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Sweden Launched A Feminist Movie Rating

You know how there are ratings for sex, violence, and profanity? In Sweden, there is now also a rating that highlights sexism in cinema.

Posted on November 6, 2013, at 11:58 a.m. ET

Thelma & Louise, a film that passes the Bechdel test. / Via Pathé Entertainment

Movies traditionally warn viewers about profanity, nudity, or violence, but you can't always anticipate a film's gender bias.

Sweden is attempting to change that with a new movie rating that highlights sexism in cinema, The Associated Press reports. To receive an A, the film must pass the Bechdel test.

For those unacquainted, the Bechdel test has only three simple rules:

1) There are two women with names in the film.
2) They talk to each other at some point.
3) They talk to each other about something other than a man.

So far four Swedish movie theaters have launched the new system to draw attention to gender inequity in film. Most visitors have reacted positively to the initiative according to Ellen Tejle, the director of Bio Rio, one of the cinemas using the rating.

Ellen Tejle, the director of art-house movie theater Bio Rio in Stockholm, holds a Bechdel test approval A certificate.
AP Photo / Via Ami Bramme

Ellen Tejle, the director of art-house movie theater Bio Rio in Stockholm, holds a Bechdel test approval A certificate.

"For some people it has been an eye-opener," said Tejle, who claimed that movie viewers rarely see "a female superhero or a female professor or person who makes it through exciting challenges and masters them."

Cable TV channel Viasat Film will also use the rating in its film reviews, and has scheduled a "Super Sunday," on Nov. 17 when it will only show films that pass the test, like The Hunger Games, The Iron Lady, and Savages.

Not all support the feminist rating.

"I guess it does make sense, but to me it would not influence the way I watch films because I'm not so aware about these questions," said Vincent Fremont, 29, a student.

"There are far too many films that pass the Bechdel test that don't help at all in making society more equal or better," said Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas. "And lots of films that don't pass the test are fantastic at those things."

The Hunger Games, a film that passes the Bechdel test. / Via Lions Gate

According to a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women accounted for 33% of all characters and only 11% of the protagonists of the top 100 U.S. films of 2011.

"Apparently Hollywood thinks that films with male characters will do better at the box office," said Amy Bleakley, who led a University of Pennsylvania study that showed the ratio of male to female characters in movies has remained stagnant at a two to one ratio for six decades.

"Most of the aspects of movie-making — writing, production, direction, and so on — are dominated by men," she said. "So it is not a surprise that the stories we see are those that tend to revolve around men."

Here are just a few films that fail the Bechdel test:

Up

Pixar

The Shawshank Remption

Columbia Pictures

The Wedding Singer

New Line Productions

All but one of the Harry Potter movies.

Warner Bros.

Pulp Fiction

Miramax Films

The Princess Bride

20th Century Fox

Toy Story

Pixar / Disney

All films in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

New Line Cinema

When Harry Met Sally

Castle Rock Entertainment

Slumdog Millionaire

Fox Searchlight

Pirates of the Carribean

Disney

Shrek

Disney / Pixar

The Big Lebowski

Universal Studios

And in 2010, Kathryn Bigalow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for The Hurt Locker. It also fails the Bechdel test.

Summit Entertainment

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