The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bechdel

Since I first heard of it, in 2011 or so, I have been considering the Bechdel Test. The Bechdel Test is a test of literature. This test is: whether there be two characters who are both female, and these characters conduct a conversation about some topic which does not involve a male. If such a scene exists in the text, the text passes. They say the test was extant as of 1985; it took recent SJWs to raise it to Internet fame, such that I'd noticed it.

The Bechdel test was devised by a "feminist". And as a feminist test, I have to agree - it's cogent.

The work doesn't have to be written by a woman; it doesn't even have to appeal to most women. The Alien movies are the usual case in point. On the other hand, take the contemporary 80s movie The Three Amigos; plenty of women helped make it what it was, and these women often made the male "heroes" look like chumps - the senioras "had agency", as the saying goes. But that movie fails the Bechdel test.

The Alien movies are about Ripley (female) and the Alien (rapist). The Three Amigos are about three male amigos. Alien cannot have a scene that does not involve the Alien; and Cameron's sequel, further, had to dump a scene that was not about Ripley. The Three Amigos likewise cannot have a scene that does not support the amigos' character-arc. There exist narrative laws more ancient than Bechdel's. These are Aristotle's laws of poetry, instantiated by Chekhov and his rifle.

As a result, the Bechdel Test - if passed - means that the work be about one or more females.

If women want to watch movies that pass Bechdel, this is fine. If men watch the same movies - also, fine. It is even fine for men to author texts as explicitly Bechdel; Alien and Aliens stand up to this day, for good reason.

But:

If you are writing movies for men, you don't have to occupy yourself with the priorities of the Bechdel set. And if you are female, you also don't have to boycott movies that don't pass the Bechdel test. Anymore than we men feel we have to absent ourselves from good female-centred movies like, oh, Heathers, or Devil Wears Prada or - if it comes to that - Aliens.

This is, I think, what the modern SJWs don't understand.


posted by Zimri on 07:30 | link | 0 comments

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