Feminism in Film

How women are represented in movies and television

As we dive into the heart of award’s season, many critics have commented on the representation of women and minorities in Hollywood. Many people have come forward with a tool to measure female representation: the Bechdel test.

The Bechdel test is based on a tongue-in-cheek comic strip created by Allison Bechdel in 1985. In order for a movie to pass this test, it must have two female characters, with names, and they must talk to each other about something other than a man, according to bechdeltestfest.com. In 2018, out of the 110 top-grossing films, only 33.1% of speaking roles went to women, according to vogue.co.uk.com.

Although this criterion seems fairly simple, there are quite a few movies that do not pass. Some of these include “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Avengers,” “Tenet,” “Avatar,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “John Wick” and more. However, the test receives criticism because of some of the feminist-style movies that do not pass: “Gravity,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Arrival,” and “Salt.” These four movies have strong female leads that are the heroine in the story, but still, they fail the Bechdel test. In contrast, “Weird Science,” “Remember the Titans,” and “Goodfellas” do pass, all according to bechdeltest.com. The test may not be a good indication of feminist films, but it does show how male-dominated the film industry is.

Beyond the Bechdel test, Hollywood is criticized for its choice in the types of women it represents. Women who do not fit the societal standard for pretty may be overlooked for roles simply based on that criteria.

“There’s plenty of representation of skinny white women in film, but girls who don’t look like that want to see a heroine that looks like them on screen too,” senior Abby Doria said.

In addition, many older actresses are replaced in movies by younger women, while the male co-star remains. And oftentimes, the woman cast is decades younger than the older actor, according to people.com. Furthermore, teenagers are often played by women in their 20s, setting up a dangerous societal standard.

“I think the casting of older actresses as younger characters is damaging to the young female viewer,” Doria said. “There are teenage girls who think that they’re supposed to look like Camila Mendes or Lili Reinhart because they play teenagers on ‘Riverdale.’”

Representation of women has come a long way, however, it is clear that there is still work that needs to be done.

Don’t Pass:
The Avengers
The Imitation Game
The Lord of the Rings
Finding Nemo
Thor: Ragnarok
The Trial of the Chicago Seven
Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Gemini Man
The Irish Man
John Wick
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Mule
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Baby Driver
Assassin’s Creed
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Doctor Strange
Jason Bourne
The Secret Life of Pets
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
The Maze Runner
The Spectacular Now
The Dark Knight Rises
The Lorax
Iron Man 3
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: Civil War
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Avengers: Infinity War
The Incredible Hulk

Surprising Not Pass:
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Proud Mary

Surprising Pass:
Weird Science
Remember the Titans
Jurassic Park
The Karate Kid