Some of my favorite people are women. True story. If it weren’t for women, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.
I’m pretty sure most human beings, if not all of them, could say the same thing. Wait, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure everyone was born by a woman. Or at the very least, they were like Shakespeare’s MacDuff – from their mother’s womb untimely ripped.
Well, that got odd quickly. But seeing as earlier this morning I was having a discussion about autocannibalism (eating one’s own flesh), I’d say that was relatively tame. Especially since I mentioned the well-respected Shakespeare. Everybody loves that son of a bitch. Even though he wrote Titus Andronicus. There’s some really bizarre stuff that happens in that one.
But all that is neither here nor there. This is a column about movies and entertainment. Specifically about women. Female characters, in point of fact. You ever notice how they don’t get much range on the screen?
There had to be a scene where the leading man has to go out of his way to save the green chick, even though she’s one of the deadliest assassins in the galaxy.
Sure, you can find examples of women being clever, assertive, proactive, or generally being the problem-solver in a situation, but you have to look for them, and the more money that’s put into a film, the less likely you are to see that kind of character. Really, how often does that happen in the big, big releases? James Bond typically doesn’t meet up with anyone as capable as himself, and if he does, he’ll have to rescue her at some time during the film, guaranteed. OK, he might have to kill her, but that’s an entirely different conversation.
Even in Guardians of the Galaxy, the biggest movie of the year, there had to be a scene where the leading man has to go out of his way to save the green chick, even though she’s one of the deadliest assassins in the galaxy. And he does so at least twice.
Ever heard of the Bechdel Test? If you are either an enthusiastic student of film or a regular supporter of women’s rights, you have probably heard of it. It’s a measure of a movie’s treatment of female characters and whether they are there just to talk about the male characters and serve their purposes or if the females have motivations of their own. It’s interesting, I think. It does a better job of it than Seth MacFarlane’s metric of just wondering if there are boobs onscreen.
The Bechdel Test asks three questions. Are there at least two women in the movie? Do they talk to each other? About something other than a man? It’s amazing how many films don’t pass that test.
When you think of high-profile pictures these days, it’s difficult not to bring up the big works of the Marvel universe: The Avengers. Iron Man. Thor. And this year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier had everybody talking about Black Widow as portrayed by the wonderful Scarlett Johansson. The fact is, she’s one of only two female characters in the film, including Maria Hill (played by my Aunt Robin … er … I mean, Cobie Smulders). They don’t have a lot to say to each other, and it’s questionable whether their dialogue constitutes a successful passing of the Bechdel Test. If the movie passes, it doesn’t do so with flying colors.
Of all the movies that came out this year, one surprise that’s on the passing side of this rule is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Apparently, April (Megan Fox’s character) is committed to talking about her career with her female roommate. Cinefiles and herpetologists everywhere appreciate that.
Anyway, next time you see a big action movie or thriller, think about this little test. You may wonder why it matters. If that’s something that crosses your mind, you should take a look at the relationships around you and how they stack up genderwise. I mean, it’s only 2014, it’s not quite time for us to take women seriously yet, right? Right?