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Arts and Entertainment

Swedes Begin Rating Hollywood Movies For Sexism

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Swedes have begun rating films for their sexism, alongside sex, profanity and violence.

Last month four movie theaters in Sweden started rating films based on a simple but blunt feminist rule called the Bechdel Test, according to the Associated Press. It was popularized by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985, and there are only three rules for movie to pass the test:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

The test sounds easy but it's amazing how many movies don't pass: all of the "Lord of the Rings" movies, the entire "Star Wars" series, "The Social Network," and "Pulp Fiction." Just one "Harry Potter" movie passes the test. If a movie meets all those requirements, it gets an "A" in the new Swedish rating system. The movie theaters started using the test last month to highlight the sexism of movies (largely from Hollywood) that foreground men's stories. Ellen Tejle, the director of an art-house movie theater in Stockholm called Bio Rio, told the AP that most of the audiences have reacted positively and added that "for some people it has been an eye-opener."

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The state-run Swedish Film Institute supports the initiative and it's starting to catch on. The Scandinavian cable TV channel Viasat Film is going to start using ratings in its film reviews and on November 17, it plans a marathon of films that earn an "A": "The Hunger Games," ''The Iron Lady" and "Savages."

We'd be curious to hear what major movie executives think. However, the AP did manage to catch up with Jada Pinkett Smith while she was at some sort of benefit dinner for gender equality, and she liked the idea: "A feminist ratings system? That's so interesting! I say, hey, let's see if it works!"

But not everyone is a fan of the test even if they're a fan of seeing more of women's stories on the big screen. Swedish film critic Hynek Pallas told the AP: "There are far too many films that pass the Bechdel test that don't help at all in making society more equal or better, and lots of films that don't pass the test but are fantastic at those things."

And of course, the test doesn't account for Hollywood's casting couch problem.

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