In our fight to counter the unacceptable inequality that plagues the film industry, there are a number of measures we can each take. Let’s start by calling an ace an ace: the Bechdel Test is a joke. Literally. At least it was intended as one when first presented in the 1980s as a quip by a Lesbian character in an underground comic created by a Lesbian artist. So, it’s all the more ironic that this now universally recognized litmus test utterly ignores the LGBTQ community with its hetero-normative presumptions. It likewise fails to address the dearth of minority female characters in film, ranging from ethnicity to religion and beyond. Nor does it tackle negative stereotypes in terms of age, health, economic class and appearance.
Instead, this under-achieving litmus test amounts to little more than a Get Out of Sexist Jail for Free card in that if a film passes, the makers can pat themselves on the back, thinking they’re part of the solution. But anybody who believes this is part of the problem. When we look for over-simplified solutions for complex societal problems—such as sexism, racism and homophobia—we’re setting ourselves up to fail. There is no quickie formula, no easy fix. And social justice never results from lowering the bar. To the contrary, we need to raise it. How, you might ask? Over the next few weeks, I’ll share 7 simple missions to get us started. Here’s #1…
Feminist Call to Action #1: Be Part of the Solution
This is a fun and easy one. To encourage and perpetuate the production of feminist-friendly films, do your research to find them and go out and support them. Pay to see films directed by women, films that feature strong female roles, films that embrace intersectionality, cross-cultural inclusivity and voices too often ignored. When these films deserve your praise, review them online, encourage friends and family members to go see them. Better yet, accompany these friends and family members and discuss these movies as a group, ideally in public. Create buzz. We live in a capitalist society. Money talks. If the powers-that-be realize they can profit from these films, rest assured, more will be made. We, the consumers, hold the power. By all means let’s use it.
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