Sweden Introduces New Movie Rating System Based on the Bechdel Test

OH MY GOD, SWEDEN. Staaaaaaahhp!!! Fresh on the heels of codifying their new gender-neutral pronoun, those plucky Swedes are getting even more proactive in their attempts to turn mommies into people. Unafraid to incorporate feminist thought (i.e. basic fucking equality) into official policy—can you imagine!?—some Swedish movie theaters are introducing a new rating system based on feminist theory's beloved Bechdel Test. Consumers will now be able to select what entertainment they consume based on how successfully it treats women like human beings.

In case you're not familiar with the Bechdel Test, it's a kind of yardstick of female humanity, originally designed to assess whether or not a film treats its female characters like people or props, or even bothers with women at all. It's very simple. When you watch a movie, ask yourself: Does this film contain two or more female characters...who have names...and have a conversation with one another...about something other than a man? You'll be surprised at how many of your favorite films fail.

Clearly, with this step, Sweden isn't going to magically eradicate gender bias in movies, but spreading awareness about shallow female characterization is the first step toward alleviating that problem. The best way to change destructive, oppressive behaviors isn't to MAKE BEING A MAN ILLEGAL, it's to incrementally change people's minds through, you know, letting them know about stuff. Nothing scary. Nothing complicated. It'll be okay, little alpha male.

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Here's CBC:

To get an "A" rating, a movie must pass the so-called Bechdel test, which means it must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man.

"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," said Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, an art-house movie theatre in Stockholm's trendy Sodermalm district.

Bio Rio is one of four Swedish movie theatres that launched the new rating last month to draw attention to how few movies pass.

...The state-funded Swedish Film Institute supports the initiative, which is starting to catch on. Scandinavian cable TV channel Viasat Film says it will start using the ratings in its film reviews and has scheduled an "A" rated "Super Sunday" on Nov. 17, when it will show only films that pass the test, such as The Hunger Games, The Iron Lady and Savages.

But, of course, some people are VERY CONCERNED about their right to ignore women being violently ripped away by the evil progressive state.

"If they want different kind of movies they should produce some themselves and not just point fingers at other people," said Tanja Bergkvist, a physicist who writes a blog about Sweden's "gender madness."

..."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," said Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas.

Sure, the Bechdel test is imperfect (Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker doesn't pass, for instance, but you could hardly argue that a female-helmed war movie doesn't empower at least one woman), but that doesn't make it useless as a starting line for sniffing out broad trends in gender bias. And that's what we're talking about here. Trends. Analysis. Examination. Critical thought. Information. I'm sure there are plenty of people who consider themselves scrupulously egalitarian who never even noticed that there are only like THREE WOMEN IN ALL OF MIDDLE EARTH.

Empowering people to select media that aligns with their ethics isn't oppressive—it's liberating. It's the free market, really, if you think about it. And if you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe famous actress and noted woman Mrs. Jada Pinkett Smith: "A feminist ratings system? That's so interesting! I say, hey, let's see if it works!"

You don't want to let Jada Pinkett Smith down, do you? Do you!?

Image via Kristoffer Pettersson/Shutterstock.