Alison Bechdel never intended for it to be as big as it has become. And the kicker is, it is an incredibly
low bar. Yet even with pretty much grading on a curve and giving every female-ish interaction on screen (big or small) the benefit of the doubt, many films and TV shows/episodes routinely, spectacularly, fail it.
Beware - long, incoming rant dead ahead.
It isn't even a guarantee of a feminist movie, as Gone With the Wind
passes and those women are basically living at the whims of men. Bechdel also ends up being, if you look at the overall data, a condemnation of auditions and casting. After all, the arresting officer could be female. The admitting physician could be. The architect could be. The construction worker could be. They don't all have to be, of course. But when casting directors don't see the smaller, one- or two-line roles (often without a character name) as being something a woman can do, then fewer women get into the unions. They aren't able to build their resumes and, as a result, middle ground and small roles don't (and often can't, due to union rules) go to them.
The system perpetuates as the people with the middling roles are the ones who directors notice and start to think of for much bigger supporting roles. And, eventually, lead roles. The cycle continues, on and on. It also doesn't help that, routinely, actresses are pushed into plastic surgery (and/or endless dieting) to continue to be able to compete in the marketplace. Men, in general, are not. It does not help when younger women are routinely cast as older, because casting directors have a hard time seeing a real 40-year-old and so instead they cast a 29-year-old when there are actresses in their 40s who are out of work and are proven to be good at what they do. They just aren't young enough anymore.
In Death Becomes Her
(the film), Goldie Hawn plays an actress and she says that there are three roles for women in Hollywood: babe, mom, and district attorney. And while the line was intended to be over the top for a comedy, it is way too close to the truth.
was born in 1962 and still makes big money action flicks. He's not raking in the dough quite as well as he used to, but he does fine, I'm sure.
Janine Turner, Jasmine Guy, Demi Moore, and Ally Sheedy were also born in 1962. Only Moore was ever able to 'open a picture', and she can't anymore. She hasn't been able to since GI Jane
, which was released in 1997.
was born in 1942. He had to push to have his character in Star Wars killed off because he didn't want to play the character (Han Solo) again. But he certainly could have.
Actresses born in 1942 include Michelle Lee, Carol Lynley, Linda Evans, and Barbra Streisand. Only Babs ever opened a picture. Her last lead role was in Nuts
, in 1987.
I could go on - sorry this is so long. Hollywood doesn't do aging well for anyone, so I do recognize that older actors also have trouble finding work unless they are the bigs. But men tend to have a longer shelf life, at least according to the people in charge of casting - and that only perpetuates this.