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(Five Thirty-Eight)   Movies that pass the Bechdel Test are more profitable, probably due to all the women who drag their boyfriends to see them   (fivethirtyeight.com ) divider line
    More: Interesting, Alison Bechdel, Pepper Potts, female characters, Django Unchained, American Hustle, Frankenweenie, Hollywood Insider, damsels in distress  
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2002 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 02 Apr 2014 at 1:58 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-02 01:29:21 PM  
It's not hard to imagine that movies passing the Bechdel test are probably doing a better job reflecting society as it currently exists, where half the planet is comprised of women who have fulfilling conversations about things other than men.

It's less likely than you think.
 
2014-04-02 02:00:05 PM  
The thing I have with the Bechdel test is that it's fine for dramas and comedies, which have a relatively gender-neutral audience, but women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies. That's the realm of men, especially 18-24 men. They want to see men shoot things and blow up, so that's what they get. When women start shelling out the money to see women shoot things and blow up, they'll get those movies, too.

/actually there is such a movie in the works, with Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, and Katee Sackhoff. We'll see how that does.
 
2014-04-02 02:06:33 PM  
You'd be hard pressed to think of a single film that doesn't have a scene where two men have a conversation that isn't about a woman. Plots need to advance, after all. But it's remarkable how many iconic films disastrously fail the Bechdel test.

So does this mean the test/profit margin link is bullshiat? Oh wait.

Better return on investment

Well duh.  Romantic comedies and dramas are cheap as hell compared to spring/summer blockbusters.  Adam Sandler isn't the most bankable man in Hollywood for nothing.
 
2014-04-02 02:08:41 PM  

nmrsnr: The thing I have with the Bechdel test is that it's fine for dramas and comedies, which have a relatively gender-neutral audience, but women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies. That's the realm of men, especially 18-24 men. They want to see men shoot things and blow up, so that's what they get. When women start shelling out the money to see women shoot things and blow up, they'll get those movies, too.

/actually there is such a movie in the works, with Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, and Katee Sackhoff. We'll see how that does.


Your argument seems to be that women don't attend big action movies with women protagonists, so therefore big action movies with women protagonists don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, etc.
 
2014-04-02 02:11:37 PM  

Flappyhead: Better return on investment

Well duh.  Romantic comedies and dramas are cheap as hell compared to spring/summer blockbusters.


Yes, but if the summer blockbusters made more, they'd have a better return on investment. That's why it's called return on investment and not "cost to produce".
 
2014-04-02 02:12:54 PM  

Theaetetus: nmrsnr: The thing I have with the Bechdel test is that it's fine for dramas and comedies, which have a relatively gender-neutral audience, but women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies. That's the realm of men, especially 18-24 men. They want to see men shoot things and blow up, so that's what they get. When women start shelling out the money to see women shoot things and blow up, they'll get those movies, too.

/actually there is such a movie in the works, with Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, and Katee Sackhoff. We'll see how that does.

Your argument seems to be that women don't attend big action movies with women protagonists, so therefore big action movies with women protagonists don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, etc.


Same argument they make for why there are more video games marketed to women.
 
2014-04-02 02:15:20 PM  

Theaetetus: nmrsnr: The thing I have with the Bechdel test is that it's fine for dramas and comedies, which have a relatively gender-neutral audience, but women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies. That's the realm of men, especially 18-24 men. They want to see men shoot things and blow up, so that's what they get. When women start shelling out the money to see women shoot things and blow up, they'll get those movies, too.

/actually there is such a movie in the works, with Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, and Katee Sackhoff. We'll see how that does.

Your argument seems to be that women don't attend big action movies with women protagonists, so therefore big action movies with women protagonists don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, etc.


But will women see a movie with a machine-gun carrying raccoon protagonist?
 
2014-04-02 02:17:30 PM  
Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.
 
2014-04-02 02:22:26 PM  

browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.


FTA: The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.
 
2014-04-02 02:23:41 PM  

TheManofPA: Theaetetus: nmrsnr: The thing I have with the Bechdel test is that it's fine for dramas and comedies, which have a relatively gender-neutral audience, but women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies. That's the realm of men, especially 18-24 men. They want to see men shoot things and blow up, so that's what they get. When women start shelling out the money to see women shoot things and blow up, they'll get those movies, too.

