Poetry

An alarm in the distance rings,

She wonders what the new day brings
Give up now! Her entire body groans, 

Undaunted, she shakes up her bones

Something is wrong, she feels it
Months and months now , she can’t push it off

Her body but an empty shell,
Continues working as if under a spell.

A darkness creeps in her heart,
Making her fall apart.

Trying to run is futile,

For as soon as she thinks she is happy, it catches up and makes her secluded.

One minute she’s laughing,

Next she is masking.

Searching for a place to hide,
The monster  again may catch up she’s petrified.

Buried six feet under the ground,

With each scream only ripping the darkness around.

Joy oh joy! Where are you,

Come back I need you.

It paved her a path, light shining the way,

Persistence alone helps her keep the darkness at bay.

For now, the shadow disappears,

So long, till we meet again she  says wiping her tears.

Continues living her routine among her peers.

She wishes the day comes soon when she is unfettered,
When she can finally laugh and live,

No need to look over her shoulder,

For that familiar friend who grows only bolder.

Fighting everyday is oh so tiring,
Give up! Her mind says, it’s much more easier,  less jarring.

Not today, not today she repeats as her feet fall on the street.

Vowing to fight as long as her heart beats.
Strong, undaunted and brave she stands up.

Till we meet again my foe, I will not let-up.

The Bechdel test

The Bechdel test designed by Alison Bechdel is a test used to indicate presence of women on screen and whether it is significant or not.

Also known as the Bechdel–Wallace test. The test is named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, in whose comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For it first appeared in 1985. Bechdel credited the idea to a friend, Liz Wallace, and to the writings of Virginia Woolf.

It has three requirements:

  1. There must be two named female characters on screen
  2. They must talk to each other atleast once during the course of the film
  3. They must talk about something other than boys/men

Sounds simple right?

But you would be surprised at how many films fail this test.

Here are some famous films that fail this test:

note: I have copied this part from 10 Famous Films That Surprisingly Fail The Bechdel Test

  • The social network

Mark Zuckerberg and his buddies spend two hours screwing over each other and everyone else around them in pursuit of Facebook billions, apparently in an attempt to prove that nerds can’t have friends.

Why it fails the test:

None of the women in the movie ever talk to each other. In fact, they’re kinda just flat characters who the male characters ignore or bang in bathrooms when it’s dramatically appropriate. Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer, actually commented on the lack of three-dimensional female characters in an interview with Stephen Colbert, saying that the women are “prizes”. Aw, Sorkin, you charmer, you.

  • Harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2

Harry and his friends (several of whom are female) begin making their final moves to take down Lord Voldemort. They confront him, defeat him, age weirdly, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Why it fails the test:

None of the female characters in the film actually have a conversation. They trade quips a few times, like when Prof. McGonagall makes a comment about “always wanting to use that spell” to Mrs. Weasley when she brings the stone statues to life, or when Mrs. Weasley calls Bellatrix a bitch…but no one actually responds and, y’know, talks. They might as well be talking to themselves (or, more likely, the audience

  • The Star Wars trilogy (original)

A kid on a distant planet finds out about a magical “force” from an old man and he learns to be a Jedi and they fight against the Empire and yada yada. Honestly, if you don’t know this, then I hope that 35-year coma was really peaceful and lovely.

Why it fails the test:

There are only three named female characters in the original trilogy with speaking roles – Princess Leia, Aunt Beru, and Mon Mothma, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance. In three films, none of them says a word to each other. Seriously, George, why is the whole galaxy a sausage fest? Do those bacta tanks grow babies, too?

An extra big kick in the nuts to Star Wars fans: The prequel trilogy actually passes the test (partially). Padme speaks to Shmi Skywalker in Episode I and to her handmaidens at various points in Episode II, and in both cases, they discuss things other than men. (Episode III does still fail, though. No females speak to each other in that one.)

  • The Entire Lord of the rings trilogy

A hobbit gets caught up in a huge war when he has to take a magic ring right to the bad guy’s front door. If you’re behind on this one, too, then I’m honestly kinda surprised you even know what movies are. Why are you here?

Why it fails the test:

Despite having three strong female characters in Arwen, Eowyn, and Galadriel, they’re all in completely different parts of Middle Earth and they never even meet, much less talk to each other. Seriously, in the entire 10-hour trilogy, no two female characters ever actually speak to each other. Considering the fact that the entire population of New Zealand is in these movies, it kinda seems statistically impossible.

