The Bechdel Test

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Conversation is the best way to characterize anyone in any form of storytelling. What the conversation is about doesn't freaking matter. How the conversation is handled should be how the test should go.

Is the conversation in general only there as a way to progress the romance plot? It should be an indication that the women play little role, make your opinions.

Does the conversation happen to be about the romance, but it also has a lot of good lines and ways to identify the personalities of the women? Then good on the movie, make your opinions anyway, because the movie still could blow when it comes in the women department.

And please don't talk sexism here, I'm getting annoyed.

Woodsey:
It's hardly a catch-all rule, but it's useful enough in illustrating broad problems with representations of women.

If you're trying to use it as a criteria for in-depth analysis though, you're probably gonna have a bad time. I'm pretty sure Black Widow wouldn't pass it in The Avengers, but there's nothing wrong with her characterisation. (The poster is a different matter, admittedly.)

and yet weirdly the Thor movie passes the test. Go figure?

faefrost:

Woodsey:
It's hardly a catch-all rule, but it's useful enough in illustrating broad problems with representations of women.

If you're trying to use it as a criteria for in-depth analysis though, you're probably gonna have a bad time. I'm pretty sure Black Widow wouldn't pass it in The Avengers, but there's nothing wrong with her characterisation. (The poster is a different matter, admittedly.)

and yet weirdly the Thor movie passes the test. Go figure?

Thor was able to have a somewhat peculiar plot-structure (not quite in medias res, but close), as far as I remember - The Avengers didn't really have time for that. Once Thor lands I'm pretty sure that that's that for Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings. Still nothing wrong with their characterisations, though.

thaluikhain:

Helmholtz Watson:
Nobody in their right wind

But what about everyone else?

(Alright, might be being overly flippant here)

Come on now, even you have to admit that they did a decent job with that movie and at no point were any of the female characters stereotypically "weak". The only female character that people might not like is the little British girl, but even that's just being really picky.

As far as I'm able to figure out, the Bechdel test was supposed to show how many movies don't do the thing in the test...
All I had to add.

Well... besides this:
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/1459/bechdels-law
Felt it was appropriate.

thaluikhain:

electric_warrior:
It's a crap test. It's entirely possible for a film to have a strong, realistic female protagonist, who might be a president or military commander or something, who never has any meaningful interaction with another female character about anything other than a man. Yet, a silly chick flick where everyone just wants to get married to a nice handsome man could have a brief conversation about tampons between two women and pass the test.

There is no way to quantitatively measure something as qualitative as the role someone plays in a film.

Probably why the test has nothing to do with it, as explained in that clip and several times already in this thread. Again, it is not about whether a movie is good and bad in of itself, it is about noticing a trend in movies as a whole.

But if it cannot say anything about the merits of the film itself, what can it say about movies as a whole? If you want to judge the portrayal of women in films in terms of raw numbers, then the Bechdel test is a good test, but if you actually want to look at the way they are portrayed and the way they act, then it isn't at all good. So yeah, it illustrates trends, but very vague trends that aren't all that useful.

Again, a series of serious dramas and films with strong female protagonists could fail the test while a series of fluffy romcoms could pass despite being distinctively more patronising and lacking in positive role models. The bechdel test can tell us how many women were talking to other women, but not the heft of their role or how important they were to the plot. As such, any conclusions you can draw from it are pretty hollow.

Meh, I prefer a different test for movies and the like - If your female character can be replaced by an sexy carbon rod and the story doesn't change significantly, you fail the test. If replacing the female character with the sexy carbon rod does elicit a significant change in the story - Congratulations! You know how to write characters that aren't stupid, inane or completely and utterly pointless!

Bonus to this test is that you can apply it to everyone in the story as well - if all your characters can be replaced by sexy carbon rods and nothing changes, you might want to rethink your career as a writer.