/actually there is such a movie in the works, with Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, and Katee Sackhoff. We'll see how that does.

Your argument seems to be that women don't attend big action movies with women protagonists, so therefore big action movies with women protagonists don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, etc.

But will women see a movie with a machine-gun carrying raccoon protagonist?


Yes.
 
2014-04-02 02:29:06 PM  

browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.



Except for pretty much the entire opening segment conversation between Matt and the guy at Mission Control with a little bit of Shariff thrown in there.
 
2014-04-02 02:34:55 PM  

Theaetetus: browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.

FTA: The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.


It's remarkable how often people don't realize this, or choose to ignore it for the sake of advancing their narrative.
 
2014-04-02 02:43:40 PM  

bdub77: It's not hard to imagine that movies passing the Bechdel test are probably doing a better job reflecting society as it currently exists, where half the planet is comprised of women who have fulfilling conversations about things other than men.

It's less likely than you think.


Let's see. Today I've conversed with four other women irl. Our conversations have involved: the Milwaukee Brewers, The Walking Dead, the Wisconsin Film Fest, weather, exercise and pedometers, skin cancer, the relative strength of the current pot of coffee, the bald eagle cam in Decorah, Iowa, and boring work-related stuff. Granted, the Brewers are men, but we were actually talking about Hank the dog.

If you actually think that women predominantly converse about men, you are probably basing that on fictional women in television and movies. Or you are mainly listening to women with an emotional age of 13.
 
2014-04-02 02:44:05 PM  

Theaetetus: Your argument seems to be that women don't attend big action movies with women protagonists, so therefore big action movies with women protagonists don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, etc.


Almost, but not quite.

The type of stories that are told in action movies are almost always based around military/police people, which until recently has been an exclusively male profession, and still is majority male. So when telling those stories, the default, based on history, is filling those roles with male characters. These stories sold, and it turned out that female participation was not required to make money. Hollywood likes making money, so they stick to the formula they know works.

That can explain why we keep making movies without women, but not why we don't start making movies with women. They have tried that, too, but they don't make as much money.

Tomb Raider barely made its money back, Silent Hill lost money, Salt barely made money, Haywire lost money.

Resident Evil and Underworld made money, but they seem to be the exception. I could go on with female action movies that didn't pan out. Ultraviolet, Aeon Flux, Elektra, etc.

It's not that Hollywood doesn't periodically try, but they clearly don't get enough of a response to keep them coming.
 
2014-04-02 02:50:26 PM  

nmrsnr: The thing I have with the Bechdel test is that it's fine for dramas and comedies, which have a relatively gender-neutral audience, but women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies. That's the realm of men, especially 18-24 men. They want to see men shoot things and blow up, so that's what they get. When women start shelling out the money to see women shoot things and blow up, they'll get those movies, too.

/actually there is such a movie in the works, with Gina Carano, Michelle Rodriguez, and Katee Sackhoff. We'll see how that does.


It's funny you should mention action movies because both Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 passed the Bechdel Test and the latter had an audience that was 48% female.  So yes, women will go to see these movies.

The Avengers, on the other hand, fails the Bechdel Test and had an audience that was only 40% female.  Are the two related?  Probably not.  But blanket statements like "women aren't flocking to see big explosion action movies" are just plain wrong.
 
2014-04-02 02:51:49 PM  

someonelse: Theaetetus: browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.

FTA: The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.

It's remarkable how often people don't realize this, or choose to ignore it for the sake of advancing their narrative.


I said nothing more than that it might not pass a reverse Bechdel Test. You attached a narrative to it yourself.
 
2014-04-02 02:56:02 PM  

browntimmy: someonelse: Theaetetus: browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.

FTA: The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.

It's remarkable how often people don't realize this, or choose to ignore it for the sake of advancing their narrative.

I said nothing more than that it might not pass a reverse Bechdel Test. You attached a narrative to it yourself.


No I didn't. I didn't say anything about the content of your post.
 
2014-04-02 02:57:49 PM  

nmrsnr: Hollywood likes making money, so they stick to the formula they know works.

That can explain why we keep making movies without women, but not why we don't start making movies with women. They have tried that, too, but they don't make as much money.


