Tuesday, September 14, 2010

car-free women in movies

Recently (and by recently, I mean a long time ago, but I forgot to post anything), I read two really good pieces about film, and I think I’m going to start applying them to movies I watch.

The first is the Bechdel Test. There's even an online database of the Bechdel Test applied to movies. Basically, this test applies three questions to every movie:
  1. Does the movie have at least two women in it?
  2. Do the women talk to each other?
  3. Do they talk about something besides a man?
Seems simple enough, but according to data collected in the database, 10% of movies don't even meet one of the above-listed criteria.

The second is based on this article:
Greenberg is just the most recent film in which a character's non-automobility—whether for lack of a car or for lack of the ability to drive—is used for comic effect, whether as a metaphor for a deeper personality flaw or as a token of marginality and/or plain creepiness...Or perhaps it's the wider society that has trouble conceiving of life outside the omnipresent sphere of what sociologist John Urry calls 'automobility,' one tenet of which is 'the dominant culture that organizes and legitimates socialities across different genders, classes, ages and so on; that sustains major discourses of what constitutes the good life and what is necessary for an appropriate citizenship of mobility; and that provides potent literary and artistic images and symbols'...The list of prominent bicyclists in film history includes misfit teens (Napoleon Dynamite), eccentric Einstein-like scientists (the license-less Jeff Goldblum character in Independence Day, in which the bike is, admittedly, shown as a pretty decent way to escape Manhattan), vaguely countercultural types (Mark Wahlberg's character in I Heart Huckabees, or Carl Bernstein in All the President's Men) perpetual man-children (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure), and people who otherwise refuse to grow up or are out of touch with real life and the working world.”

Next time I watch a movie and can remember to do so, I'll post how that movie compares with the two tests above.

1 comment:

Jen (booizzy.com) said...

Perhaps we should start a petition. On the walking and PT front, there are a lot of neurotic New Yorkers in movies who specifically don't have cars.