The Rep Test- Clueless
The first movie review we talked about in class was the Bechdel test. At first, I was completely unaware of what it was and when it was first presented, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous because it seemed like a very easy test to pass. I chose to watch Clueless. The main character is named Cher, who is a female. So this immediately checks off one point in the “Is the protagonist a female” box. Unfortunately, the next five boxes don’t receive points because although Cher’s best friend, Dionne, is an African American girl, she is the only other woman of color and every other girl in the movie has essentially the same, male eye candy, body type. The last box within the first category asks if the Bechdel test is passed, and the answer to this is yes, multiple times. 18 minutes into the movie Cher and Dionne talk about giving their environmental science teacher a makeover and then proceed to talk about their PE class in relation to their weight. This scene alone is very early in the movie and passes the Bechdel test. A few scenes later, the same friends notice a girl their age that needs a makeover as well, they decide to take her in and show her around school, passing the Bechdel test again. As far as men in the movie go, there is only one African American actor, who is subjected to a stereotype the entire movie. The other males, are centered around Cher’s and the other female actresses sexual focus, so the only two points awarded in these boxes was that the movie did avoid glorifying violent men, and the men were not perpetuating an unhealthy body type. Cher’s love interest, Elton, in the end turned out to be gay, but this did not receive a point because he was completely stereotyped into loving shopping, dancing, and having other feminine qualities. The movie was both directed and written by Amy Heckerling, a female, receiving two points. Clueless in total received a score of 7 points, barely giving it a B.
Personally, I love this movie. I think it has some funny, “dumb blonde” scenes and relates to people of my age because it is filmed in a high school setting. Cher is a popular, wealthy woman whose center focus is on finding a boyfriend; this is an area that I can see review conflicts with. Although for a small chunk of the movie she is focused on bringing up her grades and getting all A’s, the rest of the movie is completely based on changing her friend and teacher’s looks in order to please a male. There is a certain scene that I thought was both funny and sort of alarming: Elton leaves Cher’s house without wanting to do anything sexual, and Cher immediately starts to pick apart her physical appearance; asking if her hair went flat, or if she stepped into bag lighting. It was funny the way she immediately assumed it was her hair that made him not attracted to her, when in reality it is because he is gay. It was alarming because I think it’s a huge issue in the media where females are portrayed to merely please males and focus on their appearance in order to meet a guy. The movie is centered around this issue, but with a comical twist and that’s why I enjoyed it so much.
I think this test is both fair and unfair. I understand minorities may be tired of stereotypical, white males getting major roles and awards for movies, and that it has been a huge issue. At the same time, I’m not generally someone who is going to sit down and judge a movie based on how many people of color are in it, so I think it is a little pointless if you’re not a strong advocate of these issues. I wouldn’t recommend adding anything to the rep test, but I definitely wouldn’t make it so strict and limiting. I think it’s sort of ridiculous to rate a movie based on how many minorities it has because there are thousands of wonderful movies that would never pass this test.