The Bechdel Test plays absolutely no role in how much I enjoy or dislike a movie or how "trendy" something has become (or becoming). There is a lot more works of media than can be covered by a simplified set of rules.

It has no meaningful relevance to anything or anyone.

Unless of course you're a radical/extreme feminist, in which case you will already find the very air you breathe filled with sexism/misogyny so I can't help you there :P

Arent most of the writters men or something? It kind of makes sense that they might not try to write women dialog.

See Seven Psychopaths were they lampshade that.

I think it's a useful test in showing the trends, or looking at movies that have a large cast and a lot of dialogue (like LOTR).

It's like a starting point for criticism, or pointing out something that easily goes unnoticed.
It's not a simple test for misogynism or whether the movie is feminist or good.

electric_warrior:

Again, a series of serious dramas and films with strong female protagonists could fail the test while a series of fluffy romcoms could pass despite being distinctively more patronising and lacking in positive role models. The bechdel test can tell us how many women were talking to other women, but not the heft of their role or how important they were to the plot. As such, any conclusions you can draw from it are pretty hollow.

Well, it does take into account of female characters having characterization outside of their relationships to men.

josemlopes:
Arent most of the writters men or something? It kind of makes sense that they might not try to write women dialog.

See Seven Psychopaths were they lampshade that.

That's why when I write stuff all of my characters are female. Because men are just so weird with their alien thought-processes and odd language.
Almost like they aren't human.

That's why when I write stuff all of my characters are female. Because men are just so weird with their alien thought-processes and odd language.
Almost like they aren't human.

Have to leave this here...

I think the test is more like a Litmus test for movies in general than for one movie in particular.
Where you would use it to test if there is a problem, rather than test for a specific problem.

Okay, so woman are not represented well or enough in films.
Trying to fulfilling the Bechdel does not fix a film or make it non-sexist.

Performing the test on a wide range of movies will give you an indicator that something might be wrong and deserves more analysis.

Dangit2019:
Ah yes, the Bechdel test. When it was made, it was to make a point about women's gross representation in movies, and now some people actually take it completely at face value.

Look, there are so many variables to decide what a good representation of women in a movie is. Fuckin' Before Sunrise doesn't pass a single aspect of the test, because it was just Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke playing layered characters talking to each other and almost no one else. It still gave a perfectly fine representation of women.

It's a fun little joke and all, but matters like these can't really be accounted for accurately by a cute little rule of thumb.

What makes it funnier is the number of people who take it seriously enough that when movies they don't like pass, they seek to extend the conditions of the test to make it fail.

Or even better, when they start looking for reasons to fail a movie. For example, I once read an argument about whether or not two female characters talking about a clue written on a photo counted or not. The issue was that it was a photo of a group of men, but they weren't talking about the people in the photo, but what was written on it. The movie was SAW 2.

Or my personal favorite, listening to people engage in some incredibly convoluted mental gymnastics to make Sucker Punch fail their modified Bechdel test, while still allowing something else to pass.

electric_warrior:
But if it cannot say anything about the merits of the film itself, what can it say about movies as a whole? If you want to judge the portrayal of women in films in terms of raw numbers, then the Bechdel test is a good test, but if you actually want to look at the way they are portrayed and the way they act, then it isn't at all good. So yeah, it illustrates trends, but very vague trends that aren't all that useful.

Again, a series of serious dramas and films with strong female protagonists could fail the test while a series of fluffy romcoms could pass despite being distinctively more patronising and lacking in positive role models. The bechdel test can tell us how many women were talking to other women, but not the heft of their role or how important they were to the plot. As such, any conclusions you can draw from it are pretty hollow.

Well, yes, but that was the point. A quick and easy way to obtain raw numbers. Any attempt to go any deeper than that would be much more complicated, and very subjective.

In of itself, it was never meant to be very insightful, just to illustrate one point.

torno:
Huh, I've never heard of this test and you know what?
I think more films should throw this little criteria in. Not *all* movies from here on out, just more. I would say "all", but then my favorite movie of all time doesn't make the cut.
Anyway.
Yeah, I could do with more movies throwing in those three little check-boxes.

