The Big Picture: Blecch, Dull Tests

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Blecch, Dull Tests

Moviebob discusses the Bechdel Test.

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The biggest thing that I think can be said about how well the Bechdel Test fails to rate female characters is this:

The Room technically passes the Bechdel test, whereas Fargo fails it.

So in another word, we should have a more modern movies related test?

EDIT- Geez I was kidding of course!

I'm glad you decided to address this issue. It's not that I uave anything against the idea of creating some kind of standard by which we can measure non-male-obsessed female characters in movies, but like Bob said it's beginning to undermine a lot of movies that I find myself liking recently.

Pacific Rim was a great example Bob brought up. I loved that movie and Mako's character especially, and the idea that she and the whole movie fail just because she's the only one bothers me a great deal.

I'd heard of this a while back, and a few of my friends and I started going over a list of movies that do pass it, but also have interesting female characters. We actually did come up with quite a lot of films that not only passed the test, but were really good. Several Pixar films made this list for instance.

I do like the idea of the Mako Mori test though. It is pretty rare for a female character to have her own narrative and story that still would have worked for the film even if the male character hadn't been there.

thejboy88:
I'm glad you decided to address this issue. It's not that I uave anything against the idea of creating some kind of standard by which we can measure non-male-obsessed female characters in movies, but like Bob said it's beginning to undermine a lot of movies that I find myself liking recently.

Pacific Rim was a great example Bob brought up. I loved that movie and Mako's character especially, and the idea that she and the whole movie fail just because she's the only one bothers me a great deal.

Agreed but then two questions remain. One, how do you take into account actual empowerment because I doubt that is empirical enough for a reliable test (seriously, there was a forum about if Bayonetta was a strong female character and it was indecisive to say the least, how do you apply that to movies.

Two, if the original intent of the rule was to illustrate that the representation of women is problematic then how do we actually fix it because it would be impossible to make government mandates or industry pressures to do so.

Thank you.

I don't know which group annoys me more. The ones that use the test as an absolute measure or the ones that get hilariously defensive at the slightest mention of the test.

Interesting...

I didn't know the Bechdel Test is akin to something on the level of HIMYM's Barney's Rules taken way too seriously. On the other hand, the video illustrates the problem with it: even when its an interesting indicator of popular culture in general, it says nothing about any single element, because its too generic.

Run Lola Run does not pass because the protagonist (female protagonist, that is) have very few lines. Lord of the Flies does not pass because it has no female characters...

Scarim Coral:
So in another word, we should have a more modern movies related test?

No, remember he said not everything can be math or empirical. Philosophy does not work like physics. To weigh something as it relates to a philosophy or political view requires you to examine the entirety of it look at those philosophies and politics and then discuss how it handles each. Saying a movie is OK or not OK based solely on the presence or absence of certain genders, objects or minorities with no view to how they are handled beyond do they talk about this one thing or not is not a way to measure movies. It was just an observant joke with a point at the time that has long since been made.

Hunter Grant:

Scarim Coral:
So in another word, we should have a more modern movies related test?

No, remember he said not everything can be math or empirical. Philosophy does not work like physics. To weigh something as it relates to a philosophy or political view requires you to examine the entirety of it look at those philosophies and politics and then discuss how it handles each. Saying a movie is OK or not OK based solely on the presence or absence of certain genders, objects or minorities with no view to how they are handled beyond do they talk about this one thing or not is not a way to measure movies. It was just an observant joke with a point at the time that has long since been made.

Yeah I know, I was kidding as I do agreed on the whole not overthinking it when it come to films or that film does NOT need to be measure in some kind of stats or data etc.

This was actually a good point, I'm surprised since I expected to scoff at your argument. But when you're right you're right.

Hunter Grant:

Scarim Coral:
So in another word, we should have a more modern movies related test?

No, remember he said not everything can be math or empirical. Philosophy does not work like physics. To weigh something as it relates to a philosophy or political view requires you to examine the entirety of it look at those philosophies and politics and then discuss how it handles each. Saying a movie is OK or not OK based solely on the presence or absence of certain genders, objects or minorities with no view to how they are handled beyond do they talk about this one thing or not is not a way to measure movies. It was just an observant joke with a point at the time that has long since been made.

Ehh... I believe he was being sarcastic.

Pacific Rim should pass the Bechdel test, GlaDOS talks to Mako about venting coolant.

