Movieland is a lonely place for women. It must be considering how few women inhabit it. In “real” life women have a mother, sisters, girlfriends, aunts, female cousins and colleagues they are friendly with. Sometimes we even have our grandmothers in adulthood. In movieland on the other hand they are typically alone in a world of men. For instance, take Wimbledon (2004), a love story starring Kirsten Dunst as the lead female and Paul Bettany as the lead male. Bettany has his brother, his father, his best friend Dieter and his male agent. For her part Dunst has no sisters, mother or girlfriends and her agent is a man. In fact, all she has in the way of contact with other women is rivals. This is not an atypical movie. It is the norm.
Thankfully the increasing number of women in film (behind the camera) is starting to change that. In movies like Brooklyn (2015), Suffragette (2015), Hidden Figures (2016), Ghostbusters (2016), Wonder Woman (2017) and Meditation Park (2017) women are often surrounded by other women. Female moviegoers will be happier with this new, more hospitable landscape. Unfortunately, there is still a very, very long way to go. These movies are exceptions.
Most recent movies only just barely pass the Bechdel Test (a test that serves as an indicator of the active presence of women in movies) because female characters rarely speak to each other about something other than a man. For instance, this is the case in Inferno (2016), Skyfall (2012) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). In Inferno the only time a woman speaks to another woman about something other than a man is when a woman introduces herself to Felicity Jones. In Skyfall (2012) the only time a woman speaks to another woman about something other than a man is when Judi Dench and Naomie Harris exchange less than 20 lines about a situation that also involves men, an exchange that lasts less than two minutes. In Spider-Man: Homecoming female characters speak to each other (about something besides a man) for less than one minute.
Many movies still fail the Bechdel Test because no two named female characters ever speak about something besides a male. For instance, this is the case for The Secret Life of Pets (2016). Many movies still fail the Bechdel Test because no two named female characters ever speak. This is the case for Kong: Skull Island (2017), Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014), Fast & Furious (2009), Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull (2008) and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), to name just a handful.
Women enjoy the company of women, and we have things to say to each other--things that do not involve men. Movies should reflect this.
© 2017 Alline Cormier
#Brooklyn #Suffragette #HiddenFigures #Ghostbusters #WonderWoman