Women make up about half of the world population and 51 percent of the U.S. population. The diversity encompassed in that approximately 50 percent is, for the most part, unrecognized by the general population. This is mostly due to the misrepresentation of women in the media. According to CNN, Americans devote ten hours and thirty-nine minutes to consuming media, and films and television shows are a huge part of this consumption. Thus, film and television are hugely influential on how people view the world. When women are sexualized and portrayed as lesser than the male characters, that is how they will be viewed in real life.
The Bechdel Test is the most popular way to tell if a film portrays women somewhat realistically. It became popular in 1985 by Allison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For. In order for a film or television show to pass the Bechdel Test, it must have at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. This is not something that is particularly difficult to write into a script, so it is frustrating that, even now, films and television shows that don’t meet these criteria are being released. The numerous advancements toward intersectional equality for women have been made since the beginning of the film industry make this especially frustrating.
This year alone, twelve films that have been released have not passed the Bechdel Test. That may seem like a small number in the grand scheme of things, but considering that it is 2017, there should be no movies that do not pass the Bechdel Test and its alarmingly simple criteria. One particular film that did not pass the test this year is Baby Driver, which was released on June 28. There are only two main female characters: Deborah and Darling. Deborah is described as a “young waitress who befriends Baby,” the main character. Darling is the wife of a bank robber who Baby works for as a getaway driver. Both women are seen as love interests and there is not one single conversation between the two that does not involve a man.
Baby Driver isn’t the only film this year that has failed to portray women realistically. The Boss Baby, Get Out, Kong: Skull Island, The Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales all did not portray women as independent from the male characters.
It is hopeful, however, that the majority of films released so far this year have passed the Bechdel Test and have two or more female characters who contribute to the plot. Wonder Woman is certainly one, along with Beauty and the Beast, Power Rangers, and Rough Night, among others.
Yes, the world has come a long way since the film and television industry began. But, one would think that female characters in film and television would be portrayed as realistically as possible, just like the male characters. It isn’t that hard to make a film or show that passes the Bechdel Test. Imagine what it would be like to create something that portrays women exactly how they are in real life: smart, funny, loud, fat, thin, tall, short, brown, black, white, queer, trans and most of all real.