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Fandor Now Categorizing Its Films Using the Bechdel Test -- And They Want Your Help

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 6, 2014 at 11:36AM

Fandor is going above and beyond the typical ideas of a streaming service. Beginning May 5, the site is incorporating a pop-up survey that appears with whatever film a viewer has chosen to watch. The three-question survey is the Bechdel test! Answers from the survey will help Fandor catalogue their content, so that all Bechdel-passing films can be found on a dedicated landing page.
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"Wendy and Lucy"
Oscilloscope Kelly Reichardt's 'Wendy and Lucy'

Fandor is going above and beyond the typical ideas of a streaming service. Beginning May 5, the site is incorporating a pop-up survey that appears with whatever film a viewer has chosen to watch. The three-question survey is the Bechdel test! Answers from the survey will help Fandor catalogue their content, so that all Bechdel-passing films can be found on a dedicated landing page.

Per Fandor, which is overseen by TOH! contributor Ted Hope, this new service is designed to let its users "become more aware of gender roles" in the films they choose to watch.

As a reminder, the three questions in the Bechdel test are: 1) Are there two women in a given film? 2) Do those two women talk to each other? 3) Do they talk to each other about something other than men?

Now, the Bechdel test is by no means fool-proof. It's been pointed out many times that a film such as, say, "Gravity" doesn't pass the test, though that's certainly a strong example of a film primarily about a woman, who has a rich interior life and must overcome daunting obstacles (most of which are completely unrelated to men). Here's what Fandor has to say:

When applied to individual films, this test can seem extremely reductive—after all, many fantastic films will not pass, and many films that do pass (like a certain sparkly vampire franchise which shall not be named) aren’t exactly lauded for their depiction of women. However, when applied holistically to a group of films, like Oscar winners, or even the films made in a certain year, the data can be used to show what kind of media is being produced and promoted, and for who. In fact, a more apt term for the test might be the Bechdel Lens.

In the original Bechdel comic [see below], the characters choose to forgo that trip to the movies because none of the films that are playing appeal to what they are looking for or what speaks to them. Independent film exists and is essential for this exact reason—because the paradigms of the mainstream film industry don’t reflect the depth and wealth of stories that can and should be told. It is in that spirit, the spirit of keeping film a democratic, dynamic and moving medium, that we are asking viewers for their assistance. Watch films. Rate them. Let’s see the pattern that emerges. Let’s watch films that appreciate, not just the depth of human experience, but the breadth of human relationships. Popcorn optional.

Bechdel test


This article is related to: News, Bechdel Test, News, Fandor


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.