The article says you're wrong on this point.

Tomb Raider barely made its money back
Worldwide gross of $274.7 million on a budget of $115m

Silent Hill lost money
$97.6m on a budget of $50m

Salt barely made money
$293.5m on a budget of $110m

Haywire lost money.
$33.3m on a budget of $23m

Resident Evil and Underworld made money, but they seem to be the exception.  I could go on with female action movies that didn't pan out. Ultraviolet,Aeon Flux, Elektra, etc.

Actually, it seems to only be those three that you're correct about.
 
2014-04-02 02:58:32 PM  
Correlation != Causation
 
2014-04-02 03:01:45 PM  
In fact, nmrsnr, here's the Action Heroine chart on Box Office Mojo. For many of them, you can click and see budgets.

Oh, and Elektra did make a profit, as it turns out. As did Ultraviolet, albeit only just barely.
 
2014-04-02 03:10:33 PM  
nmrsnr:   I could go on with female action movies that didn't pan out. Ultraviolet, Aeon Flux, Elektra, etc.


These are terrible movies and deserved no money. Alright, not terrible - just not my cup of tea. They just happened to be about women. Elektra is the companion movie to another that also didn't do so well - Daredevil.
 
2014-04-02 03:11:50 PM  

Theaetetus: browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.

FTA: The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.


There are other tests that can be applied as well:

The Ellen Willis Test - if you flip the genders, does the story still make sense? This one's usually applied to music.
The Sexy Lamp Test - If you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works, you're a hack.
The Mako Mori Test - there is a) at least one female character, b) who gets her own narrative arc, c) that is not about supporting a man's story. Note that you can pass this test and still fail the Bechdel Test (e.g. Pacific Rim).
 
2014-04-02 03:16:03 PM  

Theaetetus: nmrsnr: Hollywood likes making money, so they stick to the formula they know works.

That can explain why we keep making movies without women, but not why we don't start making movies with women. They have tried that, too, but they don't make as much money.

The article says you're wrong on this point.

Tomb Raider barely made its money back
Worldwide gross of $274.7 million on a budget of $115m

Silent Hill lost money
$97.6m on a budget of $50m

Salt barely made money
$293.5m on a budget of $110m

Haywire lost money.
$33.3m on a budget of $23m

Resident Evil and Underworld made money, but they seem to be the exception.  I could go on with female action movies that didn't pan out. Ultraviolet,Aeon Flux, Elektra, etc.

Actually, it seems to only be those three that you're correct about.


I was using US gross, but you're right, I should have checked worldwide.

I wonder which numbers producers think about, because in my head Salt wasn't a success, but apparently internationally it was.

That link also has Sucker Punch as being successful: $36M on a $19M budget. But I know that one was considered a dud in the US.

So maybe I'm wrong, or maybe the rate of returns on those films isn't seen as good enough. I am no longer sure what makes something a hit or not, because I was pretty certain those movies were not considered commercial successes.
 
2014-04-02 03:16:37 PM  
It's strange that there should be so few movies that pass the test these days.  Pretty much any film with Bette Davis or Joan Crawford would pass the Bechdel test.

It's really frustrating when you see films like The Avengers fail it.  It would have been so easy for Agent Hill and the Black Widow to have a five-second exchange about the airship being on fire, or to discuss which type of bandoliers cause too much chafing.
 
2014-04-02 03:18:25 PM  

Flappyhead: Better return on investment

Well duh.  Romantic comedies and dramas are cheap as hell compared to spring/summer blockbusters.  Adam Sandler isn't the most bankable man in Hollywood for nothing.


And if they ran this regression on television shows, it would be even more lopsided -- because most every reality show passes the Bechdel test, and those are even cheaper.

So, when we start to see "Keeping up with the Kardashians: The Movie, Part 8", thank feminism.
 
2014-04-02 03:19:59 PM  

nmrsnr: I wonder which numbers producers think about, because in my head Salt wasn't a success, but apparently internationally it was...

So maybe I'm wrong, or maybe the rate of returns on those films isn't seen as good enough. I am no longer sure what makes something a hit or not, because I was pretty certain those movies were not considered commercial successes.


Considering that they're making Salt 2, I think they considered it a success.
 
