The Bechdel Test

Posted by – October 9, 2011

This article on women characters in movies – skip to the end – is very funny. I think her Ethereal Weirdo is my favorite, although I will admit to having women like her. They’re usually stoners. I’ve always thought of her as the Cortazar Hopscotch fantasy woman, because I dated a guy who actually admitted, out loud, that he fell in love with the woman in that novel when he read it.

This girl can’t be pinned down and may or may not show up when you make concrete plans with her. She wears gauzy blouses and braids. She likes to dance in the rain and she weeps uncontrollably if she sees a sign for a missing dog or cat. She might spin a globe, place her finger on a random spot, and decide to move there. The Ethereal Weirdo appears a lot in movies, but nowhere else. If she were from real life, people would think she was a homeless woman and would cross the street to avoid her. But she is essential to the male fantasy that even if a guy is boring he deserves a woman who will find him fascinating and perk up his dreary life by forcing him to go skinny-dipping in a stranger’s pool.

But no post about women in film is complete without Bechdel’s Test for Women in Movies:

Some days it’s hard to come up with any that do pass the test. Help me out, readers?

4 Comments on The Bechdel Test

  1. Diane Frank says:

    How about “The Help”. If the book is any guide, lots of the dialogue isn’t about men. And there are a lot of women characters…many more than 2.

  2. Kimberly Kael says:

    Going straight for some animated favorites: “The Incredibles” has a strong mother-daughter bond with real conversations. “Lilo & Stitch” features a pair of sisters who talk about everything. “Coraline” makes the cut despite having prominent women whose actual names aren’t prominent (her mother, father, other mother, and other father are treated more or less equally in that respect.)

    It’s much, much harder to find live action examples that wouldn’t be automatically classified as chick flicks.

  3. divadarya says:

    I think Archetype is the right word indeed. if that dude Jung is to be believed, “The weirdo” is a trickster form of the anima at her most benign. She isn’t a siren who is going to crash the poor guy(s) on the rocks, but a random roll of the cosmic dice who helps nerdy(an allegory for “average”, IMHO) guys find their inner drifter/wild man. A much more interesting character than “The Bad Girl” in some ways because the guy may not be in for trouble/adventure but things are sure as hell going to be different.
    Would this be Ally Sheedy in “Breakfast Club”?

  4. carasande says:

    WALL-E!?! The main characters aren’t male or female.

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