Will The Bantha-Fodder Test be The Answer to the Bechdel Test

Black Widow and Masters of the Universe-Revelation Became The Straw That Broke The Male Camel’s Back

There has been a monumental shift in the way female roles are depicted in film, television, comics, and the other arts that’s become the detriment to the male roles in the last few years. Ever since Sally Fields came on the morning show circuit to talk about her film, Norma Rae, where she pontificated that it was “a strong female role, every other actress has since then has followed suit with the same line that whatever role they played, it had to be the strong female role. It was, by far, the most important aspect in depicting that character development. Norma Rae

came out in 1979. It’s been forty-two years of parading Hollywood starlets waltzing out on some late-night talk show or morning show discussing the merits and strengths of their pretend character. By contrast, their male counterparts never had the luxury or hubris to state any declaration about the strength of their character depiction. It would be sacrilegious to promote a strong male character even if it was a comedy or horror genre.

In those forty-two years, actresses have made all kinds of strides and attainments in all aspects of the film industry. There are more directors, producers, writers, etc. as some productions are all-female production houses and nobody challenges these clear job discrimination practices. This, of course, is ignored because, why? What price are we paying for this type of practice?

The rhetoric has been ratcheted up with a list of new words added to the American lexicon such as toxic masculinity, man-babies, man-splaining, man-spreading, an instaphobe, incel, POS, as just a few of the derogatory words tied to being male, especially white males. More and more, films and television have bestowed these monikers on men sometimes just to put them down and demoralize them. The TV show, FBI, on CBS, had the female lead played by Canadian actress, Missy Peregrym, berates the lead male character played by Zeeko Zavi when she yells back at him for “man-splaining” something to her. I didn’t see any of that from what was a casual dialogue between the two. His character just took it as if he was a beat-up puppy. Then there was the first year of Supergirl when it was on CBS as well. In this one episode, an episode that caused me to stop watching it, Supergirl gets her ass handed to her by some costumed villain.

Superman intervenes later and captures the villain and what does Supergirl, do, she berates Superman and blames HIM for not thinking she was capable of doing things on her own. How dare he come to her rescue after she gets her ass kicked. Supergirl shows her appreciation by dressing down Superman in no uncertain terms as she puts him in his place by being a very ungrateful Supergirl. I was done with this show as it shifted into a radical feminist woke show.

This was the bellwether of what was coming, the derision of all men no matter how sincere that man was. In these forty-two years came this so-called instrument to let mostly females, the level of female independence a character has without the involvement of men. This test was known as the Bechdel Test. It was introduced in a comic by cartoonist, Alison Bechdel back in 1985.

It wasn’t meant to be the instrument it came to be but feminists took it as the scale of how female characters are depicted in film roles especially if there is no mention of the opposite sex. The film, Black Widow, checked all of the boxes as it scored high with the Bechdel test. It had two female leads, it was directed by a woman, men weren’t the main talking points, and a woman wrote the story but a man wrote the screenplay. In Masters of The Universe-Revelations, He-Man is reduced to an afterthought, male characters meet their end, and Teela, the female protagonist, is elevated to hero status along with her girlfriend.

As the film critic Grace Randolph succinctly put it, “there are no strong lead male characters or supporting male lead characters”. But these two films have perhaps crossed that line one last time in their depiction of the male characters. Perhaps it is time for a new test defining what male characters should be judged as an answer to the Bechdel Test because it looks like none of this is going away any time soon.

In fact, if you happen to belong to the LGBTQ+ community, there is something called the Vito Russo Test. It’s similar to the Bechdel Test but geared toward the gay community. Their criteria are as follows:

- The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender.

- That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity. I.E. they are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another.

- The LGBTQ character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should “matter.”

Did you know that this was even a thing? Of course, the average person wouldn’t know that this test was out there but it also shouldn’t come as a surprise either. The LGBTQ+ community is well funded, social media savvy, and politically cutthroat in pushing their agenda superseding other groups in all areas in the corporate and political world. The odd thing is though is that the Bechdel Test was originally created to explore the relationship with a lesbian couple. It got co-opted primarily by heterosexual feminist white females. So, technically the Bechdel Test is an LGBTQ+ legacy device.

