Okay, I kind of want to move to Sweden. It boasts snowy-peaked mountain ranges, tall blond men with steely gazes, ABBA, national healthcare, and meatballs. And now, it’s home to easily the most feminist-friendly cinema campaign to ever hit theaters. The Swedish Film Institute is introducing a new movie rating to emphasize the gender bias in films. Films with a well-rounded female cast get As, while films which are basically 90-minute grunting sessions between men with explosives get a failing grade.
A few of you (holla at my feminists!) might be familiar with the Bechdel test, which the ratings are based off of. In order to pass the Bechdel test, a movie must feature two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. Easy peasy, right? Not when you consider the fact that the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars series, and The Social Network, and The Hangover all fail it. And, if I remember correctly, that hobbit movie and the one about space still did pretty well.
Which isn’t to say that all movies that pass the Bechdel test (ahem, Clueless) are cinematic gold or that all films that don’t pass it (Good Will Hunting) are fluffy garbage, but the new system in Sweden highlights the huge gender inequality that nearly all films portray. Even if audiences go, “Oh, hmm,” if only for a moment between popcorn chewing, that’s a small victory for the Katniss Everedeens of the world.
In 2011 women accounted for 33% of all characters and only 11% of the protagonists in movies, according to The Guardian. Now if we adopt Sweden’s system in the U.S., maybe those numbers would go up and the cineplex would be an explosion of Bridesmaids and Enough Said. And while we’re adopting things from Sweden, we’ll also take Alexander Skarsgard.