You really don't want to tread down this dark path; forcing directors/studios to follow a checklist of "xyz must be included in 'most' movies" will do far more harm than good. Simply forcing women into movies via checklist will not give them the true and honest representation that's needed; the story has to be crafted, from the beginning, with them in mind. Coming at the writers with a checklist and being all "hey your script is good and all but it would be 1000% better if it had, like, 2 women in it, talking about tampons or periods or whatever women talk about, k?"

I mean... really. You know that's what's going to happen with that checklist approach.

AuronFtw:

torno:
Huh, I've never heard of this test and you know what?
I think more films should throw this little criteria in. Not *all* movies from here on out, just more. I would say "all", but then my favorite movie of all time doesn't make the cut.
Anyway.
Yeah, I could do with more movies throwing in those three little check-boxes.

You really don't want to tread down this dark path; forcing directors/studios to follow a checklist of "xyz must be included in 'most' movies" will do far more harm than good. Simply forcing women into movies via checklist will not give them the true and honest representation that's needed; the story has to be crafted, from the beginning, with them in mind. Coming at the writers with a checklist and being all "hey your script is good and all but it would be 1000% better if it had, like, 2 women in it, talking about tampons or periods or whatever women talk about, k?"

I mean... really. You know that's what's going to happen with that checklist approach.

Well, I guess "criteria" was the wrong way to put it.
I think a better way to say it is that it would be nice if more filmmakers gave a little more thought to this test when making a movie.

The only merit of that clip was to show how old Mark Kermode looks and due to the content of it, possibly senile.
I remember when he stuck to what he was good at.

FreedomofInformation:
The only merit of that clip was to show how old Mark Kermode looks and due to the content of it, possibly senile.
I remember when he stuck to what he was good at.

Are you really that anti-feminism that a guy explaining what the Bechdel test is after being asked what it is offends your sensibilities? Did I miss the part where he said a movie needs to pass it to be good? Was it before or after he explicitly said the opposite? You don't even think it's remotely odd that with the genders reversed it can be applied to almost every mainstream movies within living memory? I can think of one off the top of my head, 500 Days Of Summer, which is actually one of my favourites, so there's surely more but obviously that's the one that would spring to mind. But it's such a challenge to find movies that pass the test for women? No one's saying a movie needs to pass to be good, hell no one's even saying it has to pass to be a good representation of women.

Stuck to what he's good at? You mean criticsim and analysis? Yeah, it's not like the guy has a PhD in English or anything.

OlasDAlmighty:
What about movies that are set in time periods where women weren't supposed to speak up? Would you blame them for not having vocal female characters even though it's simply a reality of that period?

What about war movies? The US military used to be men only.

I know certain parts of the internet would. And honestly, this is something that comes up in my day to day (I'm a history major) and I can not began to even count the number of water bottles and other assorted objects that I've lost to chucking them across the classroom at people who would rather hold up class, arguing about how they think that it's offensive that they need to learn about how women used to be marginalized to an extreme degree.

OT: I hate the Bechdel Test down to my very soul. I don't know if it's just my school or what, but I've been stuck in so many history classes with people, who during a movie (usually a documentary of some type), will raise their hand and complain about how the documentary doesn't pass the Bechdel Test. And then the six or so ACTUAL history majors (history is an incredibly hard program to get into at my school) will usually stare at that person with the most condescending look that we can, because for Christ's sake, it's a freaking documentary about the Civil War!!

TL;DR: Basically, people who take that test too seriously are the bane of my existence and I hate the fact that I have to deal with them on a day to day basis.

leviathanmisha:
OT: I hate the Bechdel Test down to my very soul. I don't know if it's just my school or what, but I've been stuck in so many history classes with people, who during a movie (usually a documentary of some type), will raise their hand and complain about how the documentary doesn't pass the Bechdel Test. And then the six or so ACTUAL history majors (history is an incredibly hard program to get into at my school) will usually stare at that person with the most condescending look that we can, because for Christ's sake, it's a freaking documentary about the Civil War!!

