More thoughts on The Hobbit and the Bechdel test

Things I can recall having talked about with other women during the past few weeks:

Our plans for the day. The cost of public transport. The quality of food in local restaurants. What policies we would pass immediately if we were Prime Minister. Our relationships with other members of our family. The weather. Which pair of shoes go best with my new dress. Climate change. Travel plans. Money worries. Whether it’s better to rent or buy your first property. What time we’ll be going for lunch. The rising cost of food. Boyfriends. The fantasy series we liked most as children. Austerity politics. The difference between British and American comedy. What time the shopping centre will be closing. The places we’d most like to visit in India.  Depression. Why the Inbetweeners USA was so crushingly unfunny. How to get from Putney to Harrow on the tube. The economy. Why the London Underground is so inaccessible for wheelchair users. Whether puppies or kittens are cuter. Electronic cigarettes. Whether Karl Marx was just “too downbeat” (thanks, Bethany!) Whether there should be a maximum wage. The logistics of fitting pieces of mirrored glass into a clear plastic raincoat. How to correctly pronounce someone’s name. Poetry.

The number of times I have seen women in popular media discussing anything over the past few weeks: 2.

It is strange to think that an experience which happens daily, if not hourly, in my life, is something I witness so infrequently in popular culture. With the exception of Newsnight, for me to see two or more women discussing anything at length on film or television is so rare that I always notice it.

I wonder what effect this has on men. I wonder if it has anything to do with the number of men who say they “can’t talk to women”, as if the kind of things women talk about are limited to a) fashion and b) babies. I wonder if it is really beyond the imagination of male scriptwriters to write female interaction not limited to discussing the actions of a male character.

I wonder if it would change how I thought about the men around me, if every time I watched a film or a TV show, they were presented almost entirely in relation to the women around them. If the sight of two men discussing anything on TV or film – from how to destroy the Pale Orc to the failure of austerity politics – was so rare that I always noticed it.

I loved The Hobbit, but the male-centredness of it should be an anomaly for a film produced in 2012, not just an extreme example of the sexist status quo.


2 responses

  1. It is, to be fair, based on a book that also features exactly zero women. The one woman who features in the film isn’t even in the book at all!

    1. Ok very late replying to this – I know the book of the Hobbit has barely any female characters, the post wasn’t a criticism of the book or film. Just I thought it was its total male centredness was an extreme example of a trend which is still very prevalent fifty years after Tolkien was writing!

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