in the month of International Women’s Day the roles of women in different spheres of life continue to be reconsidered. With the arrival of the Oscar 2023One that is put in the eye of the storm is the cinema.
There are several mechanisms by which the gender gap in the film industryone of them is through the Test Bechdelwhich consists of certain parameters on female characters that a film must meet to have a minimum inclusion.
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As established by this Test, for a film to have female representation real, it has to have some female characters, which should not specifically revolve around a man. That is why they must overcome these three key rules:
- There must be women with their own names.
- They must talk to each other.
- The subject has to be anything other than a man.
Although it seems something basic and easy to comply with, the truth is that currently several films fail to pass this test. Last year, out of the 10 Oscar nominated films, 4 of them failed to pass the three simple conditions.
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While, if this test is carried out in reverse, that is, applied to male characters, it can be seen that practically the entire film industry meets the requirements.
How did the Bechdel Test come about?
The origin of Bechdel test from 1985 when Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist and activist, wrote what would become one of her best-known strips. In her comic titled “Some careful lesbians” posted a snippet with the basic parameters of the test, titled “The Rule”.
In the strip you can see the two main characters going through a cinema, when one asks the other if she wants to go in, to which she replies: “I only see movies that meet three basic requirements. It has to have at least two women who talk to each other about anything that isn’t a man.”
Bechdel has clarified that the idea of these rules that were taken up worldwide are not hers, but her friend’s Liz Wallaceto whom he credits by mentioning it just below the comic strip.
Although for some this test sounds “ridiculous”the truth is that it is supported by filmmakers and even based on a renowned writer, and the cartoonist admitted that she was inspired by “a room of one’s own” from the author Virginia Woolf.
In this text, Woolf makes a feminist essay where she talks about women and literature. In the work he mentions the limited representation of women in literature, and like most of female characters are built around men.
Bechdel rescues this appreciation of Woolf and transfers it to the audiovisual industry. She highlighting the lack of female plots (independent of the male character) in film and series production, in the face of a preponderant male vision.
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With the passage of time, different critics and feminist activists modified the parameters. Thus, they added that women should have namesconsidering that if a character does not have it, it is because it is not relevant.
In addition, different women from the industry, such as actresses, screenwriters and directors, sought to incorporate new rules into the test, such as that the conversation must last more than a minute or that the protagonist does not end up dying, complicating the male narrative arc, although none achieved a great consensus.
The Bechdel Test does not measure the “feminism” of a film
The test It is not a test that is performed as a mathematical calculation to see what level of gender perspective owns a movie What this test allows is to see to some extent how much female representation exists and how much revolves around men.
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Passing this test does not necessarily mean that a film is inclusive, since the conversation could have been banal or have a sexist story behind it. Likewise, just because a film doesn’t pass the test doesn’t exactly mean it can’t have an inclusive narrative.
Some viewers argue that the lack of dialogue is because those movies have a man as central characterleading feminist filmmakers to argue that this is due to a lack of female lead roles at the cinema.
A recent study from the German statistics portal Statesmanmaintains that in 2022 only the 38% of the main characters were womenwhile the number of men in roles with more than one scene and instrumentals for the development of the film exceeded 60%.
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With the Bechdel Test and the statistics of the female figure in the film industry, it is not intended to eliminate the male role completely, but balance gender representation.
Despite this, the test is not enough to be able to measure inequalities in the cinema, since for this it is necessary much deeper analysisconsidering other statistics and elements of the narrative.
Which Oscar 2023 nominated films pass the Bechdel Test?
Of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars 2023, only three fail to pass the test. It should be noted that, even if more than seven pass the test, only three films are led by women and the vast majority have more male than female characters in their deliveries.
- No news at the front: does not meet any of the three test rules. Not one woman has lines in the film and the female characters only have secondary or extra roles.
- Banshees of Inisherin: meets the test. It features two named female characters, Siobhan and Mrs. McCormick, and they have a conversation that is not about men.
- Avatar: The Sense of Water: it failed to pass the Bechdel Test, although it meets two of the three requirements. In the film you can find different female characters that interact with each other, although it is about Jake, the protagonist.
- Elvis: he failed the test, meeting only one of the three rules. Although the film has several female characters with proper names, none of them interact with each other.
- Everything at once everywhere: another of the films that passes the test. This tape has four female characters with names, which interact with each other on issues such as life and the relationships that unite them.
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- The Fabelmans: the third film to meet Bechdel’s parameters. It features several named characters who even have a development in the story.
- Warehouse: the second film starring a woman also passes the test. Being a story centered on Lydia, the character is constantly related to other women who have their own names.
- Top Gun: Maverick: This is one of the most controversial since it meets the test, even though many consider it a mostly “masculine” film. Two female characters, mother and daughter, have small talks about homework and other things.
- The triangle of sadness: another of the films that complies with the basic rules of Bechdel. This film has several female characters who are related repeatedly on various topics, beyond men.
- They speak: Being a film starring mainly women, this film easily passes the Bechdel Test. It has a majority of female characters, who talk about various topics, such as faith.
It is expected that the trend of films with greater inclusion of female characters and workers will increase, since it is stipulated that from the 96th edition of the Oscars, in 2025new measures are implemented so that it is a requirement to comply with at least two of the three standards to be nominated in new categories.
will be five new shortlists that will seek to promote the increase of the representation of minorities on screen and in final production. These will be: “Screen Performance”, “Storytelling Themes”, “Creative Leadership and Project Team”, “Industry Access and Opportunities” and “Audience Development”.
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10 famous movies that do not pass the Bechdel Test
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Beakfast at Tiffany’s)
- Stars Wars original trilogy
- The Godfather, part I
- when harry met sally
- Regreso al futuro (Back to the Future)
- All James Bond movies
- Toy Story
- Trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings”
- The pirates of the caribbean saga
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows II
- The dark knight
- Iron Man
- The Avengers
RV / ED
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