Sexualized Saturdays: If the Bechdel Test Isn’t Feminist, What Is?

bechdel test original comicRecently a group of cinemas in Sweden decided to institute a ratings system based on the Bechdel test. As moviegoers enter one of these cinemas, they would see a rating by each advertised movie, telling them whether or not the movie had passed the test. Controversy ensued, with the Telegraph calling the test “damaging to the way we think about film” and the Guardian almost immediately rebutting by saying it was “a provocation that works”. Both sides of the argument have some merit to them, but it’s clear that the Bechdel test now has enough cultural clout to propel a more in-depth discussion on feminism and gender in the film industry. The test has long been held up as a measure of how feminist a movie is, but does it really fulfill this purpose? Or is it time for this test to make way for newer tests like Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Sexy Lamp test or the Mako Mori test?

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Fanfiction Fridays: It’s Not Always About the Romance

Every Valentine’s Day, we at Lady Geek Girl and Friends vote on and compile a huge list of our favorite pairings to share with our readers. (This is not that post. Check back around noon.) However, we also always do a post that takes some of the emphasis off romantic love, because we are strong proponents of the idea that while having a significant other is cool, it isn’t the be-all end-all of life or this day in particular. We’ve listed our favorite platonic duos and our favorite unattached anime characters over the past two years, but since V-Day conveniently falls on a Friday this year, we’re taking the opportunity to share five awesome fanfics where the focus is not on romance. Enjoy!

Warning: some fics involve spoilers for their respective series, specifically Shingeki no Kyojin (and, like, Harry Potter and The Avengers if you somehow haven’t read/seen those).

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Arrow Season 2 Midseason Review

We haven’t spent much time talking about Arrow here. Okay, there was that once, but that was a review of the very first episode, so we’ve definitely got some lost time to make up.

cw-arrow-green-arrow-bannerI never really bothered to review the show during its first season because, well, I didn’t think it was much to write home about. Much like my decision to keep buying the Fearless Defenders comic, I tuned in weekly more out of a desire to give a hopeful, just-starting-out superhero show good ratings so that the CW would continue making superhero shows. (I was apparently successful, as they’re planning a Flash spinoff series. Dammit, CW, make a show about a lady superhero, not another white guy.) The writing was sort of terrible, the plots were sort of predictable, and at least half of Oliver’s manpain was based on the fridging of his illicit lady-love. The only character who had consistently decent dialogue for the entire first season was our hero’s go-to hacker Felicity Smoak, a queen among women.

Anyway, I’m glad I gave the so-so first season a shot, because the second season is pretty much kicking it in the ass. Spoilers below the jump.

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The One Thing That Uncharted Gets Wrong

[Here there be serious spoilers for the plots of Uncharted I, II, and III]

Before we go anywhere, some backstory: Uncharted is a series of third-person, action/adventure, platforming videogames. They trace the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake and his mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan, et alia, as they think and fight their way through dense jungles, Nazi bunkers, ancient temples and lost cities. The series is developed by Naughty Dog, the same studio responsible for The Last of Us and Crash Bandicoot.

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The Uncharted series of games is one of my favorites of all time. I can’t think of a single series (with the possible exception of all the Pokémon games put together) that I’ve logged more time playing, especially including multiplayer. I played Uncharted II: Among Thieves first; it was, after all the much lauded, universal “Game of the Year” for 2009. I bought it at the suggestion of a friend and played through it in a single sitting, only getting up to use the bathroom. I was completely enraptured by the storytelling, the combat, and the game’s ability to perform exposition and character development in what just isn’t that long of a game.

Until I played The Last of Us, I was convinced that there was no game that I could enjoy more. I went back and played Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and blew off an exam when Uncharted III: Drake’s Deception came out in 2011. There’s a pair of jet ski scenes in Uncharted that are just obnoxious and are reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot, but with the exception of those excruciating minutes, there’s not a second of the Uncharted series that I don’t enjoy. Unfortunately, it seems that I can’t manage to keep my critical eye closed while enjoying a perfectly good video game. Continue reading

The Mako Mori Test—A Good Alternative to Bechdel?

