Video: Applying The Bechdel Test To The 2012 Oscar Nominees

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Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency — a series of videos discussing female tropes and characters in pop culture — is back with a critical look at the 2012 Oscar nominees. A few years ago, media scholar Anita applied the Bechdel test to Hollywood films, with depressing results, but she’s decided to try again for the nine movies nominated for Best Picture.

Created by comic book writer/artist Allison Bechdel, the Bechdel test gauges the visibility of women in Hollywood films, based on three pretty simple rules:

  • There must be at least two women
  • who talk to each other
  • about something other than a man

Sadly enough, only a handful of Oscar films pass this test, and they do so narrowly. It’s shocking when you really consider movies that either have no female characters at all (Moneyball) or who subject their women to bland, meaningless conversations (Midnight in Paris). It’s kind of a given that The Help would fit on the list, though it doesn’t match the modified rule for characters of color, who must be able to talk about something other than white people.

A video like this highlights just how formulaic Hollywood has become, and how accepted it is for women to simply not interact on-screen.

You know which 2011 movie we loved that would pass the Bechdel test with flying colors? Martha Marcy May Marlene.