test your movies!

Sunday afternoon my husband and I attended an appreciation reception for community theater volunteers. (To clarify, I was the volunteer being appreciated and my husband was … my husband.) The reception was held in the basement of a downtown restaurant, otherwise known as The Place Where I Bared My Belly and Danced. This time I did not dance. Instead, I parked myself on a barstool and visited, ate, and drank. I sometimes even did all three at once because I’m coordinated like that.

Anyway, while sitting on my barstool, I got to talking with some friends about the Boyhood movie I had taken my son to see (recommend!) and that got us on the discussion of movies and plays. Or maybe we got on that discussion because we were at a gathering for community theater nerds? Whatever.

Anyway! In the midst of the drinking and eating and talking about movies, my friend said, “Oh! Have you heard of the Bechdel test?”

Because I am not a true theater nerd (ha, not even close), I hadn’t. So she enlightened me.

The Bechdel test was created (by Alison Bechdel) to point out gender inequality in movies. The test has three parts:

1. The movie must have two women in it.
2. The two women must talk to each other.
3. And they must talk to each other about something other than a man.

Movies that meet these three criteria are in the minority, but they surpass the others in acting, quality, and whatever ever else makes a good movie good (or something like that).

Right away I started ticking through movies:

Monuments Men, nope.
Boyhood, yes.
Osage County, yes.
Captain Phillips, no.
Her, no.
Frozen, yes.
Spiderman, no.
Steel Magnolias, yes.
The Social Network, no.
Avatar, no.
The Original Star Wars Trilogy, Harry Potter II, Lord of the Rings (all of them),  no, no, and no.

This test completely fascinates me. And it kinda pisses me off, too. As a kid, I loved listening to my mom visit with her friends. (Actually, I still like listening in on her conversations.) And I adore visiting with my girlfriends. When we talk, we get deep fast. Our conversations are convoluted and complex, juicy and tart. There’s nuance, and boy, do I ever enjoy me some good nuance.

This simple test has forever altered how I view my movies, thank you, Bechdel.

Me in the role that led to my barstool conversation. 
Please note, I am talking to a woman. We are talking about a man, true, but since the man has the mind of an eight-year-old, I don’t think it counts. 
And even without this conversation, the play still passes the test.

This same time, years previous: simple roast chicken.


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