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SEXISM WATCH: Movie theaters in Sweden to rate films according to the Bechdel Test

By / 11.08.13

Sweden has long been known as a land of progressiveness, as illustrated by its history of being one of the first countries to adopt socialized medicine, free higher education, and bikini teams. Now, Sweden is again poised to again lead the pack, on the issue of gender bias in movies.

According to a new report, Swedish theaters will now rate films not only on the basis of violence, drugs, blood, boobies and dongs, but also on how much the lady folk actually get to talk.

To get an “A” rating, a movie must pass the so-called Bechdel test, which means it must have 1. at least two named female characters 2. who talk to each other 3. about something other than a man.

“The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, all Star Wars movies, The Social NetworkPulp Fiction and all but one of the Harry Potter movies fail this test,” said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house movie theatre in Stockholm’s trendy Sodermalm district.

Bio Rio is one of four Swedish movie theatres that launched the new rating last month to draw attention to how few movies pass. Most visitors have reacted positively to the initiative “and for some people it has been an eye-opener,” said Tejle, reclining in one of Bio Rio’s cushy red seats.

The state-funded Swedish Film Institute supports the initiative, which is starting to catch on. Scandinavian cable TV channel Viasat Film says it will start using the ratings in its film reviews and has scheduled an “A” rated “Super Sunday” on Nov. 17, when it will show only films that pass the test, such as The Hunger GamesThe Iron Lady and Savages. [CBC]

Wait, do they mean Savages, the Oliver Stone film that popularized the term “Wargasm,” or The Savages, the Tamara Jenkins movie starring Laura Linney? Because I have a hard time believing Oliver Stone’s wargasm movie passes the Bechdel Test. Me, I might’ve chosen some good movies that pass, but what do I know. Speaking of which, nothing against the Bechdel Test, but I do wish I occasionally heard Alison Bechdel’s name mentioned in some other context. Like, say, as the author of Fun Home, which is pretty fantastic. Maybe it could even be a movie. Hey, just a thought.

In any case, this whole thing has inspired me to try to write a script that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors.

BRITNEY and LINDSAY, college co-eds and best friends since kindergarten, are outside on the lawn in front of their co-op at Wesleyan, discussing the latest news. Britney the witty, voluptuous blonde, Lindsay the fiery, hardbodied redhead.

BRITNEY

Did you hear that Wendy Davis is going to run for governor of Texas?

Britney pulls off her t-shirt to soak up the noon day sun in her string bikini. She has an incredible rack.

LINDSAY

OMG, that’s amazing. She’s such a hero. It’s about time the voters had a real alternative.

BRITNEY

Yeah, but you know the right-wing smear machine is already on high alert. Ugh, it makes me so mad! We really have to get money out of politics!

LINDSAY

God, I know! So many problems with the world. That’s why I took up yoga, for the stress relief. Check this out, I can already put my ankles behind my ears!

Lindsay pulls her legs back against her taut body to show off her new trick.

BRITNEY

Oh my God, Lindsay, you are so flexible! I really should go to a class with you some time.

LINDSAY

Heck, this is nothing. Here, come push against my hamstrings.

Britney gets up to push down Lindsay’s legs, stretching her even further.

BRITNEY

This is incredible! I’m so proud of you. …Gosh, it’s getting hot out here.

Just then, the beads of perspiration that had been collecting at the intersection between Britney’s pert, supple breasts break the levee of her cleavage and a drop escapes its fleshy reservoir, landing right on top of Lindsay’s now-exposed pubic bone. They both giggle.

LINDSAY

Girl, you’re going to get sunburned if you stay out here like this. Here, let me put some suntan lotion on you.

Britney sits back. She unties her bikini top and pulls it right off, letting her massive jugs flop free. She’s so uninhibited. Lindsay squirts suntan lotion into her palm, smearing it over Britney’s round underboob and across her puffy, still developing areolae.

LINDSAY

I think it’s great how comfortable you are with your body.

BRITNEY

Girl, I won’t allow anyone to make me ashamed of who I am. My body, my business. We should never let men tell us what we can or can’t wear. I mean look at you, you’re beautiful.

Britney gently tucks Lindsay’s hair behind her ear. Their eyes meet and they kiss. Softly at first, and then hungrily. They’ve been waiting for this moment a long time. A real long time.

Anyway, I’ve got a lot of work left, but I think you can see that this idea has potential. I really want to prove that it’s not hard to write strong, independent female characters.


TAGSBECHDEL TESTScandinaviasexismSEXISM IN MOVIESSWEDENTHE BALLAD OF BRITNEY AND LINDSAY

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