Women are most effectively silenced when filmmakers choose not to include them, but there are also many other methods used (e.g. preventing them from talking--especially to each other, telling them to shut up, interrupting them, etc.). Even though Spectre (2015) runs for two hours and twenty-eight minutes no two women ever speak. So it fails the Bechdel test—a test that serves as an indicator of the active presence of women in movies—on the second criterion. The first criterion is the inclusion of two female characters, preferably named. The second criterion is that they speak to each other, and the third criterion is that their speech relate to something besides a man. There are only three named female characters (or four if you include a dead woman who makes an appearance in a video Daniel Craig watches on his TV). Two of these women are Craig's love interests and the third, although she does not actually have sex with Craig, definitely appears interested and pays him a visit at his flat. As for men there are seven named male characters. Moreover, the sexist Hollywood age gap is maintained here: Craig is 17 years older than Léa Seydoux, who plays his girlfriend.
In Spectre women are silenced by being relatively absent and prevented from speaking to each other. They are also interrupted. During a meeting when a doctor has the floor she simply stops talking when a man enters the room and does not resume her speech until he gives her the go ahead. He says to her, "Don't let me interrupt you," but that is precisely what the filmmakers have allowed him to do. Furthermore, if it does not strike you as odd that no two women ever speak in a feature-length film ask yourself this: how many movies can you name in which no two men ever speak?
Hoping this latest James Bond movie will be the last Bond movie is fairly pointless given how appealing these movies are to our sexist societies. Even hoping women have more voice and presence in the next one would be absurd. It would be like hoping women were less sexualized in it. If women were not silenced and sexualized in a Bond film it wouldn't be a Bond film.
© 2018 Alline Cormier
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