You mean the Civil war in general, or just the militaries involved? Women were involved in the former, if not really with the latter.

The Bechdel test obviously has its limitations in some contexts. Films like Master and Commander or Das Boot "fail" the test, but it would make little sense for such films set in historically exclusively male environments to pass the Bechdel in the first place. There's also films which are obviously designed to appeal to chiefly male or female audiences (e.g- action films and rom-com's) so the sex ratio's arn't going to be 50:50, and there's less of a chance of same-gender dialogue.

It is however a useful test to apply to films to examine the quality and depth of female characters. There's a tendency for female characters to be written in such a way that they exist only to satisfy the romantic interest of the male lead, as opposed to having their own motivations and ambitions, which makes them one-dimensional characters. Partially for this reason, the gender character ratio's tend to be skewered towards men. Perhaps because the majority of screen writers and directors tend to be men, so there's less female to female dialogue which would otherwise build their character. It's also good way to check wherever the story appeals to both genders. Generally, i think it's better if a story can appeal to both genders because it appeals to a much wider audience.

It's not without it's limitations, but if applied in the correct context it's a useful critical tool.

Just gonna repeat ad nausium that it indicates a trend in film-making on the whole, not the validity of the film itself.

In spite of myself I do find myself working out if films pass or fail. What I tend to do though is add a few more categories:

Pass - as per the test

Technical Pass - not as good as a pass, stuff where it only passes because of a brief and inane conversation between the female lead and a female extra playing a coffee vendor or similar.

Technical Fail - not as bad as a fail, covers circumstances like the film focusing strongly on one or two characters (Moon for example), or random stuff the female character being mute or something. Not used to justify larger all-male casts except in the case of historical dramas or similar.

Fail - as per the test

It makes it a slightly better measure than the original test, though you still get some glaring exceptions.

Images:
Watch the following video...

Now, we're all on the same page, what do you think about the Bechdel test and film? Can you think of a better test for the same purpose? What well loved films can you name that fulfil or don't fulfil its criteria.

Aaaaand so on...

I have a problem... I usually watch action or sci-fi movies. Two well known male genres. I'm fairly certain i could name a lot if i had more "feminine" tastes.

But i could already bring up GI Joe Retaliation (saw it recently so my memory is fresh enough to be 100% sure it passed the test). A typical testosterone movie and yet it easily passed. Pointless test is pointless if you ask me.

Azurelord707:
Well... besides this:
*link snip*
Felt it was appropriate.

You sure you can post those types of links on the Escapist? I'm not going to argue it's relevancy as I refuse to listen to it, but you probably should browse the rules of conduct and evaluate your account longevity based on that comments existence.

Comicon may be cut to 45 minutes or less, but anime is filled with many female characters that have some good conversations about things other than men.

Eva (Asuka, Rei, Misato and Ritsuko), Madoko Magica ( Mami, Madoka and the rest of the girls excluding QB), Attack on Titans etc.
Also Maria sama ga miteru, Galaxy Angels, Hetai Ouji, Sakura so, Higurashi, P4 all have multiple female characters that talk to each other alot about fighting evil, solving crimes etc.

Even One Piece, Bleach, naruto have enough charaters and dialogue to pass the test.
But does it make it any less male oriented than hollywood movies that fail the test?

Now it makes me wonder if maybe anime so over sexist that it is less sexist in a weird way.

Images:
Can you think of a better test for the same purpose?

