Thursday, June 03, 2010

Women in film

John August takes on the Bechdel Test:
So if this rule doesn’t necessarily speak to quality or content, what’s the point? My friend Beth, who took all the women’s studies classes I never did and therefore yawns at the mention of this old axiom, would argue it’s meaningless checkbox-marking.

But for screenwriters, I think it’s still fascinating. After all, we’re the ones who ultimately put characters in scenes together.

Looking back through my movies, I’m struck by how rarely the female characters actually do talk to each other. In Big Fish, it’s only a brief moment with Sandra and Josephine. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s a throwaway moment between Violet and Veruca. Titan A.E. fails the test unless you know that the alien Stith is technically female.

In each of these cases, I had to spend a few minutes just to come up with these (admittedly slight) examples.

Also, I find it fascinating that the Reverse Bechdel Test is almost meaningless. Pretty much every movie made includes two named male characters talking about something other than a woman.
As someone in the comments points out, many more TV shows pass this test, so it must have something to do with the compressed format of the movies AND male bias.