Saturday, June 29, 2013

Me VS. Summer Movies: The Intro Post

I'm going to interrupt my usual book-ish talk to do something random this summer. It's not really a secret that I LOVE going to the movies. I'm pretty sure I've written about it a couple of times on this blog, and one of the reasons I love summer so much is that there's something new I want to see every week.

But recently, the movies have been disappointing me. You see, I've been holding them up to the Bechdel Test standards and...not one movie passed so far. Well, until today. I saw "The Heat" and was worried about it NOT passing as I sat in the theater. Since it's the only mainstream female-centric film out right now, I not only wanted it to be good, I wanted it to pass the test.

And it did. I'm both sad and relieved that it passed. 

For those of you who are a bit unfamiliar with the test, it's quite simple (which is why I'm always so mad when something I watch/read doesn't pass it). There are three (or two and a half, depending on how you look at it) rules.

  2. These female characters have to have a conversation.
  3. About something that IS NOT A GUY.
Not super difficult, right?


Let me break this down. So far this summer, I've seen:

"Star Trek: Into Darkness" Most definitely male-centric.
I don't think the female characters (of which there were...three?) said a damn thing to each other. Throughout the whole movie. I had other problems with this movie, too, but I'm leaving it at the Bechdel Test fail right now.

"The Purge" This one's sort of evenly male/female-centric.
I actually really liked this movie, and there were more than two named female characters. But when the female characters did manage to have a conversation, it usually revolved around the daughter's boyfriend or the patriarch of the family. So womp womp there.

"Now You See Me" Definitely male-centric.
Aside from the whole one-female-character-is-a-constant-weight-joke thing, this hardcore fails the test. There are three female characters in this (though one just hangs off of Morgan Freeman the whole time and doesn't really say anything). So the two female characters who are actually integral to the plot don't talk to each other. There's an interrogation scene at the beginning, but they're talking about a man, and there's also a man in the room with them, and that's literally the only time those characters interact. Awesome.

"Man of Steel" Do I even have to say it was male-centric?
So then we get to Superman, and though there are...five (hey! the most so far!) female characters who are important players, all their time is spent discussing...Superman.

"World War Z" Male and zombie-centric.
Brad Pitt travels around the world, saving it and stuff. There are indeed more than two named female characters here, but they don't get much to do. We've got Brad Pitt's wife and daughters, who spend the whole movie wondering if he'll be all right, and there are a couple more ladies who are important, but their roles are spoilery so I'm not gonna go into it. Just know that, if they do talk, they're talking about Brad Pitt (because he's doing stuff with zombies).

"The Heat" Female-centric.
The buddy cop movie we didn't know we wanted. Though Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy do spend most of their time trying to find a mysterious bad guy, there are parts of the movie that qualify it for passing the test. It might've been a bit predictable, but I laughed, and as the only mainstream female-centric movie out right now, I'm very glad it passed the test.

So let's recap:

Summer movies I've seen: 6

Summer movies that were male-centric: 4
Summer movies that were evenly-centric: 1
Summer movies that were female-centric: 1

Summer movies that passed the Bechdel Test: 1
Summer movies that failed the Bechdel Test: 5

This week, I'm going to go see "Monsters University," so we'll see how that does. I'd like to state that I really do love movies, which is why I'm doing this. I'm certainly not the first person to point that out, and I've no idea if I'll ever have the kind of power to change any of this. But when only ONE movie so far has named female characters talking about something other than a guy, there's a problem.

And I'm both very excited and very saddened that, because of what's getting released, I'm going to keep talking about this problem all summer.


  1. Wow, that is crazy! Thanks for pointing that out. Hopefully more pass the test as the summer continues. Do let us know how you like Monsters University! I loved Monsters Inc and don't want it ruined by a bad sequel.

  2. I know, right? I think it'll be an interesting thing to keep up with this summer!

    And I'll definitely let you know how I like Monsters University!!! Fingers crossed it's as good as the original!