As such, I will introduce to you the Bantha-Fodder Test. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you should be keenly aware of what bantha fodder is. However, this testing scenario represents the value of straight heterosexual male characters in film, television, comics, and in all fields of entertainment. You noticed that I didn’t call out white men. That is because all straight men have been on the chopping block since this labeling business occurred. Since the labeling of calling out white men as having or assuming “white male privilege, it would only be a matter of time before it would infiltrate men of color groups. There was a CW show called Black Lightning that just ended its series run this year. In the last season of this particular episode, Anissa, the oldest daughter, and superhero herself chastised her father for using his “male privilege” in fighting crime in the fashion that he’s been fighting it and some other perceived outrage that Anissa felt.

She that she was being placated by her father or whatever perceived outrage she may have had at that moment. Jefferson, the father and the Black Lightning superhero himself, was surprised and dumbfounded by the outburst. All of this was nothing more than her ”feelings” and was a nothing burger but that glove had been thrown down and he had to bend the knee to her whining. In addition to “white male privilege” the cancer of wokeness has now spread to “black male privilege” which in turn translate to “brown male privilege” and finally to ‘yellow male privilege” though I doubt you will ever hear anything about that as the gender dynamics aren’t really discussed in the Asian culture. The feminist agenda has slowly and methodically situated its canons to the men of color groups. quietly took aim, fired, and hit a new target. Nobody said a thing in the loss of casualties but now is a new day.

The scale for the Bantha-Fodder test is from 1 to 10 with one being the lowest value a male character depiction can be. Scoring the male characters will be assessed a value for any positive depiction of the male character and on the opposite side, points will be deducted against the male characters should any negative depictions are displayed. Here are the criteria:

POSITIVE

  • 10. Involved Dad
  • 9. Chivalrous -
  • 8. Displays Intelligence
  • 7. Unrequited stoic hero
  • 6. Stands by his Word
  • 5. Not a tokenized character
  • 4. Stands up to his morals/principles
  • 3. Is confident in his masculinity
  • 2. Doesn’t get rolled by the females
  • 1. Survives throughout the production

NEGATIVE

  • -10. Deadbeat Dad
  • -9. Indifference to the opposite sex
  • -8. Unsolicited buffoonery/stupidity
  • -7. Unabashed braggart
  • -6. A con man with no redemptive architect
  • -5. Is a tokenized characterization
  • -4. Is constantly berated and put down
  • -3. Has some effeminate characterization
  • -2. Gets constantly cucked and is a simp
  • -1. Is killed off or beaten up only to make a 95lb. woman look strong (deduct 3 extra points if the man is black, 2 extra points if he’s Latin, and 1 extra point if he’s Asian.)

Feminists may see this as a joke, an insult, rage bait, revenge porn, or whatever derogatory connotation that may devise. I see this more as being an equitable response to an uneven position in the entertainment business. Men in the entertainment business don’t truly reflect the common man, in terms of what or how they feel. The entertainment industry host many left-leaning men who would go along with any fad that doesn’t cost them any money or hinder their career. If some esoteric radical group gets on their soapbox and exposes some obtuse position and gets no opposition, the small maddening crowd that started off with a meow now finds it has a newfound roar spurred on by the left.

The entertainment industry has shifted tremendously in the last few years. Because of the woke culture, many IPs that were held in great favor have now become persona-non-grata.

- Ghostbusters 2016: The film where the four male leads were replaced by four women to disastrous results. Not only was the male character, Chris Hemsworth was a dumb dullard but he was also the “hot chick” The original cast members had nothing to do with ghostbusting and they killed off Bill Murray.

- Terminator: Dark Fate: They killed off John Connor. The new leader in the future is a squat of a woman who has no leadership skills. Sarah Conner is just a grumpy old lady and the Arnold Schwarzenegger character is a robot who hangs house curtains.

- X-Men: Dark Phoenix: A film where being a man is a sore point for all of the women and the acting can be found at the craft service table. Why was this ever green-lit for production?

