Screenwriting and Social Issues (Part 1): The Bechdel Test

Bechdel Test Logo - thescriptblog.com

Let’s talk about screenwriting. Let’s talk about gender.

The Bechdel Test is a simple way to gauge the active presence of female characters in Hollywood films and just how well rounded and complete those roles are. It is astonishing the number of popular movies that can’t pass this simple test. It demonstrates how women’s complex and interesting lives are underrepresented or nonexistent in the film industry. We have jobs, creative projects, friendships and struggles amongst many other things that are actually interesting in our lives… so Hollywood, start writing about it!”( feministfrequency.com).

Bechdel Test Comic Book

“Sometimes called the Mo Movie Measure or Bechdel Rule is a simple test which names the following three criteria: (1) it has to have at least two women in it, who (2) who talk to each other, about (3) something besides a man. The test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule.” (bechdeltest.com)

Again according to feministfrequency.com, a list of films that did not pass the test:

The Dark Knight
District 9
Slumdog Millionaire
Terminator Salvation
GI Joe
Shrek
Watchmen
Bourne Supremacy
Bourne Identity
Transformers
Bruno
Hackers
Ghostbusters
The Big Lebowski
Wall-E
Wanted
Ocean’s Twelve
Clerks
Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2 and 3
Austin Powers 1, 2 and 3
Men in Black
Fight Club
The Fifth Element
The Princess Bride
Hellboy 2
Milk
The Wedding Singer
Shawshank Redemption
Reservoir Dogs
Point Break
Quantum of Solace 007
Indiana Jones
Alien 3
Lord of the Rings 1, 2 and 3
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Truman Show
From Dusk till Dawn
Trainspotting
Mission Impossible
Braveheart
Toy Story
Gladiator
X Men
Wolverine
When Harry Met Sally
Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3
Tomb Raider
Pulp Fiction
Interview with the Vampire
Seven
Home Alone
Up

Ok. Some scripts have to fail the test for its very nature: Maybe there’s a powerful dramatic reason for having only male characters.  And some films pass the test by accident: yes, two girls talk about non-men related issues… for 30 seconds.

But, screenwriters of the world, I think we should keep an eye on it.

More on Social Issues? Check our post Screenwriting and Social Issues (part 2): Dylan Marron,

More on Screenwriting? Check Best Screenwriting Books: Dmytryk’s ON SCREEN WRITING, Best Screenwriting Books: ESSENTIALS OF SCREENWRITING, How TOY STORY 3 Was Written, How Billy Wilder’s SOME LIKE IT HOT Was Written, How Stanley Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT Was Written, Best Screenwriting Books: THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING and For Screenwriters: Endings, amongst many other posts!

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Posted in: FILMMAKING, POSTS on filmmaking, POSTS on screenwriting, SCREENWRITINGTagged under: ,