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The Shukla Test
January 24, 2013 11:45 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been thinking about the Bechdel test for films where a film must have a) two or more main female characters who b) talk for five minutes about c) something other than men. It’s amazing to see that not many films pass this test. So, I’m initiating this now (unless it’s already been done…): The Shukla Test, for books, films and television where a) two main characters who are people who of colour b) talk for five minutes without c) mentioning their race.

Can anyone name some films that pass The Shukla Test?
posted by Blasdelb (68 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Can anyone name some films that pass The Shukla Test?

To Sleep with Anger.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:48 AM on January 24, 2013


Someone mentioned this on the G+. I think Forbidden Kingdom does.
posted by juv3nal at 11:49 AM on January 24, 2013


I'm pretty sure there are episodes of The Boondocks that would fail.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:52 AM on January 24, 2013


Does the 40-Year-Old Virgin count? I think Romany Malco and Shelley Malil have a few conversations about sex and work, but I'm not sure.
posted by toxtethogrady at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2013


What is important is to not only note the films that pass the test, but also the number of films that don't.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:55 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are droids colored?
posted by fleacircus at 11:56 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, but C3PO constantly spoke about his Droidness...ity(?).
posted by P.o.B. at 12:01 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also R2's beeping can hardly be considered talking. [NOT DROID-IST]
posted by juv3nal at 12:02 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Community passes in just about every episode I can think of.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:03 PM on January 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Community dedicates the last two minutes of every episode to passing this test.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:05 PM on January 24, 2013 [23 favorites]


Isn't the "for five minutes" an interpolation into the original Bechdel test? There aren't a whole lot of movies (American movies in particular) that feature any conversation as long as five minutes; that's a near-eternity of screen time.

As for the Shukla test, it's definitely a fair point and a useful consciousness-raising tool. There is one comment to be made in defense of writers who do feel the need to explicitly reference their "ethnic" characters' ethnic identities, which is that when you don't you open yourself up to the fairly common criticism that your character is just another white person in ethnic drag. Or, in other words, that you're failing to actually bring genuinely different experiences and understandings of the world into your story. So there is something of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" trap in there. Of course, that would dissipate pretty quickly if there were simply more films with more people of color who played major roles so that less anxious cultural analysis got freighted onto the few that do appear.
posted by yoink at 12:06 PM on January 24, 2013 [17 favorites]


Tom and Donna or Anne from Parks and Recreation whenever they share a subplot.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:08 PM on January 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I wonder if this test could use some tweaking. The Bechdel test makes not talking about men part of the criteria for good reason: It confronts a problematic issue with the characterization of women in film, namely that they are defined by their relationships to the male characters and are not really portrayed as "people" with full lives and motivations outside of that narrow sphere. Two female characters talking and bringing up that they are female, however, is not really a problem. In fact, it could be done in such a way that it is confrontational and progressive.

What are the biggest problems with the portrayals of people of color?

In my (admittedly limited) experience with mainstream media, it is full of colorblind racism. Race is rarely explicitly acknowledged, but it plays a large part in what kinds of roles actors of color can play.

Addendum: Community is interesting, since the characters (especially Troy and Abed) interact a *lot*, and occasionally bring up race. Does the fact that they bring up race in an episode disqualify the whole show, or the entire episode? Or does this balance out with the amount of non-race related conversation they have? Does it matter how race is brought up? I know this is a quick and dirty diagnostic (like the Bechdel test), but I think it's interesting to think about.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know if this is a great analogue to the Bechdel Test - part of the power of that was the striking degree to which women exist in film merely to prop up the stories of more three-dimensional men. Race in film is problematic, but I don't think it's a problem where a minority can't even talk with someone for five minutes without their race being brought up verbally. There's seriously NO movie he can think of where that's not the case?

Usually it's more sinister and implicit than that. It involves things that play into the race of the character in ways that are problematic. For example, I can't think of too many movies where an Asian character talks with another Asian character about their Asianness, but I can think of plenty of movies where those Asian characters are depicted as smart / nerdy / socially or romantically withdrawn / [insert stereotype here]. That's what's problematic, those signifiers of race and stereotype rather than what's spoken outright.

