Bechdel Test Wins American Domestic Box Office
As everyone is well aware, films have made very few strides in portraying women accurately, let alone even letting them onscreen. There are still simplistic one dimensional female characters dreamt up by male screenwriters who have yet to encounter real women to put in their scripts.
The Bechdel Test was thought up by Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist who drew the above comic strip. The rules are simple. A movie passes the test if–
- It has to have at least two women in it,
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man.
On the surface, it seems like a good way to gauge gender bias in movies. In a lot of films, it serves it’s purpose. The Wolf of Wall Street would obviously fail this test whereas Frozen would pass. However it gets a little more complicated with other films. For example, all but one Harry Potter film passes the test (the movies with HERMIONE GRANGER). Sex and the City is all women chattering on about men. Movies that pass the test may still be sexist, and films that fail may still be very empowering.
Although I do agree it’s a simplistic look at gender bias, it’s one of the only sexist finger pointing devices that’s gotten any attention from the media. The comic has been out since 1985, but only in the past few years has it gotten major media attention.
Sweden is the first country to include the test in its film ratings. It’s a way to draw attention to the bigger issue of the blatant gender bias onscreen.
However Hollywood is still making slow, steady strides. As previous studies have proven that movies with more women make more money, this is still true today. The Bechdel test was applied to the past year in film. The infographic below shows that Bechdel passing movies collectively brought in a bigger box office than their failing counterparts, even when the ‘dubious’ films were excluded.
The lesson to take away here is simple. Your audience is 51% female. We’ve proven that we will flock to the theaters to see more of ourselves onscreen in various capacities. We want to see females portrayed as astronauts, thieves, cops, and ice queens alongside our mother and stripper tropes. If you want our money, give us more women.
On my last and final note, Catching Fire’s domestic gross has officially surpassed Iron Man 3 as the top grossing film of 2013. Seems like the odds were ever in our favor.