Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pass! Pass?!

Are you familiar with the Bechdel Test? It is a test by which you can look at a movie's treatment of women. In my experience, women talk more than men most days. (Science has proved this too.) And women talk to men, but they dearly love to talk with other women. And they talk about their fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and male coworkers... but that's not ALL they talk about.

So, the Bechdel Test requires that a movie have:
  • Two female characters - with names!
  • The two women must talk TO each other directly...
  • and at least one of their conversations CANNOT be about a man.
  • (Read more here. The Bechdel Test is a not a test that proves a good movie, it's just one way to look at films' success at imitating life, and women in them purporting to live said lives.)
It is way tougher than you think, and John and I have amused ourselves lately thinking of movies we adore that don't pass the Test. (And some that do.)

So to prove that this is just a fun way of looking at the world from a perspective different than that of generations of screenwriters, movie executives, and the Industry of Cool leaders that permeates our lives, and not a guarantee of something high-quality...

... the other night I had a serious bad movie craving. I wanted to watch a totally awful popcorn flick. An old roommate of John and mine left behind a random collection of DVDs, and I sorted through them... Sherry Baby? No. Half Nelson? No way. Blue Crush? Getting closer. Bring It On? Closer still. But even worse? And the winner?

Coyote Ugly!

And to my shock, it passes the Bechdel Test! Not once, but TWICE!

There are two conversations, between two different pairs of named female characters, about life experiences they are planning or in the midst of, that do not mention men. Color me stunned... but heck, I should remember that Tyra can do anything. Fierce.


  1. I'd be willing to lay money that among mainstream Hollywood films, one movie in the top 10 for most passes of the Bechdel test would be Showgirls. Most of the conversations in that film revolve around women talking about brown rice and vegetables, nailcare or how to screw other women. Perhaps the Bechdel test gives you the extremes of feminism and misogyny in our culture.

  2. Zach brought this test to my attention a year or so (more?) ago and occasionally we get obsessed with it. Although obsession with it usually just ends in us being sad that there aren't more women in movies with actual names who talk with other actual named-characters about something not a man. Yay.