"but they only mention he’s Indian once, and a manchild nerd the rest of the time, so I guess that’s progress. " No no no, it's the pervasive idea that Indians have to be manchild nerds in our media instead of confident outgoing relationship material, etc. that's the problem here, not the one mention of him being an Indian. It bothered me in The Guild and a bunch of other stuff.

Are the minority characters just placed within a scene to add diversity, or to prop up the more significant stories of the white characters? Or to provide comic relief for the more serious/three-dimensional white characters? These are problems that this test won't necessarily account for...

I also think stuff like The Namesake would fail the test, but not for any flaws - it's a movie about being a second-generation Indian American and the confusion that comes with it, so thematically it makes sense that the Indian characters' Indianness is a big part of it. Similarly, why is Django Unchained considered an offender/racist when it's thematically all about slavery and race? There's something not quite right about this system, or at least applying it clinically.
posted by naju at 12:09 PM on January 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


naju, I don't want to turn this into a critique solely about Community, but I want to say that I completely disagree with your take on how Abed is portrayed. (at least that's who I'm assuming you're talking about. Your quote isn't an actual quote, so I'm guessing).
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:18 PM on January 24, 2013


Kutsuwamushi: "Does the fact that they bring up race in an episode disqualify the whole show, or the entire episode?"

I don't think the idea is that something would be disqualified for ever bringing up race. In order to pass it would just need to meet all three criteria at least once, correct?
posted by brundlefly at 12:19 PM on January 24, 2013


Yeah, his little subjective rating system was pretty broken.

These are problems that this test won't necessarily account for

They are accounted for in different ways, but regardless I dont believe that makes it worthless. I don't think there is an either/or between what you say is problematic with what he is talking about.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:20 PM on January 24, 2013


naju, I don't want to turn this into a critique solely about Community, but I want to say that I completely disagree with your take on how Abed is portrayed. (at least that's who I'm assuming you're talking about. Your quote isn't an actual quote, so I'm guessing).

Oh, no, that quote was the OP article talking about Safety Not Guaranteed (which I haven't seen.) I have no problems with Community or Abed!
posted by naju at 12:22 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The last one I saw that passes, that I can think of, that wasn't just a foreign film, would be Just Wright. It might be The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. Er, wait, or Red Tails though that had plenty of racial talk as well. Somehow I gave Think Like a Man a miss, and I've never seen a Tyler Perry film. Do the Harold and Kumar movies pass? I mean the TV show 24 passes, technically. I'm not sure if this test is so good.

An interesting thing about the Bechdel test is that it highlighted how even stories that were supposedly for women actually involved a whole lot of men as the topic of conversation or importance. Bollywood exists but there's no Bollywood for women.
posted by fleacircus at 12:28 PM on January 24, 2013


Tom and Donna or Anne from Parks and Recreation whenever they share a subplot.

I think this says more about my own (admittedly problematic) tendency to read whiteness as the default unless otherwise stated than anything else, but I don't think I've ever thought of Ann as a non-white character. I know Rashida Jones's background, but I still think of the character as white.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, no, that quote was the OP article talking about Safety Not Guaranteed (which I haven't seen.) I have no problems with Community or Abed!
posted by naju at 12:22 PM on January 24 [+] [!]

Oh sorry! I tried searching for it but failed. Carry on, then :D
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:30 PM on January 24, 2013


Yeah, I'm not sure it's important that it be a parallel test to the Bechdel, because anybody can quite reasonably make up any metric they want to try to make a point or provoke a discussion (which is what the Bechdel test is for), and there's no question that there's a place for pointing out the rarity of conversations that would pass this test. (Except for the "five minutes" thing, which I agree is an unrealistic addition to the Bechdel test, for the same reason mentioned above -- movies and television rarely have ANY two characters talk for five whole minutes.)

But for the record, I don't think this is parallel to the Bechdel test at all. "Where they're not talking about men" isn't the same thing as "where they don't mention or discuss being women." In fact, if two women in a movie couldn't talk about gender at all -- couldn't talk about being women, or problems they share because they're women, or sexism -- then the Bechdel test would be DQ-ing a lot of movies I don't think deserve to be DQd.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:33 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't the "for five minutes" an interpolation into the original Bechdel test?

Yes. So is "main characters." The original rule is that a movie has to have 1) at least two women in it, who 2) talk to each other, 3) about something besides a man. The bar is so low, and yet so few movies reach it.