Hit the nail on the head there Bob, although it probably could have been summarised more clearly. The Bechdel Test is not intended to judge individual movies on whether they meet some sort of feminism criteria, but rather to show a general trend of lacking female representation across the medium. To flip it around, I suspect very few movies would fail a reverse Bechdel Test where no two male characters had talked about something other than a woman, and most of those which do probably only feature very few characters to start with.

I heard about this test a while back and thought it was interesting but I had no idea peeps were taking it so seriously. Given the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of movies out there, this seems a little on the dumb.

thejboy88:
I'm glad you decided to address this issue. It's not that I uave anything against the idea of creating some kind of standard by which we can measure non-male-obsessed female characters in movies, but like Bob said it's beginning to undermine a lot of movies that I find myself liking recently.

Pacific Rim was a great example Bob brought up. I loved that movie and Mako's character especially, and the idea that she and the whole movie fail just because she's the only one bothers me a great deal.

I haven't seen Pacific Rim since it was in theaters (I'm planning on correcting that but the store was out of stock.)but Chernov Alpha was piloted by a man and a woman the "other" pilots weren't given as much background as Stryker's and Gypsy Danger's but Mako wasn't the only woman in the movie. (though I can't think of any other women in the movie that weren't apart of a crowd.)

I disagree with the notion that the test doesn't give due credit to movies with strong female characters. It still raises the interesting question of why there is usually only one strong female character. Most of the movies you referenced as having a strong female character had multiple strong male characters. When a single strong female exists among a whole cast of male characters, it still undermines women because that character is seen as "the woman" and the exception to the rule. I mean, why couldn't the Terminator look female? The Hobbit already incensed fans by spreading itself into 3 movies in a blatant and pathetic money grab. They made up so much bullshit for those movies, but Tauriel was a huge concession? Give me a break.

I wonder if Zero Dark Thirty passes? After all it is a movie in which nearly every conversation is about one male terror suspect or another (or just straight up about Bin Laden), yes the majority of it is told from over the shoulders of two female characters.

Holy crap. Gotta say, you're the last person I ever would have expected to break down the Bechdel Test and point out silly the praise of it is.

All excellent points and I do see a bit of the use you pointed out.

I like the idea of the Mako test. Tests like these should be more about generally strong writing.

Elesar:
The Room technically passes the Bechdel test

BRAEST CANSER

Truly, the strong female character conversation of the decade.

I had my suspicions about the Bechdel Test being utter bullshit when I saw Smurfs 2 on the pass list while Pacific Rim was considered a failure. I almost thought this was some sort of "legit" test made by some misguided people from some major organization. But it turns out to be just another idiotic abomination spawned from the shallow end of the Internet gene pool that missed the point of its original source material and picked up by a pack of bigger idiots who honestly think something like this had deeper meaning.

Simple data cannot tell you everything, folks. This is why experiments need further tests and research to reach a proper conclusion. This is also why most Hollywood movies and games suck because they're too stupid to realize that charts and polls cannot tell you what will make a successful movie. If you want better movies or games that don't solely cater to the white male dipshit demographic, there are better ways to go about it other than using a broken test.

I tend to hold the Bechdel Test in the same light as the Body Mass Index (BMI):

-Both are extremely simple to calculate and require no special training or equipment.

-There are far better ways to accomplish the goals of the test, but might require more time, effort, or specialized training.

-Both have their uses in illustrating very broad trends in large populations (issues in female representation in movies/the prevalence of obesity).

-Both have too many shortcomings and limitations to be used as some kind of value judgment when applied to individual subjects (your movie is not automatically feminist just because it passes the Bechdel Test/Having a BMI of 25 or higher doesn't necessarily mean you're at an unhealthy weight).

Yeah. I wish Bob had really emphasized the fact that the test doesn't say anything about the quality of individual movies but that it's useful if you want to look at general trends in film making. Maybe he could have made a 10 minute bonus video where he just repeats that point over and over again. Because I'm 80% sure, that we will yet again see an influx of people who don't know how the test works but are still infuriated by the test.

I always found the test rather stupid and faulty, but now that I know its actual purpose I guess it's pretty clever.

