Let me take a moment to explain in my own words something that is very important to me.
I just saw the new X-Men (Days of Future Past). Out of all the comicbook-to-film series, I think I’ve enjoyed the X-Men the most. These mutant stories weave political, scientific, and psychological themes with eye-popping muscles and badassery. I won’t give away any spoilers about the latest installment, but there was an impressionable balance of special effects and dialogue… between and about men. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the movie, but Days of Future Past is a prime example of the normative failure of Hollywood to show women interacting with each other on screen.
I am not introducing a new idea here, but to have women talk to each other about something other than a man does not seem like a difficult task for screenwriters, right? The real question many of you are probably asking is, “But why does it even matter?” There’s no simple answer to that question without throwing a bunch of “ism”s and “ists” around. I think the crux of the issue is that it provides us with a more realistic and diverse view of society. And sure, it’s “just a movie,” but not only do we invest a lot of time and mental energy on American cinema, we also imitate and internalize it.
This is an idea that not only applies to women, but any marginalized group (LGBT people, foreigners, people of color, etc.). I’m focusing on women because, worldwide, they are not minorities. At least 50% of us are women, but very rarely do we get to see women on screen when they’re not serving a man’s agenda or storyline. (And even more rarely do we get films from women behind the camera, i.e. directors, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)
I’m not one to ramble on about things, so hopefully I’ve made my point here. Also, I’d like to publicly thank my friend Michael for introducing the Bechdel Test to me a couple of years ago. Thinking more about these issues in cinema has changed the way I look at the world. This post is one way I can pay the idea forward.
Here are a couple of good articles on the subject:
- “Hollywood Movies With Strong Female Roles Make More Money” by Versha Sharma and Hanna Sender (1/2/14 Vocativ.com)
- “Beyond the Bechdel Test: Two (New) Ways of Looking at Movies” by Arit John (8/21/13 The Wire)