Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
"Your Legacy Is More Than a Name" - Watch Michael B. Jordan in First Trailer for 'Creed' "Your Legacy Is More Than a Name" - Watch Michael B. Jordan in First Trailer for 'Creed' 'Extant' Returns to CBS 7/1. Get Caught Up w/ This 1-Minute Recap + Read What Critics Are Saying 'Extant' Returns to CBS 7/1. Get Caught Up w/ This 1-Minute Recap + Read What Critics Are Saying Today, 26 Years Ago, 'Do The Right Thing' Opened in Theaters. Watch the Cast & Crew Reunite Today, 26 Years Ago, 'Do The Right Thing' Opened in Theaters. Watch the Cast & Crew Reunite Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman & Julia Roberts Seek Justice in First Trailer for 'Secret in Their Eyes' Remake Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman & Julia Roberts Seek Justice in First Trailer for 'Secret in Their Eyes' Remake Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’ Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’ The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Full List of BET AWARDS Winners (Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard Take Actor Nods) Full List of BET AWARDS Winners (Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard Take Actor Nods) Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Taking Aim At Gender Bias In Movies w/ The Bechdel Test. How Would It Work w/ Race?

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act November 13, 2013 at 12:14PM

Taking Aim At Gender Bias In Movies w/ Bechdel Test. How Would It Work w/ Race?
10
Hmm

Does your film pass the Bechdel Test?


Imagine if the test caught on here in the USA. Theaters in Sweden have adopted the test as a new way to highlight gender bias in cinema. 

In short, if your movie passes the Bechdel test, it gets a passing grade. 

While it's not law in Sweden, theaters there are using it to draw attention to how few movies fully incorporate rich, complex female characters in their narratives, which could affect box office for some films. And it's an initiative that's been well-received by filmgoers in the country. Even the state-funded Swedish Film Institute supports it, as well as Scandinavian cable TV channel Viasat Film, who says it'll start using the ratings in its film reviews. And by all accounts, it's something that's starting to catch on, with promoting gender equality in cinema, the goal.

The Bechdel test got its name from American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who introduced the concept in her comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For in 1985. 

To pass the test, each film must meet the following 3 criteria:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it...

2. ... Who talk to each other...

3. ... About something besides a man

In watching the below explanation of the test, I thought, about our continuous discussions on defining black film, or identifying a black film aesthetic. And I tried to come up with a similar kind of test that we could use to measure similar *racial* inequalities in every film. But I couldn't so simplistically narrow it down to just 3 questions, as in the Bechdel test. 

If we followed its lead, ours would look something like this: 

1. Are there two or more black characters with names in the film? 

2. Do they talk to each other? 

3. If they talk to each other, do they talk about something other than XXXX? 

What would that "XXXX" be? Again, I don't think 3 questions would suffice. We'd need to go even broader, because, while there are films that satisfy the first 2 criteria, there isn't some readily identifiable subject that's discussed consistently, widely, solely between black characters in cinema is there? Maybe race, or "blackness," or something related to being black, since that's the one thing the characters would have in common. 

And what would we call the test? And if we applied this test to movies (maybe specifically Hollywood movies), would we be surprised by the outcome?

 

Watch the below video explanation first, and share your thoughts in the comments section, if you have any:


Shadow & ActNewsletter