Friday, March 4, 2016
Awesome Movies/TV Shows that Pass the Bechdel Test and the Mako Mori Test
Try finding a movie that actually passes it.
Here's how low this bar is: all four Twilight movies and fucking Fifty Shades of Grey passes it. Toy Story does not. Most superhero and action movies do not.
Now obviously, this test is not perfect. It's just a baseline for sexist bullshit in movies. There are some amazing, pro-feminist movies that fail this, usually because the lead is a woman who is in a man-dominated world. There's now such a thing as the Mako Mori test for such cases: there has to be at least one female character who gets her own narrative arc that is not about supporting a man's story, such as the character Mako Mori in Pacific Rim, or Jessie in Toy Story 2, or Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings. Generally speaking, if a movie passes both the Bechdel test and the Mako Mori test, it's not sexist and, therefore, doesn't piss me off.
So here they are, my list of personal favorites that have passed both Bechdel and Mako Mori, because we need more of this. (Warning: not every suggestion is fantasy, sci-fi, or horror; we got some historical fiction and action.)
In no particular order:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rey and Maz talk about Rey's destiny and the Force, and the story itself is about Rey (and Finn, but they're separate; she's not there to support his story any more than he's there to support hers).
(full review here)
The whole movie is Joy and Sadness talking/arguing, Riley talks to her mom, and everyone has their own arc.
As the title would suggest, the story belongs to a little girl named Coraline. She talks to several other female characters (her mother, the Other Mother, the old actresses in the basement, etc).
Based off of Neil Gaiman's book Coraline. Amazing and creepy AF.
Meridah and her mom have many conversations throughout the movie (though the mom doesn't say much after she gets turned into a bear, for obvious reasons) and both develop.
Whether or not you're sick of the songs, Elsa and Anna each have their own narrative arc and they talk to each other several times, but only once about a guy.
Toy Story 3
Molly's mom tells her to donate some of her toys (she donates Barbie). Later, Jessie and Mrs. Potato Head comfort Barbie about being abandoned by Molly. Barbie herself has her own narrative arc; Jessie, too.
Rapunzel and her mother talk about the world. The story itself centers on Rapunzel's dreams of seeing the lanterns, not about finding a guy. And psychotic mother has her arc.
Game of Thrones
Many, many, many times for many, many characters. One example: Dany talks to her handmaidens about her dragons all throughout season 2, as well as her plans for world domination (basically). Margery and her grandmother talk about Margery's future and politics, Arya and the nameless girl in the House of Black and White ("the waif" in the book) talk about death and whether or not Arya's ready to move on in her training...
(mostly full review here)
This one's somewhat tricky, because the entire movie is about Matt Damon's character and trying to save him. But there are multiple women in power (most of them being geniuses in some form or another), there's at least one thing where they talk about sciencey things and the ship, and the commander of the ship (who's a woman) has to deal with her guilt at leaving someone behind (albeit by accident) and deciding whether or not she wants to throw a mutiny to go back. So...thin line, but I'm putting it on here.
Wichita and Little Rock talk about schemes, zombie-killing, survival plans, etc., and their arc is separate from the boys'.
The manga and both animes are good with this. Though the anime Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the better of the two (because it follows the manga almost verbatim).
Alien and Aliens (but 3 and 4 really suck...)
Nobody's interested in dating or guys. The only topic up for conversation is alien-hunting and getting the hell out of dodge. And Ripley is a fucking badass.
Dark Knight Rises
Catwoman has her own story that includes her female buddy/protégé and they talk about stealing stuff.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Furiosa and the BAMF grannies!
The Lazerus Effect
One of my top 10 horror movies, mostly because there are so few stupid horror movie mistakes. It's all about how Zoe's turning evil, and she has a few conversations with Eva about sciencey things.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Gamora and Nebula argue in the beginning about who's better for the mission assigned to them, and then Gamora goes off and does awesome stuff (and yeah, she falls in love with Star-Lord in a predictable romance, but that's mostly minimized).
American Horror Story
Multiple women talk about multiple things, usually about killing people and survival.
(review of the latest season here)
Chloe Decker talks to her daughter in almost every episode about a variety of subjects, and she has her own narrative arc (the therapist does, too, to a lesser extent).
(review of the series so far here)
The main character (who's a woman, ergo it passes Mako Mori right there) tries to convince the crazy psycho sister that the house is haunted. It is a gothic romance, so naturally the majority of the conversations are about the romantic interest (but as the romantic interest is Tom Hiddleston I can't really blame them).
(full review here)
Because island craziness leads to feminists.
Premium Rush (spoilers)
So, this definitely passes Bechdel (Vanessa and Nima talk about moving out, and Nima's weird behavior and trust issues), but there's a lot of controvery on whether or not it passes Mako Mori.
The story centers on Joseph Gordon Levitt's character Wiley (a bike messenger) and the bad guy Detective Robert Monday. But the entire story is set in motion by Nima trying to get her son into the US, and learning who to trust to help her. Then again, you can't have a crazed maniac chasing down a bike messenger for what he's carrying unless someone gives the bike messenger something to carry, and that messenger is a dude. So I'm putting this on here because it's a good movie but there is some controversy around it.
It's guaranteed to increase your respect for bike messengers a hundredfold.
Also controversial. It passes Mako Mori, but Bechdel? Every time the women talk it's about men and marriage, although there is one scene where Mulan's mom and grandma talk about the lucky cricket. But the cricket being lucky for the matchmaker and marriage...
Beauty and the Beast
Also, controversial for Bechdel. Belle and Mrs. Potts talk about what to wear to dinner...dinner with Beast. :/
Also, I don't like this one as much, even though it's a prime example of Stockholm syndrome.
Jude (main character) talks about her career with her mother and Bellweather.
Also, this one gets bonus points for tackling racial issues.
I hesitate to put this one here, not because it might have failed one of the tests (it didn't; it passes with flying colors), but I'm not sure if I should rate it as "awesome." It was okay. But my sorority sisters will eat me alive if I say otherwise, and I need to pick my battles wisely and conserve my strength for when someone wants to put in a romantic comedy, which, no, no, NO.
Speaking of sorority sisters, the following list comes highly recommended by my dear sisters. I haven't seen most of them myself, but they have the DT Stamp of Approval:
How to Get Away with Murder
Sorority Row (I cannot believe Kay* insisted on this movie; it's laughably bad, as I explained here)
Girls (on HBO)
Pretty Little Liars
Sons of Anarchy
Law and Order SVU
How I Met Your Mother
Princess and the Frog
Parks and Recreation
Once Upon a Time
If you know of any others, let me know! It's very possible I forgot something or haven't seen something that should be on here.
For more on the Bechdel test in Hollywood, go to this article. It's amazing.
*Kay is not her real name.
Thanks for reading! :)
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns and don't feel comfortable using the little comment box below, then please contact me directly.