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The Bechdel Test and New Reviews

It's been busy here at Casa Abbott as a long-term project management project I've been working on is quickly coming to its conclusion. Hopefully that will mean more regular posting from me in the future, and certainly more interesting things to talk about!

Not long ago, friends and I were talking about the Bechdel Test (named after fellow Simon's Rock alumna Alison Bechdel, who just won a Guggehneim Fellowship this week) and movies that we love. If you've not encountered it before, it involves a movie in which:
  • 1) there are at least two named female characters, who

  • 2) talk to each other about

  • 3) something other than a man.

We had discussed that passing the Bechdel Test marked a work as feminist, but I think that's not entirely true to the original purpose (which was actually a joke in Bechdel's web comic). Movies that pass the test aren't feminist. They just have women who are characters that are essential to the plot, rather than being accessories to the male heroes.

This came up in my online reading today via Tor.com's latest explosive post (following the post about Mordicai Knode's diversity in D&D art), "Hey, Everyone--Stop Taking This Picture!" by Emily Asher-Perrin. Thanks to jimhines and Rose Fox at Genreville, I've already seen this pose covered a number of times in the book jacket community. Hearing a female in the comments confirm what Jim said after his experiment posing as urban fantasy heroines -- notably that he needed a chiropractic visit afterwards -- removes the last vestiges of "but" comments that I made over at Jim's blog. (I'd mostly been won over to that argument thanks to genrereviews post on the same.) That's an uncomfortable pose from which you could not spring into action, unless you were a superhero.

From the comments I discovered these posts from the Hathor Legacy about how screenwriting effectively teaches screenwriters to not pass the Bechdel test. These posts are a little old -- 2008 and 2010 -- but they're kind of astonishing. It's not a conspiracy, folks, it's policy -- and I can only hope it's changed since the writer behind the Hathor Legacy went to film school.

In other news, my first book review for Black Gate, for which I reviewed How to Train Your Dragon, is up on the site. I did a few for them, and am hoping one will land in the print magazine. We'll see!

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