Movies, Pop Culture

It’s time to retire The Bechdel Test

"Is this film feminist?” is a question that deserves discussion, and oftentimes will not have a simple answer.

In 1986’s collection of her comic “Dykes to Watch Out For,” cartoonist Alison Bechdel wrote a strip about two women planning to go to the movies. One of the women tells her friend that she has a rule about movies: she won’t see a film unless it has at least two women in it who talk to each other about something other than a man. The last movie she was able to watch, she says, was Alien, because the two women in it “talk to each other about the monster.”

“Two women talk about non-guy-related things” isn’t exactly a high bar for female empowerment, which is why it’s fairly ridiculous that such a few number of films actually pass. Some of Hollywood’s most beloved films, such as “Star Wars: A New Hope” or the final installment of the “Harry Potter” franchise fail the test, bringing to light the abysmal state of female characters in media today. If one actually limited themselves to seeing films that only passed the test, they wouldn’t be able to watch very many films at all. In fact, that is exactly the punch line.

In recent years, The Bechdel Test has somehow become the ultimate method of gauging whether or not a film is feminist. The issue is that as soon as the joke becomes an end-all, be-all pass/fail test rather than a study in popular media, it stops working.

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