I think we'd be better off not dedicating time to arbitrary rulesets to define movies and other media in the first place. After all, a feminist movie can fail this and a misogynist movie can pass it. Incidentally, despite what is said in the video, the characters are not required to even be named. There are many variations, including ones that dictate the length of the conversation, but the basic test doesn't require much. In fact, the test's threshold is ridiculously low, which I imagine is why it's used in the first place: with how low it is, you'd think more movies would pass it. At the same time, it's probably not telling anyone who pays attention to "The Rule" anything they don't already know: Women are underrepresented in media and generally only characterised as it relates to men.

That second part can be kind of tricky, though, as a lot of characterisation "tropes" are already built around that concept. People treat it as a paradigm shift when it probably shouldn't be that hard.

Taken as it was earliest used, though, it's probably the best test available to demosntrate what people attempted to demonstrate by adopting it: that women don't really matter much in most movies.

Dangit2019:
Ah yes, the Bechdel test. When it was made, it was to make a point about women's gross representation in movies, and now some people actually take it completely at face value.

Look, there are so many variables to decide what a good representation of women in a movie is. Fuckin' Before Sunrise doesn't pass a single aspect of the test, because it was just Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke playing layered characters talking to each other and almost no one else. It still gave a perfectly fine representation of women.

It's a fun little joke and all, but matters like these can't really be accounted for accurately by a cute little rule of thumb.

Actually, it'd be better if people did take it at face value, as it wasn't intended to represent the strength of the women involved or the relative feminist value, or anything even remotely close.

TehCookie:
Sometimes I just want to see a B action movie with one-liners and explosions.

And what a shame that vaginas are mutually exclusive with both one-liners and explosions, or this could be readily rectified with virtually no effort.

torno:

Yeah, I could do with more movies throwing in those three little check-boxes.

Are you a Jim Sterling fan?

Genocidicles:
I don't think it's a good indicator of female inclusion or whatever the hell it's for.

A film could have two awfully written female characters briefly talk to each other about shopping and pass, or a have multiple, amazing female characters that never talk to each other and fail.

Case in point: Twilight passes.

ninjaRiv:
Anita Sarkeesian did a bit about it, actually. She misses the point but not as badly as some of her critics would want.

she's done more than one. I'm sort of waiting to see her apply it to video games, too. You know it's coming. The thing about this is, her base explanation shows that she gets it (She even points out that this is not a feminist measuring stick, for example). However, pretty much everything else goes off the rails.

direkiller:

Any test Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS can pass but Star wars can't should not be considered a benchmark for judging if a film is sexist.

It's not about whether or not a film is sexist. As Kermode points out, a movie can fail and still have strong female protagonists (much more useful to feminism than whether two women talk about shoes or the like).

However, when you consider Star Wars only has like two non-stripper women in it (cookie for the reference)....

blackdwarf:

A better test? Maybe: can you describe this character in more than three sentences?

Probably a more useful application of characterisation.

generals3:

I have a problem... I usually watch action or sci-fi movies. Two well known male genres. I'm fairly certain i could name a lot if i had more "feminine" tastes.

But i could already bring up GI Joe Retaliation (saw it recently so my memory is fresh enough to be 100% sure it passed the test). A typical testosterone movie and yet it easily passed. Pointless test is pointless if you ask me.

Given that the punchline of the cartoon that originated it was "The two women talk about the monster", I don't think your example actually contradicts anything.

leviathanmisha:

TL;DR: Basically, people who take that test too seriously are the bane of my existence and I hate the fact that I have to deal with them on a day to day basis.

Are they aware of where it came from? I think it's useful in talking about the industry, but I'm weirded out by the number of people who talk about it as though it was proposed in some academic setting rather than as part of a comic strip that was aiming for humour.

Images:
Watch the following video...

Now, we're all on the same page, what do you think about the Bechdel test and film? Can you think of a better test for the same purpose? What well loved films can you name that fulfil or don't fulfil its criteria.

Aaaaand so on...

The test almost works but it just fails.

A woman can give her perspective, be a central character and drive the plot all without speaking to another woman.