Hopefully you’ve all heard of the Bechdel test. For years it’s stood as shorthand for indicating that a movie does a decent job in representing both women and female relationships. If one said that a movie passed the Bechdel test, it meant that that movie: 1) had two named female characters who 2) talk to each other about 3) something other than a man.

But now, in the wake of Pacific Rim‘s enormous online success, there have been calls for a Pacific Rim-inspired feminist test to join the Bechdel test. The Mako Mori test, as defined by Tumblr user chaila, states:

The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. I think this is about as indicative of “feminism” (that is, minimally indicative, a pretty low bar) as the Bechdel test. It is a pretty basic test for the representation of women, as is the Bechdel test. It does not make a movie automatically feminist.

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Sharks. Tornado. Sharknado. Enough said?

Lady Saika: Ohhh yeah, folks. You may not know this about me, but I am the biggest sap for terrible Syfy-channel original movies on this planet. I legit was Sharktopus for Halloween one year, I’m not even playing with you.

Hot, I know, right?

Hot, I know, right?

So imagine my incredulous delight when I saw the teaser trailer for Sharknado, a film that appears to have come about by putting a bunch of dangerous words in a hat and then grafting the first one they picked onto the word ‘shark’. (Hey, it worked for Sharktopus.)

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Fanfiction Fridays: Lunch and Other Obscenities

When it comes to fanfiction, what I read is about 90% shippy, whether it’s het, slash, or femslash. I look to fanfic to portray in-show, -book, or -movie relationships in a way I wish their source text would and so I tend to avoid gen fanfic. In fact, I’ve probably linked to most of the gen fanfic I’ve ever really liked already in this segment. But every once in a while I come across something that’s really great, and Lunch and Other Obscenities by Rheanna27 is one such fanfic.

This story is set in the Star Trek reboot (aka Star Trek XI) universe, and focuses on the relationship between Gaila and Uhura as they start at Starfleet. They’re assigned as roommates because Gaila’s last name is transliterated Uhu, and they immediately start off on the wrong foot. It’s less that they dislike each other as people, and more that both of them adhere to cultural norms, which, though totally acceptable by their species’ standards, the other finds taboo and gross. Over the course of the fic, Uhura learns to question what she sees as ‘normal’, to accept the things she first considers ‘weird’, and that effective cross-cultural translation can save both relationships and lives. And, okay, it does have a teensy bit of Spock/Uhura in there but it’s not at all the focus of the fic, and their relationship is canon in nu!Trek, so I still consider gen fic.

I discovered it on a list of fanfic that passed the Bechdel test, and I found it a really refreshing portrayal of female friendship as well as an intriguing look at the way norms can differ across cultures and the way things that are second nature to one group can be absolutely taboo to another group, without either group being necessarily morally superior.

Here’s the link again—go check it out!

Fanfiction Fridays: No Kidding by Curious

I don’t usually read fanfic on tumblr.  I don’t usually stick with fanfic that have a lot of spelling and grammar whoopses. And I am so happy I got over these two peeves and finished ‘No Kidding’, a BBC Sherlock fic about Sergeant Donovan.

The summary, well, sums it up way better than I could:

“Sergeant Sally Donovan will: defend her bisexuality, become a cop, punch people, move house, get a promotion, save Sherlock Holmes, throw a party, buy a cat, play the harmonica, go on bad dates, attend a wedding, attend a funeral, meet Irene Adler, get laid, and get shit done. Like a boss.

I loved this fic for a number of reasons.

First of all, there is barely any good femslash to begin with, compared to the number of good slashfics out there.

Second of all, the fic deals well with Sally both discovering and refusing to let people erase or fetishize her bisexuality, which is awesome.

Third of all, it’s nice to have a look into the background of Donovan’s character, since in the show she’s portrayed as someone for the audience to hate blindly because she hates Sherlock. Getting into Sally’s head, we see both that yes, if you knew Sherlock in the real world you’d probably hate him too, and that actually, Donovan has her own reasons for disliking him.

Fourthly, this fic is rife with original characters, but they’re interesting and well fleshed out, and thanks to them the fic passes The Bechdel Test!

Finally, hooray for a fic where the main character is a queer woman of color instead of a white dude!

Check out ‘No Kidding’ here!