Something that seems more interesting to me is how many female characters have(or are) love interests compared to how many male characters have(or are) love interests.

manic_depressive13:
I disagree with the notion that the test doesn't give due credit to movies with strong female characters. It still raises the interesting question of why there is usually only one strong female character. Most of the movies you referenced as having a strong female character had multiple strong male characters. When a single strong female exists among a whole cast of male characters, it still undermines women because that character is seen as "the woman" and the exception to the rule. I mean, why couldn't the Terminator look female? The Hobbit already incensed fans by spreading itself into 3 movies in a blatant and pathetic money grab. They made up so much bullshit for those movies, but Tauriel was a huge concession? Give me a break.

Just me being nip picky but Terminator 3 had a female Terminator (half liquid/half solid) who was the only one to actually set the Skynet takeover into action while still failing to kill John(?) Connor but that's still 1 model out of all of them including the one who look like anything in T:2 and all the non-humanoid ones from the last one in the future though if the attempts to use time travel to kill Connor are in order from the future her production might not of happened yet.

But more on point I don't think Bob is dismissing that just that because it doesn't pass A doesn't mean it can't be better (In whole or in part)at B than ones that pass A.

I mean if someone could make a movie where the only women in it are killing zombies for 5 minutes have one conversation about anything but men,die and the rest of the movie go in a different direction for the rest of the film and technically pass the test but not have any female characters of interest. Of course the more the merrier but one is still better than non but that shouldn't be the limit and just a minimum for entry.

Lucane:

thejboy88:
I'm glad you decided to address this issue. It's not that I uave anything against the idea of creating some kind of standard by which we can measure non-male-obsessed female characters in movies, but like Bob said it's beginning to undermine a lot of movies that I find myself liking recently.

Pacific Rim was a great example Bob brought up. I loved that movie and Mako's character especially, and the idea that she and the whole movie fail just because she's the only one bothers me a great deal.

I haven't seen Pacific Rim since it was in theaters (I'm planning on correcting that but the store was out of stock.)but Chernov Alpha was piloted by a man and a woman the "other" pilots weren't given as much background as Stryker's and Gypsy Danger's but Mako wasn't the only woman in the movie. (though I can't think of any other women in the movie that weren't apart of a crowd.)

To pass a film requires two female characters TALK to each other about something other than a man it doesn't matter how many women or there roles.

Surprised how completely Bob missed the point here. The test is a tool to determine the quantity of female characters, not the quality. No one ever claimed differently, so not really sure what the point here is supposed to be.

This is why I love MovieBob... that opening was brilliant!

Zhukov:
Thank you.

I don't know which group annoys me more. The ones that use the test as an absolute measure or the ones that get hilariously defensive at the slightest mention of the test.

Seriously. It's a good yard stick to measure overall trends in the industry, but I thought it was established that that is all it was good for. But the same thing that happens when gender gets brought up happens here. There are two extreme camps shouting at each other, and the voices of all the moderates get drowned out.

I think it's kinda messed up that so many movies still fail, but I won't call a movie that does fail sexist.

Lucane:

thejboy88:
I'm glad you decided to address this issue. It's not that I uave anything against the idea of creating some kind of standard by which we can measure non-male-obsessed female characters in movies, but like Bob said it's beginning to undermine a lot of movies that I find myself liking recently.

Pacific Rim was a great example Bob brought up. I loved that movie and Mako's character especially, and the idea that she and the whole movie fail just because she's the only one bothers me a great deal.

I haven't seen Pacific Rim since it was in theaters (I'm planning on correcting that but the store was out of stock.)but Chernov Alpha was piloted by a man and a woman the "other" pilots weren't given as much background as Stryker's and Gypsy Danger's but Mako wasn't the only woman in the movie. (though I can't think of any other women in the movie that weren't apart of a crowd.)

I'll add to that a bit. Not only Cherno Alpha is driven by husband and wife, but wife is also the "dominant" member of the pair (just a little detail about the movie: pilot that operates right arm is the domminant one). This means that she has (at the very least) stronger mentality than her husband.

And regarding Mako: so, Pacific Rim did not "pass" this "test" because she didn't talk with, for example Sasha, about stuff that is not man? Or am I making a mistake here? Because if I am right, then it's a huge steaming pile of... Manure.

Kumagawa Misogi:

Lucane:

thejboy88:
I'm glad you decided to address this issue. It's not that I uave anything against the idea of creating some kind of standard by which we can measure non-male-obsessed female characters in movies, but like Bob said it's beginning to undermine a lot of movies that I find myself liking recently.