So you see, it doesn’t matter if you have strong female characters in the movie also because they never speak to each other and that’s statistically impossible. No women goes a day without speaking to another women.

People may disagree with me saying that movie goers do not care about these issues nor is it relevant but you should.

At its core, the Bechdel test gives you an insight about gender disparity in cinema. And I’m amazed by why people wouldn’t notice the fact the absence of women interaction in the film as much as they would notice a man’s absence.

Take Steel Magnolias for instance, a film that has an entire female cast and revolves around women hood and the challenges surrounding it. A man watching the film would immediately notice that the overwhelmingly female cast has little to no men in any frame. While we never even notice that there are seemingly few women in major blockbusters like the above mentioned ones. We would demand that there be more of a role for men rather than they just stand around pandering to their wives.

Some barely pass the test like Iron man 2 where there is only a single line that is exchanged between Pepper Potts and Natasha Romanoff.

At the heart of it all, what I find is that the major number of directors and scriptwriters are male and thus turn a blind view to female representation. After all its not their fault. Men get to save the day in movies and survive difficult relationships and undergo drama while women are relegated to being someone’s wife, sister, mother. They simply serve to be arm candy or propagate the male character’s qualities or the storyline. Their entire existence revolves around men and they are very flat in character.

Of course its not to say that we shouldn’t see or enjoy movies that fail this test. All of Christopher Nolan’s movies fail this test but that doesn’t mean that they are any less amazing.

I just find it surprising that most movies fail to incorporate these basic requirements and I think it reflects the kind of inherent sexism that we are now used to.

An all male cast movie with a few female characters interspersed would be watched by all but a majority female cast movie would be seen by only a handful of women and even then box office sales usually never recover profit. That’s why we need to encourage more women in directing and script writing. We need more women centric films so that a decent film can be made.

There are of course many films that do pass the Bechdel test but you would have a hard time listing them out. I give you an exercise to list atleast 10 films that pass the Bechdel test. I had to really think hard after 5 films.

All in all, the Bechdel test I feel is less of a reflection on movie makers and reflects more on us : the audience. After all, they follow our lead. If we are not bothered there is going to be no change.

Dystopia

Dystopian literature and cinema always held a kind of fascination for me. As someone who loves planning for the future, ( and forgetting to live in the present in the process) it is exciting to read what people think the future looks like.

Most of what I’ve read or seen in this category is usually​ YA literature like Hunger games, Divergent series and Maze runner series and movies like V for Vendetta, Blade runner, Black mirror series.

All these have one thing in common. I love the concept but don’t see it realistically happening in the future. That’s until I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

No other book has shown dystopia in such a light that has managed to give me nightmares. It differs from what I’ve read in two major aspects:

  • YA literature shows the future but never shows how it came to be this way. It simply is. So it doesn’t feel real. While Margaret Atwood has described how the future came to be.

Even you would boil to death in a bathtub of water if it heats slowly enough.

These lines are said by the protagonist Offred giving a clue that the present future came to be very slowly, it creeped up on them so slow that they accepted the reality as they got used to it.

In the novel, it is mentioned in a series of flashbacks that first there were terrorist attacks, so the people gave up their rights of privacy and allowed to the government to conduct surveillance ( sounds familiar?)

Later they imposed emergency restrictions. Again people thought it was temporary only and accepted it as a way of life .Later the government froze bank accounts of women and forces then from workplaces. Again people thought this was for a short time. They couldn’t believe it was happening and we’re sure it would be revoked.

Then the final blow came by a rule which forbid women from holding property. Later their right to have abortions was taken away( because of declining fertility in the world)

These all changes occured so slowly that people took it in their stride and before the women knew it, they had become Handmaidens.

  • YA literature always shows a strong female character who is able to overcome all odds and fight them.

What makes The Handmaid’s tale different is that the female protagonist has no real freedom. She is truely oppressed and watched by a facist government like that in V for Vendetta. Thats what makes it more believable. Because in any dystopian future, it’s more likely that rights of women would be the first to be thrown out of the window.

I don’t know about men, but from a female perspectives, this book scared the hell out me in a way that no other book has managed to do in a long time.

If that was not enough, Hulu has recently released series of the same name. It is shockingly similar to the book and follows it line to line. If you want to see your nightmare come alive on screen, I highly recommend it.

This line sums up how everything came to be in the future. Justifying violence or any method of oppression undertaken just because you feel it is for the betterment of people can only lead to disaster because someone will always be worse off.

This is something we all can learn from.