In the last few weeks, the Bechdel Test has been getting quite a bit of press, particularly with awards season heating up and people eager to argue about movies in general. In case you don't know, it's a concept - derived from a cartoon by Alison Bechdel - that grades movies based on their inclusion of women as fully fledged characters rather than window dressing or plot fodder.
The criteria are pretty simple. The movie has to 1) have at least two female characters, 2) who must talk to each other, and 3) about a topic other than a man. It doesn't really address the quality of the movie as art at all, but it does reveal the deeply ingrained gender bias in most of our modern blockbusters (you know, those movies that are made almost exclusively for a male 17-35 year old audience).
Since this is part one of a multi-part series of posts, let's start with some of the biggies. Here are ten extremely well-known classic movies. Do they pass or fail? What does it mean - if anything - if they do? I'll let you make your own observations in the comments below, and then I'll recap the discussion in the next post. I'd love to get a robust conversation started to fuel the next several posts!
1) GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
2) IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
3) CITIZEN KANE (1941)
4) SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)
5) VERTIGO (1958)
6) ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
7) THE SEARCHERS (1956)
8) THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
9) SUNSET BLVD. (1950)
10) THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915)