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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 15

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at one of the most notable strips by the great Alison Bechdel – it’s so famous that it’s even gained its own place in pop culture as the “Bechdel Rule.”

Enjoy!

There are more than a few places where you can find this strip, but the first collection of Dykes to Watch Out For has it, so start there (you might as well start with the first collection anyways!).

This strip, by the great Alison Bechdel, was taken from an idea from a friend of hers named Liz Wallace (hence the thanks to Liz Wallace at the beginning of the strip). However, since it was Bechdel who made the idea popular, it is often referred to as the “Bechdel Rule.”

So here is the strip that started the “Bechdel Rule,” which is a pretty cool comic moment (starting your own pop culture reference point? Pretty cool!)….

Do note that this before Bechdel had refined the strip, so:

A. The characters are unnamed

and

B. Her art was not as good as it would become in the near future (and remain today).

63 Comments

Tom Fitzpatrick

January 16, 2009 at 4:08 am

Someone reviewed this before in that month about comics in Gay and Lesbian communities.

Great strip – got the Essential collection over the holidays in part because of the promotion here (and NPR as well IIRC) and really enjoyed it. One of the interesting things you get from the Essential version is the perspective Bechdel had on politics – the strip covers about 20 years of real time…and the stuff from the late 80’s seem really familiar to where we’re at today. There was even a Schwarzenegger for President joke long before he started his political career.

The rule says a lot of scary stuff about Hollywood…

Y’know, I don’t think there’s a single superhero movie that passes that test.

Always good to see Bechdel’s work, even her early refined stuff.

But-

Technically, wasn’t the monster in Alien the male of it’s species?
If we’re to equate those creatures to homo sapiens, they have a Queen (female) and a bunch of workers/drones (males), so the killer on Nostromo looked to be a worker/drone type. And if that’s the case then they were talking about a man.

Though to be fair, perhaps Aliens hadn’t been released yet when this strip appeared.

Or am I just being too damn geekish for a Friday……………………….

The strip did, in fact, pre-date Aliens.

Richard – They’re referring to Ripley talking to Lambert about the Alien, not Ripley talking to the Alien.

Right, but if the alien is a “man,” then it would violate the rule, as the two women have to be talking about something other than a man.

NOTE: Just clarifying Richard’s position there, not making that point on my own behalf – I’d likely go towards his last suggestion, that it’s probably over-thinking the point a bit! :)

I never thought of the Alien “workers/soldiers” as having any gender… They were sort of gender-neutral… or androgynous… (Sp.?)

LIke with some ants, there is only one male in the nest, the King, none of the rest develop sexually at all, unless the Queen decides that she needs either another King or a new Queen to replace her or expand the nest…

That is really ridiculous. Can you imagine all the great cinema one would miss out on due to such politically correct uptight rules? I’m black and I love cinema, especially the classics, and I can’t imagine all the great movies I’d have missed out on if I had a rule that every movie I had to watch had to have two black people and they had to talk to each other about something other than white person. I watch old movies, all the black people, if there are any, tend to be servants…so what? It’s not the end of the world.

You’re really ridiculous, T. There’s nothing “politically correct” about the strip. Also, the fact that she says “go to a movie” and they are walking by a theater makes it pretty clear that they’re talking about new releases, not classic cinema. You don’t vote with your wallet on classic cinema.

You’re so busy looking to get righteous, you totally miss what you’re supposedly reacting to.

Even if it’s related only to new movies, it’s still ridiculous and the point still stands. If I as a black person decided to only watch movies that had two or more black people in it, had to have them talk to each other, and not about a white person, I’d miss a lot of good movies. It’s pretty sad when people’s self-image is so fragile that they avoid anything that doesn’t constantly reaffirm their identity.

It’s not “politically correct.” Even by your weird terms, it’s quite politically incorrect. But it’s a point of interest. I don’t much blame them. Most movies are absolute shit anyway, especially ones described as they have. Get off your Ignorance Horse. Surely there’s somewhere in the world that finds you appealing. Fuck off and find it.

T.

I really don’t think pointing out that movies with female leads were more often than not exploitation films or romances at the time this strip was produced. Making an observation about mass culture is not the same as political correctness.

The way I’d look at it is that, considering that women make up half the population, how many films can pass the Bechdel Rule as compared to the gender-inverted equivalent?