My go to example is Misery. Long story short, a male author gets rescued by a huge (female) fan of his. She turns out to be unstable and keeps him in her house as a prisoner forcing him to write a new book.

Those two people are pretty much the entire focus of the story (although they added a few new minor characters for the movie version). It fails the Bechdel test, hell it would fail the reverse bechdel test (two men talk to each other about something other than a woman) if it weren't for a few lines.

electric_warrior:

But if it cannot say anything about the merits of the film itself, what can it say about movies as a whole?

That women are grossly underrepresented? Strong women still tend to be the exception instead of the rule, and the reason that you don't see a lot of movies passing this test is because there are few significant female roles. Further, even strong women and well-written women tend to fail the test because they have strongly male-driven motivations, so it's still telling if you have a well-written woman whose raison d'etre is purely "because men."

Now, that can be a tricky one, as men make up roughly half the population. However, the fact that so many of the already meager characters still fit this niche and fail part three and one of the major underlying cultural connotations is significant.

Woodsey:

Thor was able to have a somewhat peculiar plot-structure (not quite in medias res, but close), as far as I remember - The Avengers didn't really have time for that. Once Thor lands I'm pretty sure that that's that for Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings. Still nothing wrong with their characterisations, though.

Of course, this is one of the problems with the test. You could literally write one conversation to fulfill the "requirement" and be done with it. Even the most strict version of the test only requires a sixty second conversation. You can have one sixty second conversation between two named women and then forget about them. Not that they did THAT in Thor. Just saying they could.

Shanicus:
Meh, I prefer a different test for movies and the like - If your female character can be replaced by an sexy carbon rod and the story doesn't change significantly, you fail the test.

Why does it have to be a rod? SEXIST!

...Just kidding.

josemlopes:
Arent most of the writters men or something? It kind of makes sense that they might not try to write women dialog.

See Seven Psychopaths were they lampshade that.

This is generally a misconception. It may work for film, but I doubt it.

In fact, though this was originally applied to film, the fact that it's pretty standard in other media would indicate it's more than just "men are writing it."

Lieju:

That's why when I write stuff all of my characters are female. Because men are just so weird with their alien thought-processes and odd language.
Almost like they aren't human.

Men are so hard to figure out. Why can't they just think normally like normal people?

>.>

Schadrach:

Or my personal favorite, listening to people engage in some incredibly convoluted mental gymnastics to make Sucker Punch fail their modified Bechdel test, while still allowing something else to pass.

This is part of the problem with people trying to use it for more than what it is. Most of this comes from trying to rectify the Bechdel Test as a test for feminism or positive female role models or whatever. None of which applies.

Nickolai77:
The Bechdel test obviously has its limitations in some contexts. Films like Master and Commander or Das Boot "fail" the test, but it would make little sense for such films set in historically exclusively male environments to pass the Bechdel in the first place.

fortunately, there's no imperative for those movies to pass.

direkiller:

"Can you think of a better test?"

I can try:

Is there a reason this charter is a woman?
If the answer is something along the lines of boobs then the movie fails.
If you genuinely can't answer the movie gets a pass with a gold star

That is a pretty good test there. I like it. It asks why the character has the trait of a specific gender in the first place, thereby sort of revealing the initial flaw of presuming a female character has to have a justification for being female in the first place. If it is boobs, pretty obvious why that is terrible. But if it doesn't really have a reason, it shows that the characters are just characters with a hodge-podge of various traits, gender included.

Father Time:

A woman can give her perspective, be a central character and drive the plot all without speaking to another woman.

Of course, the Bechdel Test doesn't address whether she is a strong character, central to the plot, or anything. To say it fails because you don't understand what the premise is kind of asinine.

Pretty much every definition of the Bechdel Test, including the video in the very post you quoted, addresses this. Which, as the author intended posting it to put us all on the same page, makes it especially weird.

Does it not concern you to not understand what you're talking about, or is it intentional?