I think the interpolation may say something about the idea that people involved in making decisions about what media reaches large audiences -- creators, producers, editors -- seem to have a hard time imagining that people marked as "other" could possibly avoid discussing their otherness at every opportunity.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:35 PM on January 24, 2013


DQ-ing

It took me a really embarrassingly long time to figure out that this had nothing to do with Dairy Queen.
posted by elizardbits at 12:46 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think this is problematic on at least 2 levels ; 1) "people of colour" is a much more contested and complicated identity group than "women". Many people who could be classified as do resist the identity (i.e. they much prefer to identify as African-American, Indian, Thai etc. without belongibg to a big "non-white" group) in a way that women don't; a Afro-American character talking to another Afro-American character reads differently from an Afro-American character talking to an East Asian American 2) the Bechdel test criticizes films where women only talk at length about not-selves ( men) who are also implicitly hegemonic. In this dude's race test, the films are condemned as "racist" when people of color in them talk only at length about racial identity. But why is this basic idea problematic, let alone "racist" from the progressive race politics perspective if they are talking about their own identity and race relations ( and not necessarily anything to do with whites)? A more accurate equivalent to the Bechdel test
would be to test films to see how many only have characters of colour talking at length with each other to talk about hegemonic whites or their relations with hegemonic whites.

I suspect that it is much easier to name films that pass that test though!
posted by Bwithh at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Many British movies & TV series cast black actors into roles in which race is not discussed at all. Freema Agyeman in the 2007 episodes of Doctor Who comes to mind.
posted by TDIpod at 12:48 PM on January 24, 2013


The Mindy Project -- which is excellent, by the way -- when she's talking with her brother. I doubt it goes on for five minutes in any one scene, but as pointed out above that's not in the original test.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:52 PM on January 24, 2013


A more accurate equivalent to the Bechdel test would be to test films to see how many only have characters of colour talking at length with each other to talk about hegemonic whites or their relations with hegemonic whites.

I think both of the tests are attempting to ask the same questions by simply checking if the dialogue is conferring a definition onto the characters by way of their relationship with another character, thereby losing autonomy. I don't think the Shukla test really does live up to that, but I would be interested in hearing a better one.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:09 PM on January 24, 2013


Bad Boys and Bad Boys II both pass!
posted by mightygodking at 1:09 PM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hummm. Wouldn't the exact analog be "Two people of color talking to each other about something other than a white person, or their relationship to a white person"? It strikes me that that test exactly is pretty damning, even without adding in the five minutes, or transforming the what-they-have-to-talk-about to something else. I mean, something can still pass the Bechdel test and still be extremely problematic in its portrayal of women. It was never meant as a one-stop metric of "is this movie not sexist?"

And it's equally true that people of color are often portrayed in media as also being vestigial characters, relevant only inasmuch as they are a part of a white character's story. Thinking here about the Magic Negro, the sassy black woman, the guru on the mountaintop, all of those archetypes that wind up in there when a writer is trying to Do The Right Thing and Put Some Diversity All Up In Here.
posted by Andrhia at 1:20 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah I think this would work better if it were changed to:

1. A movie or TV show that features at least two people of color,
2. who have a conversation
3. during which neither mentions their race.

Otherwise, I was kind of stuck - the only movie I could think of offhand which features any conversation between two people that lasts five minutes or more, regardless of the skin color of the people having it, was My Dinner With Andre. I know there are others, but again, off the top of my head.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:21 PM on January 24, 2013


By the way, there's a "Bechdeltest.com" website that rates movies according to the test; in 2012 70/151 rated movies fully passed the test (there are quite a few others that get rated as having two women who talk about something other than a man but for one reason or other the rating is still qualified as "dubious").
posted by yoink at 1:26 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beat Street! The Wiz! And many other musicals! Which is problematic in its own way...
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:26 PM on January 24, 2013


the only movie I could think of offhand which features any conversation between two people that lasts five minutes or more, regardless of the skin color of the people having it, was My Dinner With Andre.

I think every film by Eric Rohmer would probably qualify for the five minute conversations, but you're not getting a whole lot of ethnic diversity there.
posted by yoink at 1:27 PM on January 24, 2013


> I know there are others, but again, off the top of my head.

