Magnus, Robot Fighter – Introduction

Scans Daily posted some pages of this mess that had to do with the Bechdel test, then, being generally unreliable, proceed to not understand the Bechdel test and defend sexism, because they’re a progressive comm like that.

(They also kept up the Mako Mori test bullshit. SHUT THE FUCK UP ABOUT MAKO MORI. The fact your fun robot movie flunked the test because it had no other female characters even speak on camera is not a sign you need to write an entirely new test that boils down to a different yes/no question about the portrayal of women, but removes the ability to objectively measure it in return for making it so only a few types of characters can ever pass, because wahh it’s being mean to Pacific Rim precious baby movie has precious feelings!)

But back to this. Let’s see the pages.

 

And you know what? It’s on.

This panel here is the one and only moment in four twenty-page issues that passes the test. Do you know how many panels even have two female characters at the same time?

That’s it. One page’s worth of panels in the single issue, all but one from mocking the idea that the Bechdel test means anything and the last one being a woman throwing herself over a man to be shot. The two characters who exist outside of this single joke (the first and last panels) are the female “robot fighter” who tried and completely failed at the main white guy’s task before the series even starts, and the robot woman who’s there to be a victim while telling us about how her life revolved around a boy.
In conclusion, the Bechdel test matters and fuck anyone for saying otherwise. Double fuck anyone saying it while writing about a white guy who keeps comparing his life to the suffering of black slaves.
Next, we’ll go through the comic and see how this happened.

38 Comments

  1. illhousen says:
    I found the joke funny because there are people who purposely write a single meaningless conversation between two women and then proudly announce with all seriousness that their work passes the test. I though the joke was mocking them.

    Judging by the tone of the post, it mocks the test itself?

    I don’t know anything about the comic in question, so more background information would be welcome.

    1. Farla says:
      It should be a funny joke where the comic’s previous good handling of women is contrasted with a character that is someone attempting the bare minimum. Instead, the joke about the bare minimum is the best female representation we get and it’s only there so the author can tell readers to go fuck themselves for asking.
      1
      1. illhousen says:
        Ah, so it’s even worse than when people do similar things seriously.
  2. EdH says:
    I have to ask (I’m really ignorant on the subject), but the Bechdel Test just asks whether two women are discussing a topic other than men or relations with them yes? Assuming this is right, one could have a work with little women but still be not sexist. My point is, someone should have stopped talking after a certain point.

    And if I recall Mako Mori really doesn’t do that much. Then again I’m the grumpy type who thought Pacific Rim was so-so for a giant robot, so that colors my perspective.

    1. Farla says:
      Yup. Bechdel test is primarily good when it comes to looking at overall trends. I also like keeping tally with reverse-Bechdel and seeing how often men get to talk about non-women subjects.

      A work can also be horribly sexist and pass the test. A bunch of girls discussing their plans to have an orgy would pass with flying colors so long as they didn’t explicitly look at the camera and say, “Which we’re only doing for the sake of pleasing male viewers in the coveted 18-49 bracket!”

      Certainly this technical pass does nothing to stop the main character meeting a woman who looks like his wife and proceeding to spend the next few issues arguing with her that his possibly totally false memories of someone who looks like her proves she’s his property.

      1. EdH says:
        Is that last paragraph from a real work? Scary, If it’s real.
        1. Farla says:
          From this real work, even. Because COMICS.
          1. EdH says:
            And here I thought we were far gone from the days of Ms. Marvel and creepy time rape things. Nope, that’s just a dream. And this is why people can’t have nice things.
    2. Falconix says:
      Like Farla mentioned, the Bechdel test is meant to be used to look at trends, because on paper it should be trivial to pass. The few movies that do pass aren’t necessarily all feminist-friendly: a college-based webcomic once had some of its characters discuss it in a class, and a sample of films that pass it included Persepolis, Twilight: New Moon and a lesbian porn film.

      (The guy who suggested that lesbian porn technically passes the Bechdel test later admitted that most of his conversations with other guys involve women.)

  3. Roarke says:
    I’m trying to recall if the first Book of Dresden actually passes the Bechdel Test… I don’t think it does.