2014-04-02 03:24:44 PM  
someonelse:
Let's see. Today I've conversed with four other women irl. Our conversations have involved: the Milwaukee Brewers,


Technically this conversation would  fail the test, as Milwaukee Brewers are a bunch of men.
 
2014-04-02 03:28:23 PM  

gerrymander: And if they ran this regression on television shows, it would be even more lopsided -- because most every reality show passes the Bechdel test, and those are even cheaper.

So, when we start to see "Keeping up with the Kardashians: The Movie, Part 8", thank feminism.


Once again, since somebody clearly didn't read TFA:
The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.
 
2014-04-02 03:29:15 PM  
Why just last night I partook of a featurette that cast two young, attractive women as roommates who received a young gentleman who'd come to fix the cable.  They talked quite animatedly about an impressively large chicken that he apparently possessed.  It was quite humorous; it was obviously set in a sizeable city, and yet the man was raising poultry!  A quite enjoyable fish-out-of-water tale, yet my better half was completely uninterested and even dismissive of the plot.  This "Bechdel test" is quite obviously a farce.
 
2014-04-02 03:35:44 PM  

browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.


Lots of movies, including ones that you would think are strong feminist movies, don't pass the Bechdel test. At best, I would think this correlation might have to do more with stronger writing overall.
 
2014-04-02 03:40:08 PM  

Nine Hundred and Eight: someonelse:
Let's see. Today I've conversed with four other women irl. Our conversations have involved: the Milwaukee Brewers,


Technically this conversation would  fail the test, as Milwaukee Brewers are a bunch of men.


I can tell where you stopped reading.
 
2014-04-02 03:42:07 PM  

someonelse: Nine Hundred and Eight: someonelse:
Let's see. Today I've conversed with four other women irl. Our conversations have involved: the Milwaukee Brewers,


Technically this conversation would  fail the test, as Milwaukee Brewers are a bunch of men.

I can tell where you stopped reading.


Although Hank is technically a male, but I'm not sure if that should count. And it's not really in the spirit of the test.
 
2014-04-02 03:55:09 PM  

nmrsnr: Theaetetus: Your argument seems to be that women don't attend big action movies with women protagonists, so therefore big action movies with women protagonists don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, so therefore women don't attend them, so therefore they don't get made, etc.

Almost, but not quite.

The type of stories that are told in action movies are almost always based around military/police people, which until recently has been an exclusively male profession, and still is majority male. So when telling those stories, the default, based on history, is filling those roles with male characters. These stories sold, and it turned out that female participation was not required to make money. Hollywood likes making money, so they stick to the formula they know works.

That can explain why we keep making movies without women, but not why we don't start making movies with women. They have tried that, too, but they don't make as much money.

Tomb Raider barely made its money back, Silent Hill lost money, Salt barely made money, Haywire lost money.

Resident Evil and Underworld made money, but they seem to be the exception. I could go on with female action movies that didn't pan out. Ultraviolet, Aeon Flux, Elektra, etc.

It's not that Hollywood doesn't periodically try, but they clearly don't get enough of a response to keep them coming.


The Hunger Games movies were big violent blockbusters and they will have raked in billions at the box office by the time the series is done.
 
2014-04-02 03:56:12 PM  

Shedim: Theaetetus: browntimmy: Is interesting they point out how Gravity fails the test. Because I don't think it would pass a "two named men have a conversation that isn't about a woman" test either.

FTA: The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.

There are other tests that can be applied as well:

The Ellen Willis Test - if you flip the genders, does the story still make sense? This one's usually applied to music.
The Sexy Lamp Test - If you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works, you're a hack.
The Mako Mori Test - there is a) at least one female character, b) who gets her own narrative arc, c) that is not about supporting a man's story. Note that you can pass this test and still fail the Bechdel Test (e.g. Pacific Rim).


scarygoround.com
 
2014-04-02 04:06:36 PM  

Mad_Radhu: The Hunger Games movies were big violent blockbusters and they will have raked in billions at the box office by the time the series is done.


Yup. And that's why we're getting Divergent now. If it makes money, they make more of it.

I haven't been arguing that action movies shouldn't have women or be geared towards women, I've been saying why, at least up until now, they haven't been.