The last 15 minutes of The Devil's Advocate consists of Al Pacino screaming exposition in response to Keanu Reeves' confused questions, if that counts.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:30 PM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Night Catches Us probably passes the test but it's been a while since I've watched so I could be wrong. It's a great movie, though.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:33 PM on January 24, 2013


The Losers? Maybe Xxx 2 (the sequel, not the Vin Diesel one?). There must be plenty of action movies that pass.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 1:35 PM on January 24, 2013


I mean, it's a set piece, against the backdrop of the black power movement in the 60's, but it's not about Black people in the U.S., ruminating on being Black people in the U.S. It's about people, living through turbulence and pain and moving away from their pasts.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:37 PM on January 24, 2013


Presumably The Conqueror passes, right? And Charlie Chan, for that matter. In other words, I wish he'd framed this more as a way to think about movies and less as an test to absolutely determine whether a given work is racist or not.
posted by Copronymus at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2013


"Bad Boys and Bad Boys II both pass!"

Ha! That was my first thought too! So I'll just mention Romeo Must Die.

And if we're going for the criterium that other five minute blocks can include talks on race, all of the Rush Hour movies qualify.
posted by klangklangston at 2:06 PM on January 24, 2013


Also, most of the Urban Skills Competition genre of movies, e.g. Drumline, Step Up, etc.
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know there are others, but again, off the top of my head.

Stalker, for certain values of "conversation".

Also, quite a lot of Tarantino, but I suspect not much that passes this test.
posted by figurant at 2:22 PM on January 24, 2013


All of the Matrix movies, I'm pretty sure.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:33 PM on January 24, 2013


The Joy Luck Club
Jackie Brown
Four Rooms
Stand and Deliver
Bad Santa
Lean on Me


Grey's Anatomy
Cosby Show (obvs)
Battlestar Galactica (reboot)
ER
Scrubs
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:36 PM on January 24, 2013


Scrubs! Nearly every episode with Turk and Carla.
posted by sonika at 2:43 PM on January 24, 2013


Also, does The Wire count or is it out because it's, y'know, The Wire?
posted by sonika at 2:45 PM on January 24, 2013


I’ve been thinking about the Bechdel test for films where a film must have a) two or more main female characters who b) talk for five minutes about c) something other than men.

This "five minutes" thing is wholly new to me; it's not part of the original test, which was looking for any type of conversation at all (and any length of conversation) that didn't involve men. In screen time five minutes is longer than pretty much any single scene in a modern movie. And in the original strip which was the first mention of the test the movie which passed was Alien, because the women talk about the monster (which they do for about three seconds, if that).
posted by jokeefe at 3:01 PM on January 24, 2013


I don't think it's a problem where a minority can't even talk with someone for five minutes without their race being brought up verbally

Crucially, they have to talk to someone who's not white.

I don't think this test is formulated all that well, but this criterion points out a problem that is very real: It's really hard for the producers of mainstream media to imagine a story in which the the major characters are anything but white - or at least to imagine selling that story to a mainstream audience. Characters of color tend to interact with white characters, because characters of color are often members of ensemble casts, in supporting roles, or, in some cases, half of a duo.

Like the Bechdel test, this criterion is a proxy for both number of characters of color, and how central they are to the plot.

(There are exceptions to this lack of representation, but these tend not to be "mainstream." They come from overseas - India, China, etc - or are marketed towards a minority audience. There isn't really an equivalent for women, but I don't think that this means the test is pointless. It's important to look at how many films fail, and what kinds of films pass. Where are the films from, who are they marketed to, and what does the film say about race?)

Where it falls apart, IMHO, is that it doesn't address the stereotyping. I get that the author is trying to formulate a proxy for how defined by their race characters are, but I think that racist pigeonholing isn't usually explicit (though it sometimes can be) - it's implicit in the types of roles, problems, etc that characters of color have. And that varies by racial stereotype, so I don't think you could come up with just one test.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:11 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Curious. Are not whites a minority now? Globally speaking. Didn't Bollywood make more movies than Hollywood recently? How many white people are in Chinese movies? Isn't Nigeria pumping out huge volumes of movies? I suspect it has never been easier for people with fixated cultural prejudices to find media they can relate to. I think most movies made today don't even feature white people at all? If you want to challenge people's myopia maybe you should avoid myopic samples?

