Sunday, March 28, 2010

Do I Pass the Bechdel Dating Test?

Women, Action, and the Media director Jaclyn Friedman on filtering out dating profiles:
you know the Bechdel Test for films? It states that any good film has to have two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a guy. Well, this is my test: When I look at personal ads, I look at their lists of favorite books, movies, and music, and they have to list women in all of those categories. They don’t have to have a majority of women, but they have to know that women exist in the culture and be fans of some of them. It’s a pretty low bar—or it should be. I used to look for guys who don’t list Fight Club in their favorites, but I’ve had to relax that rule, because all dudes evidently love Fight Club.

First, in re: Fight Club, what Yglesias said. Second, I always thought the test was that two women have to have a conversation about something other than either (a) a guy, or (b) child rearing.

Third, this made for an interesting moment of self-exploration and an excuse to see if my Facebook profile was up to date. I'm mostly saved by music, where I have two all-female acts (Sleater-Kinney and Go Betty Go), and two female-fronted bands (Pretty Girls Make Graves and Gossip, though Gossip's current drummer is also female). I've also got The Optimist's Daughter on the list of books, though the rest of it tilts male. The TV shows are a mixed bag. Buffy passes the test, and presumably at some point two of the female characters in The West Wing talk about something other than men or child rearing. There aren't any other women in The X-Files but it's hard to say that Scully fits a lot of prototypical female roles. But the list of movies turns out to be a total dudefest: none of the movies feature more than one or maybe one and a half significant female roles.

Couple with the recent Nancy Meyers profile in the NYT magazine and ongoing complaints about the lack of top-flight acting roles for women as it relates to Oscars, one starts to wonder if filmmaking in particular has an even harder time coming up with products that . They're obviously not the only part of our media universe that has this problem (sketch/standup comedy and video games both come to mind), but they may be the largest piece of it.

The more likely possibility of course is that I just haven't looked hard enough for female-led movies. So, use the comments to tell me what I should watch.
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