Joe Rice, why can’t you ever disagree with me without cursing me out and flying off the handle? Says a lot about your maturity level that you can’t disagree civilly. As usual, I will not stoop to your level of discourse. Feel free to flame away though.

Even by your weird terms, it’s quite politically incorrect.

No it’s not. It’s basically as politically correct as you can get.

Making an observation about mass culture is not the same as political correctness.

Depends on whether that observation on mass culture is politically correct. This one is.

I really don’t think pointing out that movies with female leads were more often than not exploitation films or romances at the time this strip was produced.

How many movies involving men, no matter what the topic, don’t involve as one of the main goals winning the love of a woman? Very few as well, even including ass-kicking action movies. If a man declared he refused to watch any movie where the man’s goals included pleasing women, he’d be called ignorant and close-minded and rightfully so.

I really don’t think pointing out that movies with female leads were more often than not exploitation films or romances at the time this strip was produced.

Also, why is it bad that most movies with female leads are romances? That’s what most women are interested in. Those are the movies my wife and her friends get excited about. Look at a bulk of the movies, shows, and books women read. They’re romance-oriented. Acknowledging that women and men are equal doesn’t mean we have to start pretending they are exactly the same in tastes and interests.

“Also, why is it bad that most movies with female leads are romances? That’s what most women are interested in.”

And how would you, as a man, know that?

I disagree civilly with plenty of people, T. I just find you to be disgusting as a human being.

Throwing out a movie because of the gender of its characters is not “politically correct” even in the bizarre sense that you still use it. It’s like you’re still using talking points from 1994. You’re not “stooping to [my] level,” you’re just, as per usual, spouting appalling ignorance.

It doesn’t matter if the alien is male, female or neither. She specifies ‘besides a man’ and the alien is quite obviously not a man.

You know what’s scary, Joe? You probably seriously consider yourself to be a exceptionally tolerant person.

I wouldn’t say that. I’m irritable. But I can only think of three individuals that disgust me like you do. You, and two incompetent teachers in my school that ruin a group of kids a year.

But good job failing to read someone’s mind again!

I wouldn’t say that. I’m irritable.

At least you’re honest. I can respect that.

But good job failing to read someone’s mind again!

When was the first time? ;)

I also, in general, don’t like Australians. That’s a pretty big intolerance.

““Also, why is it bad that most movies with female leads are romances? That’s what most women are interested in.”

And how would you, as a man, know that?”

he met yo mama!

couldn’t help it.

ya know who disgusts me? [other than chris simpleton and his insufferable stupor blog]
people with high and mighty tudes like joe rice.

What about that strip was cool exactly?

I’m about the least high and mighty person I know. I talk about farts and poop almost unceasingly. But spreading ignorant, hateful bullshit isn’t something I want to see here.

So, to recap:

T knows what women like and think.
He is more tolerant than the rest of us, because he gets called out by people who are on the left side of the political spectrum.
He believes it is “politically correct” to say that most media is sexist towards women.
He uses emoticons.

I think that about sums it up.

But spreading ignorant, hateful bullshit isn’t something I want to see here.

Agreed. Me neither.

And how would you, as a man, know that?

I have these things called eyes.

“When was the first time?”

Here was an earlier time in this very section of comments:

“It’s pretty sad when people’s self-image is so fragile that they avoid anything that doesn’t constantly reaffirm their identity.”

He is more tolerant than the rest of us, because he gets called out by people who are on the left side of the political spectrum.

No, I’m more tolerant because even when I have a spirited disagreement on a topic, I never act like the person doesn’t have the right to say the opposing viewpoint and I never resort to personal insults and swear words and call them disgusting human beings.

Tolerance is about how you treat people with wildly differing opinions than yours. Putting up civilly with opinions you already agree with or are only mildly different on inconsequential issues is not tolerance, it’s just being human.

“I have these things called eyes.”

No, you have these things called stereotypes.

Here was an earlier time in this very section of comments:

“It’s pretty sad when people’s self-image is so fragile that they avoid anything that doesn’t constantly reaffirm their identity.”

Okay. So when was the first time?

Perhaps you might ask yourself why I don’t insult other people with opposing, even diametrically opposing views. It’s not about you being “conservative.”

