Google+ Girls on film

Monday, 13 January 2014

Which Golden Globe-winning films pass the Bechdel test?

Last night, the winners of the Golden Globes were announced, a much-awaited precursor to the Oscars, which will be taking place on March 2 2014.

But how many of the winners pass the feminist Bechdel Test?

Here are the rules:

1. It must include at least two named female characters

2. These characters must speak to each other

3. They must speak to each other about anything other than men

Let's see the results...

How did the Golden Globe winning films fair on the feminist Bechdel Test

There are several films in there that you may argue are unfair to judge against the Bechdel test. Gravity doesn't have enough characters, full stop, to come close to passing. Mandella: Long Walk to Freedom, is about a man, as is Behind the Candelabra. The fact these films don't pass the test doesn't mean they are anti-women. But the Bechdel test isn't designed to test films individually. It's an indicator of the lack of female representation in the industry as a whole.

So.. here are the overall stats:

If you count each film once (rather than by wins in different categories): Four out of 12 Golden Globe-winning films pass the Bechdel test.

If you instead look at the number of wins, you get something more promising. Seven out of 15 wins at the Golden Globes were taken by films that passed the Bechdel test. That's nearly half.

We've already seen a correlation between the biggest money-making films and those that pass the Bechdel test in 2013. Let's hope this is a sign that the top critically-acclaimed films are starting to see a similar trend.

Here is the full list of winning films:

12 Years a Slave
Best Motion Picture (Drama)

Dallas Buyers Club
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) - Matthew McConaughey;
Best Performance by an Actor in a supporting role in a Motion Picture (Drama) - Jared Leto

American Hustle
Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) - Amy Adams
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting role in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) - Jennifer Lawrence

Blue Jasmine
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) - Cate Blanchett

The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) - Leonardo Dicaprio

Best Director of a Motion Picture - Alfonso Cuaron

Best Animated Feature Film

Behind the Candelabra
Best Performance by an Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television - Michael Douglas
Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

The Great Beauty
Best Foreign Language Film

Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Best Original Song in a Motion Picture - "Ordinary Love"

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Infographic: Is female representation improving in Hollywood films?

I decided to take a look at how many of the top 50 grossing films in 2013 passed the feminist Bechdel test. Here's what I found:

Note: The 2013 results are slightly different to this infographic as I used a different source for the top grossing films. If anyone knows whether any of the films I am missing pass the Bechdel test, and why, drop me a comment and I can update the data.

Below is a link to the image if you would like to reuse it.

How many 2013 movies pass the feminist Bechdel test?

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Canary in a Coal Mine kickstarter appeal for a film about ME, and my struggle with the illness

It was June 2012. I had just moved in with my boyfriend. I had a blossoming career as a journalist. I had lots of friends and lots of laughs. I distinctly remember this feeling, that I can only describe as a mix of happiness and fulfilment, filling my mind.

This can't last forever, I thought.

That was when I came down with a series of odd neurological symptoms. First part of my face went numb, then my arms. Eventually it spread in patches over most of my body. My scalp was the worst as it tingled and itched, like bugs were biting away at it.

At the same time I was tired. So tired. I slept all night, I slept all day. When I was awake I was sensitive to light, prone to migraines. I couldn't concentrate enough to watch a film.

This was the start of my ME. Now, I've suffered from this before, as a teen, but I recovered. I did a sky dive a few years back to raise money for Action for ME. I've been living a normal life for about eight years or so.

So, when it came back, I was reluctant to accept that was what it was. As with many sufferers of ME, the doctors found a multitude of things wrong with me, but nothing that fully explained my illness.

I was severely deficient in vitamin D, I was deficient in folic acid, my blood pressure was high when standing just before and just after the illness started and I was dehydrated. I also already had an under-active thyroid and pernicious anaemia.

Treating these problems meant I made it back into the workplace but I was limited. As a journalist you need to attend events, make contacts. I could barely cope with sitting at a desk all day. Eventually the stress got too much and I relapsed. At this point I had been discharged by a neurologist, who had decided, as I had made improvements, I'd be fine on my own.

So, for months I was left without much healthcare, other than from my GP. My GP was on my side. She chased up specialists, she repeated tests, she liaised with my occupational health department about what I could do.

I was convinced it wasn't ME. I had an MRI privately to check for neurological causes. All they found was that my spine was too straight. Interesting, but not quite relevant.

After seeing about three separate specialists, who each referred me to someone else. I was told "it probably is ME".

While everyone around me tried to reassure me that at least it wasn't something serious, I felt despondent. I had fought this already. I'd won. I didn't ask for a rematch. This had been done. It was the past.

Unfortunately, that's not how these things work.

It took roughly a year for me to be diagnosed. Compared to most ME sufferers, I did well. I knew how to get what I wanted out of the system, I could afford a private MRI. The NHS MRI got put on hold because the doctor hadn't filled in a form correctly. No one told me. No one told the doctor. They told my boyfriend when he called to chase up the appointment. They also told him he had to ring the doctor himself to tell him to submit another form. The doctor at the same hospital they were sitting in.

A lot of people have to wait a hell of a lot longer to be diagnosed. Years, in fact. They have to deal with doctors who haven't heard of, or who don't believe ME is a real illness.

And why is this? Because the research that has been done into the disease is limited. Why's that? Because there's little awareness of how devastating this illness really is.

That's why I'd urge people to support this kick-starter campaign for a film documenting and exploring the medical and political issues and the personal stories of ME. One of the women leading the project, @JenBrea has ME. From the looks of it, she suffers worse than I currently do, but about the same as I did in January. Knowing that, I know how much effort it must take to do what she's doing.

And for those of you who didn't see my dodgy walking phase, there's a bit where she crawls down the stairs then walks to the car. That's how I walked not so long ago...

Watch this video to see a little more of what ME is, and why they want to make a film.

You can contribute to the appeal here:

Friday, 18 October 2013

The female hero in children's films

I stumbled across this slightly old TED Talks video today, in which Colin Stokes, director of communications for the non-profit organisation Citizen Schools, discusses what impact female heroes, or the  lack there of, in children's films has on boy's attitudes towards women.

There are definitely flaws in this argument. For one, Star Wars isn't strictly a kids' film. Also, he doesn't discuss causality in much detail. Does the representation of women in children's films affect the sexual attack figures he quotes? Or, is the depiction of women in these films actually a reflection of attitudes in society itself?

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this. Myself, I think his ending comment, that we should add a few more of the female-led kids films in the "Netflix queue", could only be a good thing. However, I don't think this would change attitudes towards women in itself. Unfortunately, there are a lot more factors at play that would also need to change to make a difference. 

If these films are just reflecting society though. perhaps it's a promising sign that female heroes are popping up more frequently in kids films these days, albeit mostly in the guise of warrior women.

On another note, I also spotted this news today: "Mulan is bisexual on 'Once Upon A Time,' Disney-ABC show".

I've never watched the show, so I don't know if this one is for kids or adults, but it sounds like a move in the right direction to me..