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Becoming Media Literate

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Have you ever tried to do the Test Bechdel ? It is really an interesting test that reveals a lot about the film industry. So I tried to apply this test to the last ten movies I have watched.

Last 10 films watched : 

– The Artist (FAIL) : It is a silent film. But they communicate. But the woman in this film does not speak with another girl.

 – Intouchables (FAIL) : There are some women but they do not speak together.

– Harry Potter (FAIL) : Hermione is Harry Potter’s best friend but she does not speak with other girl, I think.

– Reservoir Dogs (FAIL) : There is no women in this movie.

– Dead Line (FAIL) : There is just a wife in this movie but she speaks only with his husband.

– The Departed (FAIL) : There is a women who is psychologist but she speak only with men.

– Never Let Me Go (FAIL) : There are two main female characters but I thnink that when they speak they talk about men.

– Drive (FAIL) : There are two female characters but they do not speak together.

– Morning Glory (PASS) : The main character is a woman, and she speak with a other woman about job.

– The Help (PASS) : It is a movie on black women conditions in the fifties. So women speak together about their social conditions.

The test applies to a movie you have watched. You have to ask you if there are two women in this movie, if they have a name, if they talk together about another subject than men. This test is quite difficult to apply for some films because you can remember if there are girls but it’s more difficult to know if they have name, if they speak together and to know their topic of discussion. The results of this test were surprising and a little bit heartbreaking. 8 of 10 films I watched have failed. In these movies, there are often male heroes and female secondary characters. Women are often personified as the companion of their husband, as a friend or as a person that man has to seduce. And it is really surprising to see that these women do not have name, they do not speak together, and if they do, they do not talk about something else than men. While that there are men, who speak together about politics, economic issues, family issues, and social issues.


It is clear that this test shows that there is a lack of women representativeness. Women in these movies are often reduced to a function of friends or wife and when they speak they just discuss about love or other subject around men. But it is not necessary to remember that as men, women have an active life, they work, have hobbies, stories, friends, occupations, and passions. We can see that in  the two films that have passed the test, women are main characters, who talk to other women on other issues than men and their relationships with them. These films are about their daily lives, their work, friendship, their hobbies, politics issues etc. So they have many other topics of conversation.

It is interesting to notice that most movies have a male main character, and there are femals characters around him. However, it appears that film making is not the first art to under-represent women. In Literature, most of main characters are men and it seems that women have the ability to identify themselves to both male and female characters. On this basis, the main character is usually a man. But why can we not think that men would arrive to identify with a female characters. Indeed, men can identify to a female heroe who has the same preoccupations than men.

However it seems that film industry does not want to change this situation. Imagine if in most of films, the main characters are women ? Can you imagine that  Spider man is a women ? I think that it can be a real democratic upheaval ! I think that television is more democratical on this question because TV shows can be more specific and target a smaller audience. In this way, they can take more risks in representing women. I think for a studio who want to make a blockbuster it is more risky to represent women in another way than a pin-up or a housewife. But I think that it it is a risk to take !