Where the Movies Let Me Down

What is your favorite movie? I love Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (actually, pretty much any Hayao Miyazaki film), The Science of Sleep, Charlie Bartlett, Monsoon Wedding. I just recently watched Monsoon Wedding, and afterwards, I was perusing Facebook and found this video, linked from Upworthy:

And then I thought about the movie I’d just watched, one that I really do like a lot, and I was disappointed to realize that it didn’t pass the Bechdel Test. Neither did my other favorites, except for Nausicaä.

“The entire industry is built upon creating films and movies that cater to and that are about men.” Many of the most compelling characters in my favorite movies are men. And when was the last time the main plot of a movie that caters to women (think “chick flick”) was about something other than men? By ingesting this constant barrage of male-minded content, we women are taught to believe that our only interest is men and our only purpose is to be with/be foils for/help men. (Ever heard of the manic pixie dream girl? Yeah. The female lead in Charlie Bartlett is a bit of a MPDG. What a ridiculous way to portray women. And completely unreal.) Even movies that are ostensibly taking a stand again this women-are-for-men mindset (like Frozen) often still insist on including a love interest for the main character. Why?

Ladies, there is more to your life than loving a man. Even if Hollywood doesn’t tell you so. And for those of you who do love a man, you know it is not like a chick flick, and you are not a manic pixie dream girl. Real-life relationships are so much richer and about so much more. They’re a lot more work, too.

So, what’s a girl to do? Stop watching movies? I’m not going to. They’re fun. But I don’t think it would hurt us to keep the Bechdel Test in mind when we’re consuming media, so we remember women’s lives are just as interesting, compelling, complicated, wonderful, and even as troubled as men’s, even if the movies don’t let on.

And also, keep searching for those gems of movies that you love and that do pass the Bechdel Test! They’re out there!