Monday, June 19, 2017

Wonder Woman: The Bechdel and Delany Tests

By Vicki Delany

Way back on New Years Week 2015 I discussed the Bechdel test, which is applied to movies, and invented my own test which I call the Delany test.

Image result for wonder woman

The Bechdel test:

To pass the test the movie must fulfill three criteria:
  • ·         It has to have at least two [named] women in it
  • ·         Who talk to each other
  • ·         About something besides a man

The Delany Test:
  • Female characters must be portrayed as people, not just women.

Both tests, we realized, are surprisingly hard to pass in movies.  TV shows and books are much more likely to pass both tests.  Probably because of the long plot lines in most TV shows today as well as the rich ensemble casts.  Books, frankly, are a lot more realistic than movies anyway and thus their portrait of women’s relationships with each other and their lives are more realistic.

What prompted me to return to this subject is that last week I went to see Wonder Woman.  First of all, just going to the movies is an unusual outing for me.  I probably see one, maybe two movies a year. Not much appeals to me (see above Blechdel and Delany tests). And I certainly don’t go to superhero movies.  

However, with all the attention and praise Wonder Woman is getting, I thought I’d see what it’s all about.

My thoughts, briefly, are that the beginning is great.  I loved the Amazons.  The middle (when they are in London) was amusing and well done.  The second half of the middle, particularly the battle in the trenches of WWI was thrilling.  And then it all fell apart when we had the climactic battle between WW and the ultimate baddie.  Much destruction ensues. Yawn.

As for the Bechdel test and Delany test?

The first part (on the Amazon Island) passed both with flying colours.

Image result for wonder woman amazons

The London part sorta passed the Bechdel test when the secretary and Diana interact. (Although why a spy and airman has a secretary is never mentioned).  Unfortunately they mostly talked about womanly things, like dressing.  Although, and good for the movie producers, the secretary is a robust middle-aged woman, not some sexy Hollywood thing.

Unfortunately, from then on, the Bechdel test fails. Once they leave London, Diana interacts with no other women and she is surrounded only by men. (Hey, it’s a fantasy: if WW can dodge bullets why can’t French village women at least ask her what’s going on here, if not charge the trenches behind her?)

Image result for wonder woman amazons

It does pass the Delany test, in that the evil scientist is played by a woman, in a role that could very easily have been done by a man. Meaning the character is a person, who just happens to be female.  

And WW, despite her skimpy costume and love interest with Chris Pine could be, and has been many, many times, a male role.

For what it’s worth, there’s my analysis!

Do the Bechdel test and the Delany test matter to you? Let me know in the comments.


Eileen Goudge said...

Good test! And I agree on the criteria. The debate in our household currently is "Who would you rather have as president, Donald Trump or Frank Underwood (of House of Cards)?" I like the strong female lead played by Robin Wright. She's a modern-day Lady Macbeth but smart as a whip and can do end runs around most men. A not-nice Wonder Woman in designer-wear

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I'm seeing Wonder Woman this weekend with some friends. I grew up reading Wonder Woman, so I'm looking forward to this movie.

Donis Casey said...

I don't mind seeing women talk to each other about woman things as long as they're not talking about having/getting/pleasing a man. I've always thought that women and they're concerns ought to be the human standard and men and their interests should be the deviation

cosjjcom said...

Cute! ^^
I don't know the character (sorryyyyy) but I think that the wig's color fits you really well!
This reminds me that I want to cosplay characters with glasses too... XD

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