Obligatory MovieBob link. (Damn, how did I ever get by without him? )
Personally, the thing I find most aggravating is that THIS is what Alison Bechdel will be forever remembered for. Not handling hot-button issues with intelligence, depth, and nuance surpassing even the brilliant Tom Tomorrow. Not a rich cast of lesbians complex, endlessly fascinating, and incredibly sexy. (Seriously, you ever read a typical lesbian comic*? This is pretty amazing.) Not an in-depth look into subcultures that most of us, regardless of how we swing, would have the faintest inkling of otherwise. Not the end-of-book narratives, some of the most riveting storytelling I’ve experienced in any medium in my life. Not the two exhausting tomes she did about her parents. Not the plethora of causes she’s supported. No, when all is said and done, her entire life is going to be boiled down to one stupid “rule” she made up because she had a deadline to fill.
Hey, know why she started out with generic, interchangable characters? Because in the early days she was all over the place. She admitted it herself in The Indelible Alison Bechdel. She was fresh and new and there were a lot of things she wanted to cover: butch/femme politics, the media, religion, the relationship cycle, and, yes, movies. But in time…and if you’ve read the books, you can see that it didn’t take very long…she outgrew this model. She gained more confidence in her drawing. She’d run out of general issues like butch/femme. She wanted, no, needed something with a lot more potential. And so Mo and Lois came to be, and the rest is history**.
My point is, elevating this one cheap, knockoff, one-and-done, trivial, meaningless brainstorm-era comic to mythic status, to the point where a magazine is judging movies based on the “Bechdel Test”, strikes me as at best wrongheaded and at worst downright insulting. If you’re truly interested in her opinion of the state of the movie industry, I’m sure she’d be happy to do a proper-length dissertation on the subject. (For a fee, of course. Her time is valuable.)
Wow, I sure sounded like MovieBob here, didn’t I? Don’t worry, I consider that a compliment.
Especially Hothead goddam Paisan, but I’ll tackle that one in another thread.
** Am I supposed to say “herstory”? That always sounded cornball to me. And anyway, shouldn’t it be “hertory”? Just sayin’.