A few weeks ago we wrote about how leading roles for women in Hollywood were in short supply. Now it has emerged that even the movies that did feature women in main billing weren’t doing much to reduce gender inequality. Website the Silk applied the Bechdel Test to 1500 movies in the last five years, with 2014’s fare only getting a 55.4% pass rate overall.
The Bechdel Test works by asking one simple question? Do two named female characters have a conversation about something other than a man. It’s a low bar, yet modern scriptwriters can’t seem to inject the concept of a woman having a personality not contingent on a male partner into 50% of movies released in the last year. Depressing, eh?
Although things have been slightly improving in Hollywood with stories such as Wild and Still Alice drawing critical and audience acclaim, such a statistic is a cause for utter dismay. The only other years where films scored so low were 1998, 2002 and 2009.
Thankfully this year sees a strong crop of movies featuring women in leading roles with more to their fictional personalities than waiting for a man. The final installment in The Hunger Games franchise is released later this year and fellow dystopian movie Divergent with Shailene Woodley is in cinemas now. In the comedy arena we’re looking forward to the all-female Ghostbusters, Pitch Perfect 2 and have high hopes for Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck. In arty offerings Blake Lively tackles never ageing in The Age of Adaline while Juliette Binoche has a crisis of confidence in The Clouds of Sils Maria – which you can catch at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival this weekend.
The Bechdel Test now has such currency it is even inspiring film programmers to devote festivals to its measurement. Dublin’s Irish Film Institute ran a series of Bechdel approved movies last summer, including a premiere of ‘abortion romantic comedy’ Obvious Child, and this week in London sees the Bechdel Test Fest.
Have you been disappointed with the depiction of women on screen of late?
Follow Jeanne Sutton on Twitter @jeannedesutun