Zachary Amaranth:

ninjaRiv:
Anita Sarkeesian did a bit about it, actually. She misses the point but not as badly as some of her critics would want.

she's done more than one. I'm sort of waiting to see her apply it to video games, too. You know it's coming. The thing about this is, her base explanation shows that she gets it (She even points out that this is not a feminist measuring stick, for example). However, pretty much everything else goes off the rails.

Probably a more useful application of characterisation.[/quote]

I agree, she does get it better than most people. I'm one of the few who don't seem to hate her guts so I'm definitely not using it as an excuse to call her out at all. But it's almost like... "Close but no cigar."

Like other people already said: the bechdel test is a rather basic tool, that is useful as long as you keep it many limitations in mind. So, as always, the problem is not the test itself, but people (on both side) who misunderstand/misuse it.

But what i find much more interesting is the difference in outcome when applying it to films or tv shows. Tv shows have a much better record of female representation than films and the question is why. If one could find the cause of this difference one would have a better understanding of whats the cause of the problem in films and how to tackle it. Is the writing staff more diverse? Do tv shows make it easier to incorporate more characters (which in turn leads to more female characters) because there is simple more time? Is there are difference in audience? I don't know, but it would be really interesting to find out :-)

broca:
Like other people already said: the bechdel test is a rather basic tool, that is useful as long as you keep it many limitations in mind. So, as always, the problem is not the test itself, but people (on both side) who misunderstand/misuse it.

But what i find much more interesting is the difference in outcome when applying it to films or tv shows. Tv shows have a much better record of female representation than films and the question is why. If one could find the cause of this difference one would have a better understanding of whats the cause of the problem in films and how to tackle it. Is the writing staff more diverse? Do tv shows make it easier to incorporate more characters (which in turn leads to more female characters) because there is simple more time? Is there are difference in audience? I don't know, but it would be really interesting to find out :-)

Actually no, the problem with the test is that it's entirely useless and it's use is as a consequence in itself misleading. If you use a test you present it as being useful, which it is not. On top of that many people seem to constantly suffer from tunnel vision. What I mean with that is that they tend to only look at specific parts of the movie industry and extrapolate it to the entire industry. The same is often being done in discussions about Videogames. You can't just look at the typically male movies and somehow conclude: "there is a problem with the movie industry".

generals3:

broca:
Like other people already said: the bechdel test is a rather basic tool, that is useful as long as you keep it many limitations in mind. So, as always, the problem is not the test itself, but people (on both side) who misunderstand/misuse it.

But what i find much more interesting is the difference in outcome when applying it to films or tv shows. Tv shows have a much better record of female representation than films and the question is why. If one could find the cause of this difference one would have a better understanding of whats the cause of the problem in films and how to tackle it. Is the writing staff more diverse? Do tv shows make it easier to incorporate more characters (which in turn leads to more female characters) because there is simple more time? Is there are difference in audience? I don't know, but it would be really interesting to find out :-)

Actually no, the problem with the test is that it's entirely useless and it's use is as a consequence in itself misleading. If you use a test you present it as being useful, which it is not.

After giving it some more thought, i do think it had primary use some time ago as a tool for showing that there might be a problem which requires further research (so it's a bit like qualitative research: more useful for determining new research areas then for the research itself), while today better methods should be used. So, i agree that it shouldn't be used today but still would say that it had it uses.

generals3:
On top of that many people seem to constantly suffer from tunnel vision. What I mean with that is that they tend to only look at specific parts of the movie industry and extrapolate it to the entire industry. The same is often being done in discussions about Videogames. You can't just look at the typically male movies and somehow conclude: "there is a problem with the movie industry".

Which is exactly why i wrote that one has to keep in mind the serious limitations of the test. Using the test on male targeted films to make a point about all films would be a prime example of misusing it. But of course thats not really a problem with the test but with people that don't understand/care about test design and draw conclusions for populations from samples that don't reflect them enough.

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