Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bechdel-compliant literature (also, the origins of Istanbul)

Tonight I heard a really fun quickstep version of Istanbul (not Constantinople). So I came home and looked it up on Wikipedia, and found out that it's been done by quite a lot of people, as it turns out: The Four Tops did it first, then Frankie Vaughan, Caterina Valente, Santo & Johnny (#141), Bette Midler, an avant-garde representation by The Residents, and more recently, Lee Press-on and the Nails.

Amusingly, I don't think any of those editions is the one I heard tonight.

But that's not why I brought you all here today. A while back I heard about The Bechdel Test, and recently it came up again in several conversations. While the actual list of Bechdel-compliant movies isn't particularly enlightening, it's a really interesting thought experiment to see how many books and movies you can list that follow Bechtel's Rule, and to notice (and wonder why) when things don't. Oh, here's the original article I read that introduced me to Bechdel, in which an ascending screenwriter learns that Bechdel's Rule must not be followed, and having considered the options, decides to leave behind screenwriting.

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