Tagged: bechdel test

The Panels of LadiesCon 2017

As you saw in last week’s post, we’re all super excited about everything we have planned for you at LadiesCon 2017. Our panels at the last LadiesCon were very popular and this year’s panels promise to be bigger and better than ever. And thanks to our new location at the Armory, you can check them out in the very same building as the vendor floor.

Want a preview of a few of the panels we’re presenting? Read on!

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Bechdel Test: The Pixar Films – Part One

It’s time once again for the Bechdel Test, that ever-popular method of kind of sort of determining the feminist value of movies and other works of fiction. As I’ve said before, the Bechdel Test is actually better at identifying trends than it is at determining the quality or feminism of an individual film. So when I do the Bechdel Test, I like to apply it to groups of movies. Last time, the Disney princesses took the test. This time, it’s Pixar’s turn.

Why Pixar? Well, obviously I like animation. If I’m going to be spending some time scrutinizing a bunch of movies, it might as well be movies I’m interested in. Pixar also has a good-sized but still manageable catalog of films, enough to make for interesting analysis without taking me months to tackle. The Pixar films also make for a good comparison with the Disney Princess movies. They share many aspects beyond being animated, yet also differ in the kinds of stories they tell and the eras the movies come from. And finally, Pixar has been criticized in the past for making largely male-centric movies while relegating their female characters to secondary, though still strong, roles. While subjecting the Pixar movies to the Bechdel test may not support or refute this criticism, it could shed some light on the subject.

In case anyone has forgotten, the Bechdel Test consists of three rules. First, the movie in question must contain at least two female characters. Second, two female characters must have at least one conversation with each other. Third, at least one of these conversations must be about something other than a male character. The rules seem simple, but as I found out when applying the test to the Disney Princess movies, there’s a lot left to interpretation, such as what counts as a conversation, whether the mere mention of a male character disqualifies a conversation, whether the presence of a male character disqualifies a conversation, and so on. Since the Bechdel Test was originally written as the topic of a single page comic rather than a serious attempt to analyze film, there’s a lot of ambiguity.

So that’s the preliminaries out of the way. On to the films! Continue reading

Bechdel Test: The Disney Princesses – Part Two

Last month, I ran the first six movies starring Disney’s official princesses through the Bechdel Test. For those of you keeping score, the results were four passes to two fails. Now I’m going to tackle the five most recent Disney princess movies. Will they fare better or worse than their predecessors?

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Bechdel Test: The Disney Princesses – Part One

I’ve often wondered about how certain groups of movies would hold up to the Bechdel Test. So today, I’m going to start scrutinizing the films featuring the eleven official Disney princesses. Since there are eleven movies and I anticipate having a bit to say about each of them, I’m going to split this post into two.

What is the Bechdel Test?

The Bechdel Test is a series of pass or fail requirements applied to works of fiction, most frequently movies. It is named after cartoonist Alison Bechdel and first appeared in her long running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. It has since been taken up by the general public as a test of how realistically female characters are treated in a work of fiction. As many writers examining the Bechdel test have noted, it is not terribly useful as a judge of an individual film’s quality or even its value as a feminist work, since films that are not exactly shining examples of feminism have passed the test. The Bechdel Test is best for looking at groups of films – a particular year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees or the top grossing films of the year – or comparing the pass/fail rates between groups of films and seeing what trends emerge.

The original Bechdel Test consists of three qualifications:

1. The film must have at least two female characters. A common addition to this rule is that the characters must be named. Under most circumstances, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable request, but I’m leaving it off because it doesn’t appear in the original comic strip and for reasons that I’ll go into shortly.

2. The two female characters must have at least one conversation.

3. At least one of these conversations must be about something other than a male character. The original says “about a man,” but I’m changing it to “male character” since “a man” can suggest that the character in question has to be an adult or a romantic interest for one or both of the female characters.

Now that we all understand the rules, let’s get to the movies!

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Comicazi Book Club: Fun Home- Alison Bechdel


Recently, the Comicazi Book Club read Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel, Fun Home. A more indie book to be sure, though also one with a lot of critical acclaim. In the CBC we take turns leading book discussions (coming up with questions, facilitating the discussion), and Fun Home was my book to lead. Thankfully there is no shortage of issues to discuss (unlike some of the other books I’ve had to do….I’m looking at you Silverfish).
This graphic novel largely looks at the complicated relationship the author had with her father. Spoiler……… though it is mentioned fairly early in the book, at age 44 Bechdel’s father stepped in front of a Sunbeam bread truck, and was killed. Though the investigation was inconclusive, Bechdel herself concludes he committed suicide.
A heavy theme in this book is sexuality/gender roles, specifically Bechdel discovering her own – on first seeing a truckstop bull-dyke, and her growing realization that her father was a closeted gay man. Bechdel and her father both try to find the stereotypical gender roles in each other – with neither living up to the others expectation. Continue reading