Boycott films that fail Bechdel

I love films and I love going to the cinema. I like all sorts of films from sci-fi to romantic comedies. I like anything which has an interesting story that is well told.

So, I’ve made a big decision. I am not seeing paying to see a film in the cinema or renting, which fails the Bechdel test.

The test has 3 levels:

You would think that given 50% of humanity is female, this should be an easy criteria to fulfil.

You’d be wrong.

In 2015 I am utterly dismayed that many films fail all 3 of these counts. Most films pass the first test (having more than 2 named female characters) but fail the other 2 (their conversations are always about a male character).

So directors, producers and studios are telling all the women which see their films that they are not allowed to speak unless it is about or to a man. This is such a gross misrepresentation of women, yet film-makers persist in propagating these mysogynistic myths.

Under-representing women in this way is oppression, so I am boycotting any film which fails the Bechdel test.

Currently this means not seeing the following films:

The Tipping Point

The tipping point for me was the new Ghostbusters film. The hatred poured onto the cast, director and studio, who had dared to cast 4 women as the eponymous heroes of the film, astounded me. There were over 40,000 disgustingly racist twitter comments directed at Leslie Jones, which should be deemed racially incited hatred and investigated by police. The director and cast received death threats. Several people said this film “destroyed their childhood”.

All of that is unacceptable.

I love Ghostbusters (1984). I saw it when I was 8 years old in Cardiff’s ABC cinema (a converted old theatre which is now a Primark). The thing I loved most about it was that they were scientists. There are some great lines in the original (“Back off! I’m a Scientist”, “Shhh. Do you smell something?”) and the characters were flawed, clever, and only heroic because nobody else stepped up. I can relate to those characteristics. I didn’t care that the four Ghostbusters were men, and really didn’t like Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, who properly stalks Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver).

I hate to tell you, Ghostbusters (1984) is not perfect.

Spoilers alert

I have been to see Ghostbusters (2016) twice and loved it both times (one of those was in a drive-in - it was amazing!). It also is not perfect but has all the essence of the original. It passes the Kermode “6 laugh” test allowing it to be genuinely called a comedy, especially on the second viewing, when I wasn’t worried about how good it would be. There are far too many cameos (the one by Ozzy Osborne is frankly ridiculous and will age the film terribly).

Paul Feig included much of the original feel of the film.

All of these were deliberate nods to the things the fans love, but don’t get in the way of the story. They are different enough to the original that they are definitely not a result of lazy script writing.

I love the final scene where 4 middle aged women, not lycra clad teenagers, exhaustedly and determinedly outwit and defeat the Big Bad.

Ghostbusters (2016) is wonderful. Go and see it without any preconceived ideas of how good your memory of the original is.

Finally

If this amount of hatred is out-poured over a film having 4 female characters in the main roles, Hollywood is broken. I am not giving money to an industry which deludes the audience into believing people should not be treated equally and fairly because of gender, race, culture, or sexuality.

I have zero tolerance towards sexisms and other forms of bigotry. I will stand up to anyone who has a problem with that.