R.O.W.E. Week 7: Let’s Talk Women and Movies!

I’m Brianna Kratz, a Chicago poet and literature enthusiast. In 2016, I’m reading only women authors for my Read Only Women Experiment (R.O.W.E.). For weekly updates on challenges, conversations, and monthly round-up lists of books I’ve read, keep up with me via goodreads or Twitter. Photo courtesy Andrew Gingerich Photo courtesy Andrew Gingerich

It’s that time of year again! With the 88th Academy Awards ceremony airing on February 28, it’s Oscar season! That means I’m taking a break from talking about my reading to talk about women in film.

If we’re talking about women in film, we're also talking about the Bechdel test. In order to pass the Bechdel test, a movie must satisfy the following criteria:

1. The movie has to have at least two women in it,

2. who talk to each other,

3. about something besides a man.

You’d be surprised how many movies fail this simple test. The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, for instance. And the original Star Wars trilogy. However, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (go John Hughes!), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Guardians of the Galaxy all pass!

Female characters in movies overwhelmingly fall into disappointing stereotypical categories. Have you heard about Ross Putnam and Miss L’s Twitter accounts? They tweet script introductions of female characters and casting calls for women, respectively. Both are worth a read for a laugh and a cry.

I suspect that part of the problem stems from the lack of women behind the camera in film and television. The Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film provides great information about “women’s employment and portrayals in television and film.” According to their Big Picture Report for 2014, 85% of all 2014 films had no female directors, and that feels crazy to me, especially if women are purchasing 50% of movie tickets.

Bright side: this year, Margaret Sixel was nominated for the Academy Award in Film Editing for Mad Max: Fury Road, so that's something! 

In 2016, let’s encourage and support female directors, screenwriters, and cinematographers. See movies that make you think, and consider the gender roles. Be thoughtful about your movie choices. And don’t be afraid to talk about them.

For your Oscar viewing pleasure in the Chicagoland area, Mayne Stage is hosting a FREE screening of the Oscars with pop culture trivia during the commercial breaks!

More information:

Currently reading: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by: Laurie Viera Rigler

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Brianna Kratz

Brianna Kratz has a B.A. in English Writing from Illinois Wesleyan University where she learned the importance of "the poetic turn," the difference between thee and you, and how to read Middle English. She lives on the Internet where you can find her on Twitter and Lens & Ink.