Bechdel test revisited guardians of the galaxy

The Bechdel Test Revisited: Women in a Hero’s Journey

This article first appeared as Luna Station Quarterly’s Chick on the Draw column, September 5, 2014

There are three reasons Alison Bechdel’s famous test–one canny gag in an indie comic strip from 1985–has been embraced by entertainment critics, theorists, and journalists as the gold standard for determining whether a film has, Feminist Frequency describes it, “significant female presence”:

  • It’s dead simple.
  • It quantifies the vague.
  • It hilariously indicts movies that can’t jump the first bar.

The rule itself is offered by one character sick of macho “Barbarian”/”Vigilante” movie BS, and received by the other as “pretty strict, but a good idea.” At the time of its introduction, the rule was not presented as more than the preference of one woman tired of supporting an industry happy to exclude her (Bechdel’s friend, Liz Wallace.)

The Bechdel Test does not bother with shades of agency, complexity, or quality. It is simple. It is elegant. It is brass tacks.

So why do so few Hollywood movies pass it? And how can this be fixed?

(Final act spoilers ahead for movies released in 2014.)

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Rick and Morty Something Ricked This Way Comes

5 Best Current Animated Series That Pass the Mako Mori Test

This article first appeared in Luna Station Quarterly’s Chick on the Draw column on August 1, 2014.

Maybe you’re out of the cartoon loop. Maybe you don’t have cable TV. Maybe you’re a former fan who got super distracted by Breaking Bad. Well, there’s been no better time to reconnect. We live in a golden age of television, and animation is no exception–plus shows are passing the Mako Mori Test left and right (in most episodes, at least one female character has her own narrative arc distinct from any male characters’ arcs.)

If you have the time, these shows are ready to tickle your nucleus accumbens.

Here we go, in no particular order:

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