Monday, October 24, 2011

The Bechdel Test

In my random wanderings of the internet I found the coolest test to use on movies. It's called The Bechdel Test,  from the comic Dykes To Watch out For (a comic I'm not familiar with, unfortunately). It is a test that helps illustrate the presence of gender in movies. It isn't a test to determine if a movie is good, or even pro-feminist, just to show how the genders are represented in film. I'm actually a bit sad I hadn't found this earlier (the strip it came from was published in 1985, it's older than me!) It has three basic rules for a movie to pass the test.

1. The movie has to have at least two named female characters.
2. At some point, the female characters have to talk to each other.
3. When they talk, they can't talk about a man.

It is amazing how many movies don't pass this test. My favorite movie, Fight Club, fails miserably (though, it is supposed to be a movie about what it means to be a man in a consumerist society). Although the Kill Bill movies pass, so I can take some solace in that. I have enjoyed applying this test to all the films I have seen recently, and I think it's kind of sad that more movies don't pass. Do filmmakers really think that if two women are on screen not talking about men that I will lose interest? Ah well, maybe they will get the picture eventually.


  1. I'm definitely going to have to give this test a try. But I wonder what constitutes a "name"... does the name have to be mentioned in dialogue? Or would a name on a sign or in the credits suffice?

  2. I was surprised at how difficult it can be to find films that pass the test. That says a lot about the state of film!

  3. I want to say that as long as she is names anywhere it counts. The rules aren't too specific.

  4. It really does. It's like filmmakers think women aren't interesting to the audience, about 50% of whom are women.