“Boys Don’t Cry” is a film about a transgendered man. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a watch. “Boys Don’t Cry” is also an example of a film that passes what is known as the “Bechdel Test.” That is, a movie that (1) has at least two women in it (2) who talk to each other (3) about something besides a man. This test, as I understand it, is intended as a kind of social therapeutic to draw attention to Hollywood’s male-centric film industry. And as far as that goes, it sounds like a good idea.
The idea behind the Bechdel Test is that women’s stories aren’t being told. But, ask yourself, are men’s stories really being told? (Okay, don’t roll your eyes and say “Oh, Jesus.”) Seriously, though. Think about some of the films that don’t pass the Bechdel Test. Pulp Fiction, for example. Now, I enjoyed Pulp Fiction. It was a lot of fun. But does it “tell my story?” Not exactly:
(I mean, the last time I shot someone in the face, it was, like, totally different from how they showed it in the movie.) What about “GoodFellas” or “Reservoir Dogs” or “Trainspotting?” Good movies? Yes. Do they pass the Bechdel Test? No. Do they “tell my story?” No, not at all.
Which doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily against the Bechdel Test. But it seems to me that the real problem is that we need more well written, character driven films, and less mass marketed crap. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a film that portrayed an adolescent boy in a way that was thoughtful, and that examined his life and problems in a meaningful way? I can think of the film “Ordinary People,” which came out in 1980, and… and… Well, I’m not up on all the films that are out there, and I’m sure there’s been a thoughtful portrayal done since, but none comes to mind.
So by all means, lets have more women, more gays, and more minorities portrayed as more than extras and supporting characters in films. But don’t think for a minute that the average guy feels that his story is being told when he goes to the movies. It isn’t.