Last year, three of the films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards featured women in its leading roles (Black Swan, Winter’s Bone, The Kids Are All Right). This year, the frontrunner for many of the awards at tomorrow’s Oscars is The Help, a movie which features a cast of strong female characters. But are women truly making gains in Hollywood in terms of female representation?
In the video above, Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian applies Allison Bechdel‘s Bechdel Test to the 2012 Best Picture nominees to assess the presence of female roles in these acclaimed motion pictures. To pass the test, a film must fulfill three requirements: It must 1) have at least two female characters 2) who talk to each other 3) about something other than a man.
While the test does not determine the quality of a film, the evaluation of gender bias in current movies does bring to light the systemic problem within the Hollywood film industry. Many of the films we see cater to the interests of men and fail to tell women’s stories as they really are – complex and interesting. After looking at the Bechdel Test Movie List, an online database of films measured by the test, I am astonished over how so many popular movies do not meet the simple requirements of the test. This makes the under- and mis-representation of women in the film industry a glaring reality.
The next time you watch a movie (or even your favourite television show), consider the Bechdel Test and see which ones pass and which ones flunk.