Bechdel Rating


Discussions of movies, TV shows, and other works of fiction on Acting NT are accompanied by a Bechdel Rating, a variation of the Bechdel test, named after Alison Bechdel, who first outlined the test in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. The test was originally conceived as a complaint against inadequate lesbian representation, but has since become known more as a framework for discussing representation of women in general.

The Bechdel test is a recommendation for moviegoers to avoid gender bias.  Neither the original test nor my rating system are necessarily measures of quality, but they help to find diversity in industries that are lacking. To pass the test, a movie must include all three of the following:
  1. Two female characters
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than a man.
Seems easy, right? It is, and yet only half of the films released in 2013 pass it (I wrote this explanation in 2014), according to the 285 listings on bechdeltest.com. Out of the 10 highest-grossing that year, 4 of them pass (Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Hunger Games, and Thor).

My Bechdel Rating is a scale from 0 to 4 which is then translated into school grades: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0. You get 1 point for passing the original Bechdel test, and 1 point for each of three variants of it. Those variations are:

The racial Bechdel test. To pass this test, you must include:
  1. Two non-white* characters
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than a white* person.
*For foreign films, replace "white" with the majority race in the country that produced the film.

The other two also follow the same pattern. The queer Bechdel test:
  1. Two queer characters (I will accept any combination of characters who are not both cis and straight, e.g. 1 asexual + 1 genderfluid would count.)
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than a cisgender, heterosexual person.

And lastly, the disabled Bechdel test:
  1. Two disabled characters
  2. who talk to each other
  3. about something other than an able-bodied, neurotypical person.

The only work I have found thus far that gets an A in this system is Switched at Birth, a TV series that I highly recommend. Don't tune out when you see the ABC Family logo. It is actually very well written and deals with adult problems.



No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment policy: I tend to let most things slide because any message has the potential to inspire a productive, educational, and/or entertaining conversation. Still, I reserve the right to delete comments for any reason I decide is worthy, so don't be an asshole.