Something to Talk About

Cartoon of African-American girl with pigtails dressed as a superhero, with the caption #dayofthegirl

Question: What do The Lord of The Rings trilogy and the original Star Wars trilogy have in common?

Yes, they are awesome. Yes, they crushed it at the box office. And yes, we’re all big fans here at Caavo.

But that’s not it.

Answer: They all fail the Bechdel test:

  1. Does the movie have at least two women?
  2. Who talk to each other?
  3. About something other than a man?

The test is named after American cartoon artist Alison Bechdel, who in 1985 featured the idea in the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For. More than 30 years later, the Bechdel test has become a standard for evaluating how women are  portrayed in film.

Since then, there have been other versions of the test that go beyond gender to look at metrics for diversity both in front of and behind the camera (see the blog fivethirtyeight for more).

This year has brought historic success with films like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, but even my favorite film of the year so far, Sorry To Bother You, which flips everything else on its head fails to have more than one strong female lead. My favorite film of all time, Singing in The Rain, was made in 1952 and it passes the test beautifully on the gender front, but fails badly when it comes to diversity.

Throughout my career I have often been the minority in terms of gender. I’ve had years and years professionally that did not pass the Bechdel test at the leadership level, so what I saw on the screen didn’t consciously register as much more than a general reflection, although I have always cherished the moments on screen when I saw that mirror shattered, twisted and at times—proudly glowing.

We can and should hold our writers and filmmakers accountable to producing content that passes the extremely low bar that makes up the Bechdel test, as well as other metrics for inclusion. It’s insane to think that more than 50% of the movies made each year don’t include a single intelligent conversation between two women about something other than a man.

I look forward to all of us working to encourage the young girls we know to give the rest of us something inspiring and wonderful to talk about at home, at work, at play, and on the screen.

#DayoftheGirl #UnitedinEntertainment

- By Evelyn Krasnow, CMO, Caavo

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