Pacific Rim was a great example Bob brought up. I loved that movie and Mako's character especially, and the idea that she and the whole movie fail just because she's the only one bothers me a great deal.

I haven't seen Pacific Rim since it was in theaters (I'm planning on correcting that but the store was out of stock.)but Chernov Alpha was piloted by a man and a woman the "other" pilots weren't given as much background as Stryker's and Gypsy Danger's but Mako wasn't the only woman in the movie. (though I can't think of any other women in the movie that weren't apart of a crowd.)

To pass a film requires two female characters TALK to each other about something other than a man it doesn't matter how many women or there roles.

I wasn't trying to say it passed the test just that Mako Mori being the only woman in it was inaccurate.

I hate to bring this up, but given Bob's position in the video I feel obligated to point this out.

The sort of thing Bob is so aggravated about here is EXACTLY the sort of thing that bugs me about Anita Sarkeesian and others regarding the DiD. Which is pretty ironic, all things considered.

It's one thing to point to point out a drought or excess of a thing as a symptom of a bigger issue, but to say that any example of such a thing is in itself an issue, regardless of context, is just ignorant and harmful to the discussion.

My god.... something is wrong with me. I agree with Moviebob on something. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME!?

I have liked Bob's last few Big Picture episodes that have dealt with feminism, and I usually(sometimes strongly) disagree with him on many of his political views. I think he has been doing a good job in episodes like this in calling out some of the pitfalls, faulty logic, and misdirected anger that can be sadly common in many feminist issues and feminists while not dismissing Feminism as a whole because of them.

Much of his commentary shows that he is in fact pretty feminist, and his ability to critique certain aspects of his own beliefs or at least of those who share his beliefs shows more intelligence and maturity than many of those who seem to think that "because Feminism" justifies any behavior or manner of thinking that can lead to very toxic situations and people that do more harm than good to their own cause such as the infamous "tumblr SJWs" and even Bob himself in some of his 'American Bob' videos.

It is kind of like an MRA saying "We need to be more about correcting the inequalities that affect men in our society and less about 'screw feminism'" or an Atheist saying "We need to be more about concentrating on the objective truths of our world and less about mocking those who do believe in a god or gods."


Personally I would like to see an episode commenting on the catch 22 of writing/portraying a female character breaking the mold of gender stereotypes and acting more "masculine" being called out as just writing a man and then adding breasts vs a female character that acts "feminine" called out as a sexist reinforcement of gender stereotypes.

Another episode I would like to see in a similar vein would be how feminism(or at least certain feminists) can sometimes becomes sexist after trying to break out of society's demand women to behave in a "feminine" way and fill feminine gender roles leads them to resent those attributes and roles in society and come to regard them as inferior, undermining both men and women who exhibit those traits or enjoy filling those roles

Thank you. Maybe now we'll get fewer people becoming absolutely rabid and trying to cry "censorship" every time the test is even mentioned...

... Ha, just kidding, this is the internet. No one's going to let little things like what the test is actually for prevent them from raging against "those damn feminazis" -.-

Oh sweet mother of god.

Bob....I disagreed with you from time to time. Sometimes, I wholeheartedly agreed.

Now I can't emphasize it enough:

T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!

No, honestly, I've been bringing up this point so often in discussions and I really feared no internet celeb would ever bring this up.
The Bechdel-Test was a joke. A satiric poke at the situation in the creative industry. THAT'S IT!

So of course some intellectually handicapped people thought to turn it into some form of Benchmark test for movies and lately even games.

I'm probably having more leisure than you in this regard but by now I even go so far as to say that anyone who actually considers a "Bechdel-rating" a viable way to judge a narrative piece of work in any qualitative regard is outright stupid, has not a shred of understanding for the writing process and just tries to simplify the world for their little minds.

And no, I'm not denying that the issue hinted at (!) in said comic exists or is an issue to consider but people who actually adopted the resulting "test" to judge movies (mainly in the context of "emancipation") lack understanding and intelligence to no lesser degree than those who created said issue.

I mean, if I were to write a movie, I could just put in a scene where two girls named Cindy and Britney talk 2 minutes about how great anal plugs are and then never mention those two girls again. There, Bechdel-test passed. Great work on gender equality, isn't it?

Gah, going into rant-mode again.

Anyway, thanks again for tackling that...thing.

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