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March 27, 2014
Posted at 7:39 am
 

Bechdel Test follow up

Well, my blog post about the Bechdel test generated a number of interesting reactions. And I think that some of the readers know my stories better than I do ;-)

So some of the responses went like this:
> Actually, the test can be viewed as sexism
> at the extreme end
> A test which "Lost" passes but "Australian
> Story" fails is by definition flawed.

Hah. Still, all tests are by their definition a blunt instrument. This is more along the lines of my thinking:

"I'll defend the Bechdel test. It doesn't mark a
movie as good or bad, or as sexist or non-sexist.
It does measure, to some extent, the presence of
female characters who have a life beyond their
relationships with men. To be sure, it is a blunt
instrument."

Still, I was surprised that Australian Story failed, 2 of the 3 main characters are females, they are so strongly characterised, and string characters. But it's Chris's story. So, yes, a blunt instrument.

but then this:

> As a measure of a film industry, it's quite
> powerful, especially considering the stark
> contrast between the number of films which
> pass the Bechdel test and the number which
> pass a gender-swapped analog.

yes, indeed.

> The Bechdel test is a measure of the laziness of
> writers that do not bother to portray female
> characters beyond the stereotype. I read a
> desire for complex, multidimensional characters
> in your work.

What can I say? I love females...

Also, I did get these comments:
> Actually, "Dragon's Backbone" does pass -- at
> least in my interpretation, for the unmodified
> test. Zia has a conversation with a "wizened old
> lady" healer in chapter 1 about Zia's health

> "Australian Story", but I expect it passes as
> well. Chris necessarily overhears any
> conversation in the story, but nothing I've
> read about the test suggests that his
> presence means a conversation doesn't count.

well, I wasn't sure ;-)

> There is some interaction in the Dragon's
> Backbone, at the end of Chapter 4. Zia and this
> woman talk a bit, then Zia kills her.

yeah. That counts. My teenage daughter, who's a serious Harry Potter fan, ran through the 8 movies and wasn't sure that the last one passed the test. But it does: Molly vs Bellatrix in the big battle.

I like "make love not war" - a test that passes two females intent on murdering each other and not two talking about love is A FAIL.

Finally:
> I would not pay much attention to that test.
> Australian Story was terrific. Please don't take
> your stories down over this stupid test.

Nah, I'm not taking anything down. But if you really liked it, go buy it on Kindle ;-) (or write me a review) see http://www.amazon.com.au/Australian-Story-Oz-Ozzie-ebook/dp/B006ACSLOY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395919894&sr=8-1&keywords=Australian+Story