Tags: feminist | rating | film | sweden

Feminist Rating for Movies in Sweden Judges Films' Gender Bias

Image: Feminist Rating for Movies in Sweden Judges Films' Gender Bias Ellen Tejle, the director of art-house movie theater Bio Rio in Stockholm, holds a Bechdel Test approval A certificate.

By Robin Farmer   |   Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 06:31 PM

A new Swedish feminist movie rating will alert viewers as to whether the film contains gender bias.

Films with an "A" rating must pass the "Bechdel Test," which requires at the minimum that two female characters discuss any topic that is not about a man, The Associated Press reported.

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Many blockbusters would fall short.

"The entire 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, all 'Star Wars' movies, 'The Social Network,' 'Pulp Fiction' and all but one of the 'Harry Potter' movies fail this test," Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house movie theater in Stockholm's trendy Sodermalm district, told the AP.

The Bechdel Test is named after Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist who popularized the idea.

Only four Swedish movie theaters have launched the new rating to spotlight the few films that pass. “It has been an eye-opener," for some people, said Tejle.

But the "A" rating is not universally embraced.

"There are far too many films that pass the Bechdel Test that don't help at all in making society more equal or better, and lots of films that don't pass the test but are fantastic at those things," Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas told The Associated Press.

Research in the U.S. shows that women have been underrepresented on the screen in the past 60 years. Of the U.S. Top 100 films in 2011, women accounted for 33 percent of all characters and only 11 percent of the protagonists, according to a study by the San Diego-based Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, the AP reported.

Actress-producer Jada Pinkett Smith told the The Associated Press she was intrigued by the rating idea when asked about it.

"A feminist ratings system? That's so interesting! I say, hey, let's see if it works!"

Online commenters of The Atlantic Wire article on the new rating had a mixed reaction.

“What an absolutely pointless process. This demeans film and the artists who work in it,” wrote one poster.

Wrote another: “What it does mean is that the women are there for reasons other than romance. Almost any male dominated movie could easily have a person of any gender play any role. That's the issue.”

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