Liz Wallace’s Movie Rule

There’s an interesting Rule that’s being discussed in Hollywood these days that has to do with the lack of interaction between women in film. The Rule states that woman are neglected in a film if the film doesn’t satisfy these three Rules:

  1. There are two women in the film
  2. These women have names
  3. These women talk to each other about something other than a man

Some of my favorite films of all time don’t satisfy this rule – such as Big Lebowski and The Dark Knight.   This week John August, a screenwriter of major films (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), is saying that now that he knows about this rule, he’s going to try to bring it to every one of his subsequent films.  He says in his blog post:

Looking back through my movies, I’m struck by how rarely the female characters actually do talk to each other. In Big Fish, it’s only a brief moment with Sandra and Josephine. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s a throwaway moment between Violet and Veruca. Titan A.E. fails the test unless you know that the alien Stith is technically female.

In each of these cases, I had to spend a few minutes just to come up with these (admittedly slight) examples.

Also, I find it fascinating that the Reverse Bechdel Test is almost meaningless. Pretty much every movie made includes two named male characters talking about something other than a woman.

Here’s the original comic strip that invented the rule:

And if you want to see how many films apply, check out this video:


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4 thoughts on “Liz Wallace’s Movie Rule
  1. “Pretty much every movie made includes two named male characters talking about something other than a woman.”

    I'm not shocked nor offended. In real life most men don't sit around talking about women. This is especially true when said male is fighting Sith or rallying Scottish clans to battle. And if the small sampling of women in my life are any measure, then portraying women as talking to one another mostly or (only) about men is not far from accurate. Having witnessed several women's gatherings (aka book club) my observation is that even when reviewing serious tomes, talk most often leads to a discussion of: “… the worst date I ever had started when this guy…” I'm gonna stick my neck out here and guess that most moviegoers have little interest in seeing movies that don't conform to the current male-centric formula. Notice the list of not-so-blockbusters on this list: The looming question here is the old chicken and the egg quandary. Which came first? The blockbuster or the Sequel?

  2. It's interesting because i can clearly think of lots of movies where a bunch of guys sit around and talk about stuff that's not women but i struggle to think of a movie where a bunch of girls sit around and talk about stuff that's not men. I can't even imagine what that movie might be – maybe a medical drama?

  3. Which speaks to my point that women don't (typically) (in their leisure time) sit around talking about anything but relationships. That's what they do. There's no breakthrough revelation here or untold secret, women talk about guys, men talk about the hierarchy of NBA all time superstars. I'm generalizing of course. Which is why so many movies speak to these themes. Interesting, yes but not surprising.

  4. It's funny because all the guys I know try to have bookclubs but then halfway through someone pulls out a gun. Then they have a big shoot off and one of them always ends up running off in a car chase. It's sad too because half of them get killed so they never even get to discuss the book. So yeah, I totally agree that Hollywood is a direct reflection of reality.

    I'm sorry, but that comment about women sitting around talking about guys all the time just killed me.

    On the larger point of your post Mike, I think it's interesting and kind of sad. We've come a long way though in movies when you look at the way minorities, women, etc. are represented but I think there's still a long way to go.

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