Friday, October 10, 2014

Response: Manhood and The Bechdel Test

Colin Stokes brings up some vital messages films are sending to children, specifically boys. Most importantly, he raises the issue that there are many wonderful heroines smashing the patriarchy for little girls to idolize, but no male characters for boys to look upto that are defying the patriarchy. This is crucial. Currently, the heroism is synonymous with "becoming a man" and scooping up a nice lady prize in the end. 

Stokes mentions a specific test he has movies undergo before sharing them with his children. This test was first coined by Allison Bechdel in 1985. There are three points of criteria all movies must meet,

This test is incredibly interesting to me and I feel that it raises important attention to female characters and their true role in the films they're in. Specifically, Stokes mentions Princess Lea in "Starwars" who "waits around the whole movie to give our hero a medal and a wink." I agree with Colin, for the most part. I do however believe that there are some flaws with The Bechdel Test. One is simply the shaming aspect of the test itself towards enjoying a film that drops the ball in one of the three criteria (over 80%). The test fails to take into account the complexity of conversation. Regardless, it's important for us as the viewers to be aware of the one dimensional purpose Hollywood places on women so we are able to talk to our children to prevent them from being put under the wrong impression. 
Bechdel's test isn't the core of what Colin is trying to get at, he's mostly emphasizing the importance of what we learn alongside the characters in the films; the purpose of characters and how they go about "saving the day." He encourages collaboration with friends sharing common goals (Tangled) as opposed to violent conflict and female prizes (The Lion King). He pushes for application of skills towards the greater good (Kiki's Delivery Service) versus moving up a male hierarchy through mastery of a skill (Ratatouille). This is something I am on board for. These are the movies I'd also love to see more of.

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