I stumbled upon a very interesting video that talks about something called The Bechdel Test. The test goes like this: There has to be two female character in the film (with names) who talk to each other about something other than men. If the film fulfils these requirements it passes. Pretty simple and easy. I mean, most Hollywood films must pass this test with ease right? Wrong. It’s actually quite shocking to see how very little films represent women appropriately.
But this theory doesn’t only apply to women, the same can be said about gay people and other races. In fact the only people Hollywood don’t mis-represent are white men. For example, how many films are there featuring gay people where the film doesn’t just revolve around their sexuality or gender? And in films where there are people of differing races, they’re often talking about white people. The best example of this racial issue is in The Help. The Help is about two black maids who look after a white family. Even though there are several black people in the cast, it only just passes the test because the characters are almost always talking to or about, a white person. Making the film less about the plight of black people and more about white people “solving” racism.
Now we all like to think that today’s society is far more equal than it used to be and we’re accepting of different genders, races and sexualities and yes, having films incorporating these things are good but it doesn’t mean the problem is solved. Out of nine of the Oscar nominated films talked about the video I mentioned before, only two of them pass The Bechdel Test. Two! Now, tell me if I’m wrong but last time I checked there are just as many women on the planet as there are men. So why is it so hard to have just two female characters who talk to each other about something other than men?
Now just because a film revolves around men doesn’t make it a bad film. We’re not talking about the quality of films here and sometimes it’s necessary to have an almost all male cast and that’s fine. What the problem is is not portraying women enough in the right light. There are plenty of female-centred films but a lot of them portray women in a stereotypical way; Sucker Punch, Sex in the City and any other chick-flick film you can think of are good examples. There are quite a few LGBT films too but many of them only centre around being gay, again, there’s nothing wrong with that but would it kill to have more gay characters in every-day films? For example, Scott Pilgrim VS the world does a great job of having a gay character and not making a big deal out of it. It’s represented as being normal which is the way it should be shown. And of course the same could be said about representing other races, we need to do it more and make it less about white people patting themselves on the back.
The problem is though, Hollywood is still male dominated as almost every other big industry is. If there wasn’t an award for best actress, would women ever win best actor? Probably not. (That’s another gripe of mine too, I never called female actors actresses, that insinuates it’s a lesser role than actor). Hollywood needs to wake up and realise what audiences they’re catering too these days, they may not care but we need to show we care, otherwise things may never change.