Alison Bechdel’s watch-or-not test for movies came up here. Now experience the rule itself! (Courtesy of Comics Should Be Good!) Well, everything but the righthand edge of the rule; Blogger is stumping me here.
The Bechdel Rule
by Tom Crippen
The rule itself: A movie has to have at least two women, they have to talk to each other, and they have to talk to each other about something besides a man. The Liz Wallace being thanked in panel 1 is the friend of Bechdel’s who came up with the rule.
UPDATE: The cartoon is now a long way down screen. Some thoughts occurred to me.
First off, if you haven’t, read Noah on Dick and Fanny.
Second, here are some movies that flunk the Bechdel test: Sunset Boulevard, The Candidate, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, Dr. Strangelove (anything by Kubrick, I guess), It Happened One Night, possibly The Women, and any film based on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Plus a bunch of others. In Bechdel’s cartoon (still way below) you’ll see that she proposed the test so she could screen out big ’80s blockbusters about rampaging male destruction. It’ll do that, of course, but only along with a lot of other stuff. As a movie-selection tool, the test’s only value is this: it’s a compass pointing away from male-dominated society.
Personally, I’m not trying to get away from such films. What I like about the Bechdel rule is that it’s a quick, on-the-spot demonstration that yes, Hollywood product is male dominated. The movies don’t have to be about manly men doing dangerous things; you can make a movie about career, vanity, and self-deception, a movie with a fantastic part for a woman (all right, I’m talking about Sunset Boulevard), and it’s still going to be written and made by men and aiming at an audience that is at least as male as not. It will be male product, and that fact will show in many ways, a basic one being that the women won’t have much to do that doesn’t involve men. In real life women talk to each other about all sorts of stuff, in movies they don’t, and what happens in between is the movie industry.
In my opening list I threw in Gilbert and Sullivan, so we’re not talking just about movies. I’d guess that a majority of all mediums’ entertainment products would be ruled out under the test — a guess only.