We talk a lot in class about how minorities are portrayed in films but there’s still a long way to go when it comes to women in movies. Think back to the last film you saw and conjure an image of 2 men talking about anything. Not hard, right? How about 2 women talking? That’s a little harder.
There’s a test available to try framing different films called the Bechdel Test. Named for the creator Alison Bechdel after a comic strip she wrote, the rule states that a movie must fall under 3 categories.
My scripts had multiple women with names. Talking to each other. About something other than men. That, they explained nervously, was not okay. I asked why. Well, it would be more accurate to say I politely demanded a thorough, logical explanation that made sense for a change (I’d found the “audience won’t watch women!” argument pretty questionable, with its ever-shifting reasons and parameters).
At first I got several tentative murmurings about how it distracted from the flow or point of the story. I went through this with more than one professor, more than one industry professional. Finally, I got one blessedly telling explanation from an industry pro: “The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”
Yes, people still think like this. And I checked. Even children’s films fall under scrutiny and fail.
How do your favorite films measure up?