Fascinating post on screenwriter John August’s blog about what’s become known as the Bechdel Test.
The Bechdel Test refers to cartoonist Alison Bechdel, and a cartoon she wrote in 1985 titled DTWOF, or ‘Dykes To Watch Out For’.
Her 3 rules are as follows:
- Are there two or more female characters with names?
- Do they talk to each other?
- If they talk to each other, do they talk about something other than a man?
And here’s a short clip elaborating, citing just a few examples…
As the narrator mentions, simply passing this test does not a good movie make. But it does tell you something about the ways in which our respective genders are depicted on screen, and the limitations placed on a lot of female characters.
Upon quick analysis I can tell you that I’m reasonably sure that the following films did NOT pass the Bechdel Test:
- ‘The Hurt Locker’
- ‘District 9’
- ‘Inglourious Basterds’
If you’ve picked for yourself that this is almost half the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2010, good for you.
It can be pretty surprising when you realize how many of your favorite films do NOT pass the B.T. Even more surprising for aspiring screenwriters like myself is when you look at your own work and see how scant a basic female presence is in your own writing.
All I can do personally is aspire to write better female characters, better scripts, better stories. And as viewers it’s up to us to be aware that we, the audience, deserve better than this.
Cos I like women in movies. I hope you do too. Lots of women.
Except for Nicole Kidman.
She just bugs the shit outta me for some reason.