April 20, 2010

"Kick-Ass" Females Don't Pass The Bechdel Test

Guest post: Rachel O

Warning: Big Spoilers For Kick-Ass Ahead

This weekend I went to go see Kick-Ass.  I went to go see it for a couple reasons.  First I’ve been a fan of superhero action films since I was dragged to X-Men when I was 16.  Second, articles about the character of Hit Girl, an eleven year old assassin, were popping up everywhere, something that’s increased 100 fold since it opened on Friday.  The response to the foul-mouthed and hyper violent adolescent has been overwhelming, with everyone chiming in to voice their opinion.  However, while I found the purple haired killer plenty problematic, there were some issues I had with the other women in the film, that I haven’t yet seen addressed.

Kick-Ass has only a handful of female characters.  This is the doing of the original author of the comic the film was based on, Mark Millar, when he decided the original main characters of Hit Girl and Big Daddy, were “…not lead characters…too cartoonish…”  Two of the three mothers are dead (one dies of a brain aneurism in the first five minutes, the other dies of a drug overdose in a comic book panel.)  Red Mist’s mom, the only one who’s alive, has two lines, and is never present, despite the fact that many scenes take place in her home.  A final scene shows the family penthouse in lockdown in preparation for a final battle, but the mom is mysteriously absent – I guess she was out that day?


March 29, 2010

Must see: WAM! Los Angeles playlist for Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian rocked WAM! LA Thursday night. We can’t wait for her to return to LA. Check out her incredible playlist. Originally posted at Feminist Frequency, March 26, 2010. Cross-posted with permission.

I had such a fantastic time presenting at Women, Action and Media (WAM) in LA on March 25th, 2010.  I curated a show of online videos including remixes, vlogs, vids and short documentaries made by women.  Staying true with WAM’s mission, these videos represent women taking action through media to talk about issues important to their lives and talking back to the media that so often misrepresents, stereotypes and victimizes us.

Celebration of Short Online Videos Made by Women from Feminist Frequency on Vimeo.

Below is the playlist of the videos I showed:

Bechdel Test – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLF6sAAMb4s
Feminist Free Association – Girl Drive http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oDEr8IT9IY
Revisioning Pretty Woman – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ2H37m_Yt8
Queering Real Housewives – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shIYoOH4m3Y
Harry Potter and the Brokeback Mountain – http://www.politicalremixvideo.com/2009/03/03/harry-potter-and-the-brokeback-mountain/
It Started with a Kiss – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hs1W0OOQP4
Dance Floor Star Trek – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deQuFc3BP74
Too Many Dicks: Video Games – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PJ0JPLg_-8
I’m your man – http://www.politicalremixvideo.com/2009/03/02/im-your-man/
It Depends on What You Pay: Dollhouse – http://www.politicalremixvideo.com/2009/07/24/dollhouse-it-depends-on-what-you-pay/
Women’s Work: Supernatural Vid http://www.politicalremixvideo.com/2009/04/08/womens-work/
Planet of the Arabs – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi1ZNEjEarw
Black as Me – http://vimeo.com/4080308
If Men Menstrated – http://vimeo.com/4638455
The Revolution will be Televised – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfJd0Q8HjPw

March 23, 2010

The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies

Originally posted at Feminist Frequency by Anita Sarkeesian and cross-posted at Gender Across Borders.

The Bechdel Test is a simple way to gauge the active presence of female characters in Hollywood films and just how well rounded and complete those roles are.  It was created by Allison Bechdel in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985.  It is astonishing the number of popular movies that can’t pass this simple test.  It demonstrates how little women’s complex and interesting lives are underrepresented or non existent in the film industry.  We have jobs, creative projects, friendships and struggles among many other things that are actually interesting in our lives… so Hollywood, start writing about it!

Check out other great blogs and commentary about the Bechdel Test:

  1. The Bechdel Test Movie List: here you can find a long, long list of movies and where they rate on the Bechdel Test.
  2. Why Film Schools Teach Screenwriters Not to Pass the Bechdel Test’s by Jennifer Kesler.  This is a must read – exposing the systemic problems of the film industry starting with film school.
  3. See the original comic strip “The Rule” here.
  4. You can visit Allison Bechdel’s site here and I highly recommend her graphic novel Fun Home
  5. Over at the Blog “The Angry Black Woman” she adapted the Bechdel Test to apply to race.  Take a look: The Bechdel Test and Race in Popular Fiction