The Bechdel Test and Every Single Word.
There have been several projects and tests that have called out the lack of diversity and general problems that Hollywood has in regards to representing anyone other than a cishet white male. Hollywood has an undeniable diversity and representation problem and the problem seems to at the very least start at the top. I think it’s unbelievably important for us to be critical of the mainstream media that so many consume on a regular basis, especially along the lines of a lack of representation towards race/ethnicity and gender.
The Bechdel Test, for example, first started in 1985 and named after the cartoonist Alison Bechdel whose comic the rules first appeared. The Geek Feminism Wiki highlighted the rules for the test (taken more or less straight from the comic itself), saying that the requirements were:
- the movie [media] has at least two women characters;
- who talk to each other;
- about something other than a man.
And the test is more important than you might realize. Charlie Jane Anders wrote about the importance of the test over at io9, saying among many things that while the test is not fool proof, it does force many to think why so many films would fail such a low bar in regards to representing women.
Additionally, Dylan Marron, a New York based actor, has recently been working on a project titled Every Single Word, which has been a compilation of movies edited down to just the words spoken by people of color. He’s covered many mainstream videos like Birdman, Juno, the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy (which fit into one 46 second video), Into the Woods (which was silent…), and many many more.
The videos highlight how few words are actually said by people of color in big/mainstream movies and the race problem in Hollywood. And the project highlights the dynamics behind a study done by UCLA a few years ago, which found that minorities and women are underrepresented (compared to actual demographics in the US) both in front of and behind the camera.
It’s both interesting and extremely disappointing that so many mainstream movies and television shows fail to have any sort of representation. The new reboot of Doctor Who started off strong in regards to passing the Bechdel test for the first couple seasons but once Stephen Moffat took over as showrunner, the show began to do significantly worse.
Whovian Feminism wrote about the problem between the first few seasons and the last few as far as the Bechdel Test and also addresses the fact that this test is not a measure of feminism but a measure of female presence within a medium and not talking about a man. And fan artists of the Harry Potter series have also helped many to reimagine the characters other than the default white that took over the movies.
Race and gender are not the only identities that Hollywood fails to address – there are so many other problematic issues that Hollywood and mainstream media needs to address. I am happy to see things like the Bechdel Test and Every Single Word addressing the problems, particularly in such blatant ways.