets an “A” rating from the cinemas. And so far, the reaction has been pretty positive; four theater chains are currently employing the rating system, but with support from the state-funded Swedish Film Institute, the initiative might spread. Scandanavian TV channel Viasat Film stated that they’ll be using the ratings from now on in their film reviews and is even showing a special marathon of passing films.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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