I found it boring, meandering and contrived, and absolutely loathed every single character. I don’t even care if Tom Waits is in it for like 10 minutes - it’s a story about whiny white kids who kill themselves to totally piss off their parents and end up in this ironic limbo-zone where they can go on road trips and fall in love with eachother.
Hey there! Saw your ending comment on your Inferno posting. I actually graduated undergrad with a cinema studies degree and I'm looking into grad schools in Chicago (p.s. I live in Chicago). But it's so hard to find out what I want to do with a masters in screen cultures. Other than write books about what I love all day, which I'm not opposed to. Any way, so nice to see a fellow female who loves sophisticated films!
Chicago, represent~ Where did you go for undergrad? What grad programs are you interested in?
Chicago’s full of awesome lady filmmakers and cinephiles. I wonder if there’s a meetup group? Should I start one? Like a book club?
Love your commentary on the Bechdel Test. Recently introduced it to my family, and they're constantly shocked at how few films meet the simple criteria. I still like the Test, because of it's simplistic nature, it really shows how inherently sexist Hollywood is. Though, I do believe an Advanced Bechdel Test would be nice. For example, watching Dodgeball today (which I have reviewed!) I noticed that the only time the film passed was when two ladies chatted and then kissed? Surely that's not right
Thank you! Personally, I think if there’s a new test, it should be called the Egalitarian Test. All genders elevated or degraded, but never out of balance. I understand sexual humor and sexism as an agent of “funny” (or whatever), so if it’s an important part of the script, I’d rather see it as an individual character trait or applied to an actual group of people - not just a single gender. This applies to other people-humor, too.
It is super-easy to pass the Bechdel Test, which is why it’s an (intentional) joke. Gotta step it up for real now, knowhatImean?
It’s about time we held female characters to a higher standard and argue against the Bechdel Test as still setting the bar (because, tragically, it is!). Hollywood will continue to sneer at feminist filmgoers and say films like Twilight are worth a watch because there are at least two female characters with their very own names who talk to eachother about things other than boys - this isn’t right. Gotta step it up a notch. We need a new test. I’ve been looking for a long time about it but I swear I read an interview where Bechdel says she wishes people didn’t put so much stock into that rule and it wasn’t ever meant to be some big grand lesson. It’s definitely not unknown that she didn’t make it up anyway.
I mean, I adore her and think she’s fantastic — but I think the point is missed. The Bechdel Test is like, the most. basic. level. of thinking about this. The Bechdel Test should NEVER be setting the bar for thinking. I think the only reason it is is out of laziness. I mean, it’s a good thing to consider if you’re just now thinking about how women are represented in media, but after a little while of realizing how every movie you love doesn’t fit with it, you need to move on to bigger things.
This is no hate to Bechdel, obviously, because a) she didn’t make it up and b) it’s a comic strip joke.
Anyway. What it meant to me was that it made me really realize that the male gender is the default and the woman is the Other, and oftentimes just an object, and that it’s not ok. I’m not going to watch or not watch a movie because it passes or doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. The Bechdel Test isn’t a feminism or gender equality meter. There doesn’t need to be a new test! The solution to the problem isn’t an easy-to-follow rule so that we can choose what to watch or not to watch without really thinking about it! And having a rule to follow when watching movies does not mean that you’re thinking about it! If you only watch movies that pass the Bechdel Test — if you, say, avoid a movie because it does not pass it — then that means you’re sweeping it under the rug. You’re not thinking about the significance of the female presence or lack thereof, or the significance of the female role in that film, or anything, just ‘no — because I’m following a rule, and obviously this film isn’t for me.’
Not saying that everyone thinks like that — but I know some people do. Changing how women (or anyone that isn’t a white man, pretty much) in the media isn’t going to happen because you don’t rent Saving Silverman. Or Star Wars.
My biggest issue with things like this is that changing what you consume is NOT going to change any industry, and especially not ‘male as the default.’ Changing what you consume just means that you’re not buying it, not that it’s not being made.
I feel the need to explain that the Bechdel test of the film world is not a personal manifesto. As a girl working in the film/media industry who often comes into contact with feminist-bent critique, I can tell you that most people aren’t even aware that the so-called “Bechdel test” came from Dykes To Watch Out For. It’s taken on its own meaning, where the test is used to critique the film on a whole - and to critique something, it needs to be watched. The Bechdel test no longer calls for avoidance of films; quite the opposite, it demands mass consumption. Whether or not FeministFrequency or other critics actually watch the films they hold up to the test, though, I couldn’t say.
The idea itself is empowering - that we should be critiquing media and the film industry constantly for their portrayals of ALL sexes and genders - but my point is, the Bechdel test is being used to critique films when we should be critiquing why everyone keeps talking about the Bechdel test! Ebert himself has referred to it, even used it. And this is the problem. I care less if people avoid films they don’t want to watch than I do having renowned critics invoke a rating scale that barely protects the existence of female characters at all.
So yes, there IS a need for a new test. Just because the fated writer doesn’t support its widespread usage doesn’t mean people don’t take it seriously.
Also, I do sadly view the Bechdel test as “feminist” - because in Hollywood, wanting female characters to have a presence, names and hobbies other than heteronormative obsessions, and other female friends to back them up, is still asking for too much.
“Which one of you did it?! Which one of you killed my dog?! You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘neighbor.’ Neighbors like each other, speak to each other, care if anybody lives or dies, but none of you do! But I couldn’t imagine any of you bein’ so low that you’d kill a little helpless, friendly dog - the only thing in this whole neighborhood who liked anybody. Did ya kill him because he liked ya? Just because he liked ya?!”—Neighbor grieving over her strangled dog in Rear Window (1954), dir. by Alfred Hitchcock