I suspect there is a global gender/race equilibrium in media even now...(i.e. 51% of 5 minute conversations between males; majority of speakers Han Chinese males around 20?). A gap between the distributions of such physical attributes and their manifestation in media would give a quantifiable metric for local marketing acumen or inequality of access for production capital. I suspect the US is less monotonic than any other market on the planet.
posted by astrobiophysican at 3:42 PM on January 24, 2013


I suspect the US is less monotonic than any other market on the planet.

But US media is still far more monotonic than its population, while China is overwhelmingly ethnically Chinese and India overwhelmingly Indian.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:45 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


In our home, we've been applying a similar test to films (and unsurprisingly, most of them fail) for almost as long as I've known about the Bechdel Test. I call it The Idris Test*. Like the Bechdel Test, it has three simple qualifying questions:

- Do two non-white characters
- speak to each other
- about something other than a white character?

And like the Bechdel Test, it does not indicate that a film's racial/ethnicity/privilege politics are beyond reproach; far from it! Plenty of movies that pass the Bechdel test do so by having women speak about frivolous or superficial or stereotypical matters; plenty of films that pass the Bechdel Test squeak through on a brief exchange between two women.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle passes the Idris Test with ease, but I thiiiiiiiiink it fails the Shukla test. In part, Harold & Kumar shows how its chief (non-white) characters deal with the bigotry and privilege of (some) white characters. The film explicitly and implicitly deals with race. In my book, that representation of experience makes it a better film.

The Bechdel Test isn't intended as a method by which to detect feminist films; it's a measure of just how invisible and without agency women appear to be in popular entertainment. The Idris Test works similarly: it's not so much a method of finding films that present a more realistically diverse view of the world; it's a method by which one can demonstrate how not-diverse most entertainment is, and how most films revolve utterly around the actions and desires of [white/male] characters.

I don't think I've ever thought of Ann as a non-white character. I know Rashida Jones's background, but I still think of the character as white.

In one of her characteristic gushing rambles, Leslie Knope says to Ann Perkins "I’ve said this to you before and I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you’re thoughtful and you’re brilliant. And your ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot."
posted by Elsa at 4:08 PM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]



I just mentally went through a bunch of TV shows I've seen over the past few weeks. A couple have been mentioned already.

There's also,

Hawaii 5-0
Scandal
Little Mosque on the Prairie

That's all I can come up with. Not very many.


I think one of the best shows in recent memory which was diverse both race and gender wise and treated both as a non-issue was BSG. Wish there were more show like it.
posted by Jalliah at 4:25 PM on January 24, 2013


I'm pretty sure Castle passes (at least the version without the five-minute minimum) based on the Esposito/Lanie romance arc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:29 PM on January 24, 2013


Are not whites a minority now? Globally speaking. Didn't Bollywood make more movies than Hollywood recently?

Bollywood does have its own problems. This is from an article by a female actor, published today:
Bollywood reflects the position of women in India rather accurately. Again, a few exceptions apart, women are portrayed as helpless beings whose only contribution to the plot of the film is as the love interest of the hero, or as the mother or sister of one of the principle male characters. Rarely does she pursue a career, preferring instead to take care of her house, her children and her man. She usually sings and dances, sometimes suggestively. The latter though is probably a departure from what women actually do in reality. But who cares? It panders to the fantasies of men. And it is for them that these films are largely made (again a few exceptions notwithstanding).

Enter the item number. More titillation, more objectification. Wrong? Perhaps not. The hoots and whistles clearly show that the audience - male of course - likes these pelvic thrusts and heaving bosoms. Films after all are meant to entertain. If this is what works, then why not? But the question to ask is, must films validate such blatant (even though in demand) objectification of women? Must films put a stamp of approval on such portrayals?
posted by vidur at 4:35 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe all three of the Predator films pass, but none of the Alien(s) films do.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:29 PM on January 24, 2013


Ironically, "Weeds" repeatedly passes both tests simultaneously, at least in the early seasons, by having two female African-Americans talking at length about drug-dealing.
posted by cromagnon at 5:38 PM on January 24, 2013


Tom and Donna or Anne from Parks and Recreation whenever they share a subplot.

