When I declared my intention to only pay to see Bechdel-passing films in 2013 on Twitter, I got an interesting response. Quite a few people retweeted my original tweet and the tweet with a link to this blog had a bunch of retweets and favourites which either shows that some people are interested in this, or that lots of people are indiscriminate retweeters and favouriters with no idea what they are doing. I will choose to assume that some people are interested in this experiment of mine.
I also had a bevy of men (only men) saying things like “you’ll be missing out on so many great films!” with a tone wrapped up in heated concern, as if I’d decided to give up eating for a year rather than choosing not to pay to see films without women in them. One said to me, “it’s not always possible to have two women in a film”. Seriously, pal? But it’s always possible to have two men in a film, isn’t it? What a ludicrous argument that shows how skewed the representation of women in film is!
OH GOD! I WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE JACK REACHER OR THE HOBBIT IN THE CINEMA! REACH FOR THE BLEACH! LIFE ISN’T WORTH IT!
I will address those who are so concerned about me “missing out” on all these great films with a few points.
1. I’m not ‘missing’ anything. I’m not paying money to see any new film that doesn’t pass the Bechdel test in 2013. If it’s the movie of the century, I’ll see it next year when it comes out on DVD. Calm yourself down. Get some perspective, dude.
2. Why is there the assumption that all the best films will definitely fail the test? What does that say about the movie industry? Films that are about or feature women don’t make good movies? I definitely don’t think that’s true. What that says is that the film industry’s default setting is to tell male stories using men. You know what? I’ve seen a lot of male stories told by men. Yes, some of them are excellent, but I don’t need anymore right now. I want one year when the movies I pay for tell other stories that feature women, because my life features a hell of a lot more women than are seen on screen.
3. Somebody suggested that I do the “really unexpected” thing and only watch films that fail the test. I pointed out how that is essentially what everyone does anyway, so is not only “expected” but the basic norm.
4. Why this panicked rush to ‘save’ me from ‘missing’ all this ‘great art’? I don’t know exactly, but I can guess that because my choice is a rejection of the status quo and an implicit demand for change, that unnerves people. Change is difficult and scary. People love movies. If there are more women in movies it might RUIN MOVIES FOREVER, is the thought that tickles the subconscious of the unthinking misogynist (or the conscious mind of the upfront misogynist). Another is: WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEN IN MOVIES, IT’S THE BEST & THAT’S WHY IT’S LIKE IT IS. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with movies about & featuring men, I just want more that feature women. My life isn’t mostly about men and their stories and I no longer want my art to be.
I don’t think my choices or this experiment will change anything except my own experience. However, I am really looking forward to a year of seeing more women on screen and I’m excited about how that might make me feel, or might change my own perspective. I don’t think it will be super easy to find a Bechdel-passing film each week, but as tasks go, it’s hardly diamond mining.