- Black Widow: Poor Natasha Romanoff. They killed her off in Avengers: Endgame and then they bring her back for her standalone pic just for her to die a slow death, this time from the plot holes and the fact that all of the men were either a buffoon, a simp cuck, a bad guy, or a Hollywood mogul, uh, a human trafficker who mind-controlled women. Sounds like that Hollywood mogul guy.

- Masters of The Universe: Revelation: He-Man is killed off. Teela, a secondary character, shaves half of her head, listens to Indigo Girls and starts wearing cut-off plaid shirts, flexes her biceps as a mating ritual to attract her new girlfriend. By the power of Grey Skull.

These small lists of films all had one thing in common, they have a certain degree of wokeness in the soup and at the same time, diminishing the value of men. The men in the entertainment industry won’t talk about this pattern as they either won’t talk about it or are afraid of the repercussions and the canceled mob that will surely follow. What you will hear is from regular guys and girls on podcasts and YouTube channels who follow film and trends about the growing state of where the entertainment industry is in. The three new buzzwords in the entertainment industry are inclusion, diversity, and representation. Whenever you hear those words, you want to run in the opposite direction because it’s has become a dog whistle for male actors, especially white males. In this new alternative universe, roles can be gender-swapped and/or race swapped even with historical figures. Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII, was recently race swapped in a film. English Queen Anne Boleyn a predominately white woman was portrayed in the 2021 British mini-series, Anne Boleyn, by British black actress, Jodie Turner-Smith.

What was the purpose of the race swap? I even read where some people really believed that Anne Boleyn was a black woman. Would you welcome a race swap of Malcolm-X played by Tom Hanks? I’m sure that’s a no so why do this to Anne Boleyn? In this new alternative universe, certain groups are demanding authenticity for film and TV roles.

It’s no longer okay for actors who make a living pretending to be someone else. Scarlett Johansson lost a role because she wasn’t a transsexual man. She caught hell playing a Japanese android in Ghost in The Shell. Neil Patrick Harris successfully played a straight man as an active libido-charged man who has slept with countless women during the entire run of the series, How I Met Your Mother without a word of protest.

Now if a part calls out for the person to be gay, trans, bisexual, etc. you better be one in real life. Somehow, people have forgotten the meaning of acting. Actors can no longer pretend anymore, they have to BE whatever it is in real life. It’s no longer acceptable to earn the part on your own merits, instead, we get a paper-bag actor whose range is limited, and the only reason he is there is that he’s checked off some boxes.

Now we have to come up with “tests” to see if we are meeting certain standards because it meets and promotes a narrative from some outraged group. The Bechdel Test, the Vito Russo test, and now the Bantha-Fodder test want a part of that entertainment cake. In the long run, what will it really mean? Why have we imposed these restrictions on ourselves? Films used to be fun escapism outlets. Every once in a while you’d get some heavy stuff like The Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now but you also got the original Ghostbusters, Big, Deadpool, Thelma & Louise, Beverly Hills Cop, The Terminator, Alien, The Star Wars Trilogy where you just check your brain at the door and went in and had a good time. These films didn’t have agendas or identity politics or put down men. Women were respected.

It’s all about the money now, not the experience. Filmmakers are now being told that to be considered for Oscar contention, films need to meet strict guidelines and quotas. What if I’m doing a period piece where only one particular race is being presented but it’s a historical piece that has merit and relevance to the period in question? Is it now out of Oscar consideration? Maybe that is the problem, large corporations are worried about the dollar and not about the audience’s fun. They have taken the joy out of film-making and replaced it with research companies who have no concept of what IP they are studying. They don’t listen to the fans anymore judging by what the fans are called after a bad review hits the studio’s front door. Will you make the Bantha-Fodder test an actuality or do we just sit back and continue with this punishment? It’s up to you.

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Architectural Designer, Writer, Music Composer, Photographer, Film Editor, Project Manager, Producer, Director

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Bobbie L. Washington

Bobbie L. Washington

Architectural Designer, Writer, Music Composer, Photographer, Film Editor, Project Manager, Producer, Director

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