April (and the actress who plays her) is Latina, so she would count as well. Well if you consider someone who has one Latin parent to be Latina, which I do, because I have one of those and that's what I consider myself. She seems to somewhat self-identify as well, at least according to some stuff in her IMDB bio. (On the show she mentions her mom being Puerto Rican, and she speaks Spanish, which enables her to run away to Venezuela with that Venezuelan government dude.)
posted by primalux at 8:57 PM on January 24, 2013


I was going to say "Nothing on TV has that problem, what are they talking about?" and then I realized I just watched four seasons of The Wire. Nevermind.
posted by mmoncur at 10:26 PM on January 24, 2013


The Bechdel Test and the Shukla Test are thought experiments and conversation starters. Don't mistake their "results" for any sort of binding diagnosis. After all, Sex and the City 2 passes the Bechdel Test, but Inglourious Basterds does not.

Also, of course Harold and Kumar passes the Shukla Test. Harold and Kumar have plenty of conversations that are not about race. The fact that racial issues are a framework behind the story's themes has nothing to do with the test itself, especially since not every scene even deals with those themes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:55 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is one comment to be made in defense of writers who do feel the need to explicitly reference their "ethnic" characters' ethnic identities, which is that when you don't you open yourself up to the fairly common criticism that your character is just another white person in ethnic drag. Or, in other words, that you're failing to actually bring genuinely different experiences and understandings of the world into your story. So there is something of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" trap in there.

I agree with this point, but at the same time, there's a difference between characters explicitly talking about their identity, versus just them being whoever they are. This is especially important in pop culture, as opposed to more self-consciously serious movies where issues are being tackled.

For example, in the Spy Kids films, they don't ignore the fact that the family is Hispanic, but at the same time, there aren't any scenes (AFAIK) where the characters have any sort of involved discussion about how they're different from non-Hispanic people. The story is about the family doing fun spy stuff, and not A Story About A Hispanic Family™, if that makes any sense.

There's nothing wrong with making your serious drama about racial/ethnic/whatever issues, but at the same time, there's nothing right about turning every minority character into a Minority Character™, especially in the pop culture realm.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:09 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It has already been done. But as I haven't seen anyone else mentioning the Johnson Test, might as well be done again. That said, there are more ideas of TV and films which pass the test there (four years out of date).
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:24 PM on January 25, 2013


The Bechdel Test and the Shukla Test are thought experiments and conversation starters. Don't mistake their "results" for any sort of binding diagnosis. After all, Sex and the City 2 passes the Bechdel Test, but Inglourious Basterds does not.

Sex and the City 2 was a terrible movie, but Inglourious Basterds had many, many scenes of men talking to each other, and none of women. I would call it a hard fail of exactly the sort the Bechdel test is going after, and I'm confused as to why you would use it as your counterexample. Tarantino is a great entertainer but I wouldn't call him a shining beacon of promoting women.
posted by ch1x0r at 6:48 PM on January 25, 2013


If Inglourious Basterds did have women talking to each other, but all they talked about was killing Hitler, would that count?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:29 AM on January 26, 2013


I would call it a hard fail of exactly the sort the Bechdel test is going after, and I'm confused as to why you would use it as your counterexample.

Because passing or failing the Bechdel test is a is a separate issue from having good women characters. You could have a movie about women talking about how "math is hard" for hours, and it would pass the Bechdel test, just as you could have a movie about two interesting, well-rounded women plotting to kill a mafia don, and it would fail the Bechdel test.

It's not a criticism of the Bechdel test, it's just an inherent limitation of these kinds of tests.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:40 AM on January 26, 2013


That's not a limitation, that's a feature: the test is so simple and asks so little of the movies, and yet most movies fail.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:10 AM on January 26, 2013


I get that, and it's telling how few movies pass, especially if you were to make a comparison to an opposite sort of test, but it's still a test unto itself, and not the ultimate determiner of whether or not a movie has well-developed women in it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:17 AM on January 26, 2013


Oh, I agree. It's the first test, but not the ultimate.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:41 AM on January 26, 2013


Oh hey guys, I just realized a movie that passes: GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

This will now be part of my argument for why it is the greatest American film of this decade.
posted by Tesseractive at 5:59 PM on January 26, 2013


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