It’s about you not knowing what the fuck you’re talking about, just about ever.

“Agreed. Me neither.”

No, not agreed. You frequently make chauvinistic statements and talk about women in condescending, insulting ways. You behave both ignorantly, and hatefully on a regular basis.

My memory doesn’t go back far enough for the first time. But you’ve already in this thread tried and failed to read women’s minds and my mind.

No, you have these things called stereotypes.

Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t automatically make it untrue. Doesn’t automatically make it true either, but doesn’t necessarily make it untrue. The fact that something is a stereotype is irrelevant to its truth value.

“Okay. So when was the first time?”

I don’t document your posts. I’d have to go rummaging through archives to find the very first time I even witnessed it. That’s why I gave an example of you doing it just now. That demonstrates how frequently it occurs.

And yet to say “most women” want something, other than maybe oxygen and not-pain, you’re using stereotype to inform a false statement.

“Just because something is a stereotype doesn’t automatically make it untrue.”

It does, actually. A stereotype is dependent on the conceit that it is universally true for all the people it is meant to represent. And you will not find a single descriptive personality feature which applies to every person of any social, racial, or gender group.

And if you truly believe that there are such features, we are entirely justified in calling you ignorant.

Look, I’m not saying she’s wrong to dislike something about the state of movies and to make a social commentary about it. More power to her. I just think it’s weird to reward her for taking it to the level where she actually physically won’t see a movie unless it has two women not talking about men. I don’t see why that’s a “cool moment.”

You frequently make chauvinistic statements and talk about women in condescending, insulting ways.

Apodaca calling out someone for being condescending and insulting? Unintentionally ironic much? I think even the people who hate me have to laugh at that one. ;)

I can’t believe I have to explicitly explain this Apodaca, but when most people make generalizations, they usually don’t literally mean they apply to each and every person in the group. It’s usually implicitly understood that there are exceptions to every rule.

There IS a slight difference. Apodaca talks to people in insulting ways. You talk ABOUT women in such ways.

Generalizations are stupid things to make.

Generalizations are stupid things to make.

That sounds like a generalization to me.

I can’t believe I’m being called out for making generalizations when the very strip you guys are celebrating is based on a generalization itself about the chauvinism of mainstream movies.

It’s a lot less harmful to make generalizations about things than about groups of people.

And it also has to do with your misogynistic nature in the past.

I should actually say misanthropic because your ideas on masculinity are equally retarded.

It’s a lot less harmful to make generalizations about things than about groups of people.

You must be exhausted from moving the goalposts so much.

Not really. The point always has been you’re ignorant and full of shit. You say things that you know nothing about. And your horrible opinion of women (and, really, men) is troubling at the very least. And I hate seeing at this blog.

I’m unclear about how such a rule would be put into action. How would you know what the characters talked about unless you had seen the movie? Would you have a friend see the movie and report back to you? Would you find the screenplay and read it first? Would you just make a guess based on your biases about the film?

I don’t think it is supposed to be a real rule, just a comment on the state of cinema today.

“I’m about the least high and mighty person I know. I talk about farts and poop almost unceasingly.”

I can vouch for this.

Well sorry Joe, but until I get banned I’m going to continue to share my comments. Personally I don’t think anything I’ve said in this comments section is particularly hateful or ignorant.

DOUCHEBAG FIGHT!!!!
2 VS 1
ALL 3 DOUCHES!! PLACE YOUR BETS!!!

The thing is, T, I don’t think Alison Bechdel is literally saying that she will only see a movie if it features two women talking to each other about something besides guys. She’s saying that if you postulated a hypothetical person who did so, that person would only see about one movie a decade because Hollywood treats women as appendages of men, rather than as people in her own right.

She is using satire to comment on a trend in popular culture, not literally advocating a course of action for women to follow. To say otherwise would be like saying that Jonathan Swift ate babies. :)

You mean he didn’t? :-p

[q]Technically, wasn’t the monster in Alien the male of it’s species?/[q]

If they’re anything like bees or ants they’re all female (with the drones infertile), with the hosts playing the role of the male (bee/ant males are few, and don’t actually work). Then again as beings from another planet the drones could just be genderless.

To think, the whole immature debate on this thread could’ve been avoided had John Seavy replied to T’s comment from the start.

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