Dredd, one of my favorite action movies of the past few years, passes the Bechdel test. And I liked Haywire.
 
2014-04-02 04:17:20 PM  

nmrsnr: I haven't been arguing that action movies shouldn't have women or be geared towards women, I've been saying why, at least up until now, they haven't been.


But, I was pointing out that your argument is circular - if you don't make action movies geared towards women, then you don't get an audience of women; if you don't have an audience of women, then you don't bother making action movies geared towards them.  Except that's true for everything: if you didn't make action movies geared towards men, then you wouldn't get a male audience either; and vice versa. If you don't make movies  period, then you don't have an audience of movie goers; and if you don't have an audience of movie goers, why bother making any movies?

But yet, they do make movies generally and make action movies for guys. So, that tautology can't be the reason  why they weren't making action movies for women. Rather, it's because they believed that women wouldn't be interested in them, whether true or not (and, as we're seeing now, it's apparently not true at all). That's sexism.
 
2014-04-02 04:47:19 PM  

Theaetetus: But, I was pointing out that your argument is circular - if you don't make action movies geared towards women, then you don't get an audience of women; if you don't have an audience of women, then you don't bother making action movies geared towards them. Except that's true for everything: if you didn't make action movies geared towards men, then you wouldn't get a male audience either; and vice versa. If you don't make movies period, then you don't have an audience of movie goers; and if you don't have an audience of movie goers, why bother making any movies?

But yet, they do make movies generally and make action movies for guys. So, that tautology can't be the reason why they weren't making action movies for women. Rather, it's because they believed that women wouldn't be interested in them, whether true or not (and, as we're seeing now, it's apparently not true at all). That's sexism.


Except the argument isn't necessarily circular, though it might be self-sustaining.

There was a reason action movies started off male dominated, and yes, it has something to do with sexism, in that militaristic figures tend overwhelmingly to be men. There was also a reason why female-dominated action movies were not made, certainly in the 20s-50s women beating up men (or being beaten up by men) would not have been welcome in the censorship heavy Hollywood. This might have lead to a self-sustaining cycle of movie-making. The male-based action movies made money, and the female-based ones failed because they're different from the Hollywood formula that audiences expected.

This cycle might propagate itself well after Hollywood executives stopped caring about things like what is appropriate for a movie and just want to make money, but that doesn't make the argument itself tautologically circular. There is a reason for it's beginning, and a way to make it end: make wildly profitable movies based around women.

Maybe we're there now, maybe we're not.
 
2014-04-02 05:02:18 PM  
Has anyone mentioned that who gives a shiat?
 
2014-04-02 05:11:52 PM  

jaybeezey: Has anyone mentioned that who gives a shiat?


And yet you're here commenting. Your whiny-ass opinion is noted.
 
2014-04-02 05:16:15 PM  
The flaw is in how they did their analysis.

First up, movies that are more likely to pass the Bechdel test are dramas, maybe comedies. These are movies that have a huge ROI if they are hits, but a lot of them aren't hits. A lot of comedies and dramas sink quickly, even if they get to the theater in the first place.

So, by using data from the Bechdel test site, they're likely to get the movies that lots of women have seen as it's a user submitted data site. That is to say, Bridesmaids is in there, but Night in Rodanthe and Autumn in New York aren't in there.

A lot of my movie collection passes the Bechdel test. Mostly the ones featuring Nina Hartley.
 
2014-04-02 05:21:09 PM  
hooray for the first world problems.
 
2014-04-02 05:21:45 PM  

Needlessly Complicated: jaybeezey: Has anyone mentioned that who gives a shiat?

And yet you're here commenting. Your whiny-ass opinion is noted.


and the white knight shows himself.
 
2014-04-02 05:25:04 PM  
Anyway, you'd think big studio (action but not necessarily) films featuring women would be a bit more common. I mean, people seem to like women in action-oriented shows on TV... Xena, Buffy, Dollhouse, Alias, Bones (if that counts, I know it's mostly "procedural crime drama" but Bones is kind of bad ass)... Those were popular shows. I don't know, I guess I don't watch too many movies... probably cuz they mostly involve dudes and explosions and car chases. I'd watch female-centered action films if they weren't painfully stupid like "Catwoman." (Again, don't see a lot of movies.) (I did like "The Hunger Games." The book was better, tho.) I guess I'd watch more movies in general if they weren't mostly idiotic or completely depressing, but that's more of a comment about movies in general.

