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It was reported a while ago that 2014 was a pretty rough year at the box office - with ticket sales coming in at a 20 year low - but as it turns out, the negatives sadly don't stop there. New statistics have been calculated, and according to the findings, last year was not a good one for female characters in feature films.
Silk has published their findings after studying the roles for women in films from 2010 to 2014, and in their breakdown it's noted that only 55.4 percent of the 175 movies screened actually managed to pass the Bechdel Test (a three step quiz that requires a movie to have at least two named female characters, have those female characters talk to each other, and discuss something other than men in order to pass). This number is way down from 2013, which had 67.5 percent of films sampled pass, and is the only year since 2010 to score less than 60 percent - though it is admitted that the sample size from last year was smaller simply due to accessibility. New York Magazine points out that in the past 20 years only 1998, 2002, and 2009 had comparably dismal results.
When the numbers are broken down, it's pretty clear to see where 2014's trouble area was in regards to Bechdel Test criteria. While percentages show that last year's movies actually improved where the number of women are concerned, the problem is that Hollywood isn't getting them to talk to one another. Of all of the film's surveyed, 25.1 percent of them featured two or more women that simply never had any shared dialogue scenes. Of the movies that did feature two women talking, 14.9 percent of them had them only discussing their male counterparts in the feature.
The Bechdel Test obviously isn't the ultimate tool to determine exactly how women are portrayed in cinema at large, but the criteria is legitimate, and the results are typically disappointing. At its most basic, what the Bechdel Test works to try and figure out is A) if female characters are getting enough exposure, and B) if their exposure is limited to just their relation to male characters. One can't argue that it would be beneficial to start seeing more equality in both areas, and these numbers clearly indicate that Hollywood needs to start doing better.
Hopefully we may start to see a turning of the tide, and the industry will begin to really start producing films with much stronger female roles. After all, there are so many movies out there with lead characters who could easily be switched from male to female with little effort, and it would nice to see more equality along gender lines. We have our fingers crossed that around this time next year we find statistics showing how great a year 2015 was for female characters.