By Rachel Cannon |Chronicle Blogger|
It I’d heard were strong female characters and a movie that, if my Facebook newsfeed is to be believed, is pretty much universally considered “completely awesome”.
I hated it.
Aside from the fact that there was only two major (actually, it’s a stretch to say two) female roles in such a large ensemble cast, I was majorly irked that this movie — which had been so overhyped and which was directed by Joss Whedon who is typically considered to be a forward-thinker in the world of feminist representations on screen, failed what should be a very simple test.
The Bechdel test was created in 1985 to expose Hollywood’s sexism. It’s actually incredibly easy: all that is required for a movie to pass is that it has at least one scene in which two female characters talk to each other about something other than a man.
Yup, that’s it. Should be a breeze, right?
There are actually thre
e named female characters in this movie: Agent Natasha Romanoff, alias Black Widow; Agent Maria Hill; and Pepper Potts.
Despite this fact, none of the female characters talk to each other once in the entire film.
Why does this matter? Because it emphasizes the fact that women are underrepresented in Hollywood, and when they are onscreen, they are almost always reduced to a sex object or an accessory or a male’s love interest..
It’s really a mystery as to why Hollywood continues to treat women in such an offhand way. Recent research from the Motion Picture Association of America found that women actually buy more movie tickets than men do.
Why then, do films refuse to market them? Women have amazing stories that, when given the chance, translate to some amazing books, music and films. Screenwriters may believe that these stories won’t translate to ticket sales, but obviously, this recent study suggests otherwise: in 2009, women bought 55% of all movie tickets.
With “The Avengers,” I really had high hopes that this major blockbuster would show moviegoers the potential for women as key elements of plot, rather than mere eye candy.
Sadly, I was disappointed, which was a major upset coming from Whedon, a director who has shown us that he knows women’s stories are powerful with his previous filmography – “Buffy” or “Firefly,” for example.
But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. An incredibly low percentage of movies, especially the major blockbusters, actually pass Bechdel.
The most recent “Harry Potter,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” films all failed.
Many beloved Disney movies fail, and even some chick flicks do, usually due to the fact that no female conversations exist in the film that do not center around a man in some way.
It should be pointed out that the Bechdel Test is not a definitive test on whether a movie is feminist. In fact, my favorite film, “Inglourious Basterds,” features two strong female roles that are completely empowering and well-written, but the movie simply never calls for them to converse with each other.
But it works as a test that exposes the overall to trendy trend of Hollywood relegating women to accessories.