/I'd organize my thoughts better but I'm sleepy.
 
2014-04-02 05:29:14 PM  

Shedim: The Mako Mori Test - there is a) at least one female character, b) who gets her own narrative arc, c) that is not about supporting a man's story. Note that you can pass this test and still fail the Bechdel Test (e.g. Pacific Rim).


I'm not 100% certain  Pacific Rim passes the Mako Mori test. I mean, she  did have an arc, but everything about her character was defined by her male relationships- her surrogate father figure and her partner. Her arc was really built around the transition between those two relationships, with a little, "I have PTSD" thrown in for spice.
 
2014-04-02 05:36:40 PM  

Lady Beryl Ersatz-Wendigo: It's strange that there should be so few movies that pass the test these days.  Pretty much any film with Bette Davis or Joan Crawford would pass the Bechdel test.

It's really frustrating when you see films like The Avengers fail it.  It would have been so easy for Agent Hill and the Black Widow to have a five-second exchange about the airship being on fire, or to discuss which type of bandoliers cause too much chafing.


That's because drama has basically moved to TV. You look at the top 10 movies of 1981, it's got On Golden Pond and Chariots of Fire in there. The highest rated drama in 2013 was Gatsby at #18. In 2012, it was Lincoln at #13.

It's never pointed out that while film underrepresents women, a huge amount of TV drama is basically distilled estrogen.
 
2014-04-02 06:02:15 PM  
Shedim:
There are other tests that can be applied as well:

The Ellen Willis Test - if you flip the genders, does the story still make sense? This one's usually applied to music.
The Sexy Lamp Test - If you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works, you're a hack.
The Mako Mori Test - there is a) at least one female character, b) who gets her own narrative arc, c) that is not about supporting a man's story. Note that you can pass this test and still fail the Bechdel Test (e.g. Pacific Rim).


The advantage of the Bechdel Test is that it's binary - pass/fail.  "Does it have the traits listed?  Yes or no?"  The other tests, while interesting, always seem to have phrases that can be argued about, like what does "make sense" mean, or phrases like "significant role", and so one person can claim it passes while another says it fails.
 
2014-04-02 06:05:32 PM  
Well, the Bechdel test requires higher-than-average writing quality in general... not because of the woman thing, but because in many shiatty movies supporting characters never talk about anything other than what the main character is up to in general.

That's actually the main flaw in the logic of the test to begin with, it's so overly specific in its demands that if you apply a corresponding test of similar specificity to male characters (two male characters talk about something that isn't relationship or main-character related) you're barely going to have any movies pass it either.  The only reason so many movies pass the Bechdel is that people go out of their way to awkwardly shoehorn things in to shut the stupider feminists the fark up nowadays.

// Not that there aren't issues with stock character portrayals in movies, this just isn't really one of them.
// Oh, no, the supporting characters primarily support the story of the protagonist?  What a horrible injustice!
 
2014-04-02 06:15:20 PM  

Shedim: gerrymander: And if they ran this regression on television shows, it would be even more lopsided -- because most every reality show passes the Bechdel test, and those are even cheaper.

So, when we start to see "Keeping up with the Kardashians: The Movie, Part 8", thank feminism.

Once again, since somebody clearly didn't read TFA:
The Bechdel test isn't measuring whether a film is a model of gender equality. It doesn't certify that a movie is "good" when it comes to integrating women. And passing it doesn't mean that female characters are well written, play crucial roles in the plot or display meaningful depth of character.


This would be so much more convincing if the Bechdel test wasn't trotted out constantly as a test for gender equality -- including TFA. I'd say, "blame idiot feminists", but that would be redundant.
 
2014-04-02 06:45:19 PM  

Shedim: The Sexy Lamp Test - If you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works, you're a hack.


what if it makes the story better for all the wrong reasons
 
2014-04-02 10:33:11 PM  

sprawl15: Shedim: The Sexy Lamp Test - If you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works, you're a hack.

what if it makes the story better for all the wrong reasons


Then you're still a hack, just for different reasons.
 
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