    Of course, the book is narrated in first person by a man. Harry is smart enough to limit his interactions with women to one at a time, so they don’t decide to band together and take him down (obviously one woman on her own is not a threat to Harry, vampiress or otherwise).
    edit: Though on the other hand, F/SN is narrated by a guy who literally stands in the kitchen while women discuss battle tactics without him, so…

    1. Farla says:
      Though on the other hand, F/SN is narrated by a guy who literally stands in the kitchen while women discuss battle tactics without him, so…

      While Harry is horrified by the idea of more than one woman arriving at his house.

      I don’t think it does pass, although I’ll keep an eye out. I forget if Evil Housewife Whose Fault This Is manages to get a line to her daughter that isn’t about Harry or her husband.

      It does pass the reverse – for example, ignoring Harry entirely, the cops chasing the junkie talk.

      1. Roarke says:
        Housewife tells her daughter and son to go to their rooms so she can talk to Harry. Doesn’t count due to the context.

        Linda Randall and the Missus Beckitt share a few words, also about Harry. “Who is this?” “My ex-boyfriend” is that exchange in a few words. Also does not pass.

        While Harry is horrified by the idea of more than one woman arriving at his house.

        Well, Shirou generally panics when there is more than one woman, or even just the one woman. But that reads more as a culture thing.

        Harry’s worry is very clearly “oh fuck they’re going to have a cat-fight” (which is a hilarious worry considering it’s his fault for double-booking and most women aren’t dumb enough to miss that). Either that, or he’s smart enough to realize they will both lose interest in him. Either way it’s his “unlucky with women” senses tingling.

        1. Farla says:
          Oh, Harry has reason to worry in this situation…but it’s because everyone knows the only reason he’d invite women over is sex. Two girls arrive at Shirou’s house, Shirou might panic but the girls will be willing to believe he wasn’t trying to cheat on one with the other.

          Harry, no matter how good at lying he is, would never be able to convince either woman that he wasn’t planning to have sex with the other one.

          1
          1. Roarke says:
            Yeah. Even disregarding the fact that Susan invited herself over by tricking our poor protagonist into a date, Harry was still jumping at the chance… hmm. Linda also called basically announcing she’d come over.

            That is just so hilarious, because even though men are supposed to make the first move, Harry doesn’t. Women just jump into his lap.

            1. Farla says:
              It’s because Harry has to be so awesome that he gets women even when he isn’t trying, because normal men try and Harry’s better than them.

              This coincidentally looks like how women wait to be asked out by men.

              Reply
              1. Roarke says:
                Speakin’ of which I finished the second book and wow, it was interesting. I noted slight technical improvements in the writing and even maybe a 1% decrease in overall misogyny, but goddamn, the male gaze is strong in this one. And I have this horrible suspicion that the author secretly delighted in being able to use his werewolf theme as a thin pretense to call women in the narration “bitch” as much as he liked.
  4. Falconix says:
    Is that “theme song” in the first scanned page meant to remind people of the Single Female Lawyer song from Futurama?
  5. antialiasis says:
    Glad I’m not the only one who thinks the Mako Mori test thing is kind of silly, especially when people propose Pacific Rim proves the Bechdel test needs to be replaced. I know Pacific Rim was fun and Mako Mori was more developed than your average female action hero and all, but people act like she was God’s gift to female characters and singlehandedly invalidates any possible feminist criticism of the movie.
    1. Socordya says:
      It’s crazy the things people do because they can’t admit their favorite work has flaws.
      1. illhousen says:
        “The narrator is just unreliable.”

        “It’s supposed to be ironic.”

        “The protagonist is completely justified in all actions because everyone else is horrible.”

        I guess we can add one more thing to this list.

    2. Farla says:
      I actually really did like her, but I still feel 90% of that is people who didn’t really care much about her holding her up as a favorite because they don’t consume anything that doesn’t revolve around men. Then they went back to their real favorites of the movie, the men.
      1. antialiasis says:
        I liked her too, but when I saw the movie I had seen her overhyped so much that I couldn’t help being pretty underwhelmed. All the fawning articles had given me the impression she was the real hero of the movie and had a major character arc with breathtaking depth. As it turned out she had some issues but we didn’t really see her having to work them out, and then she was shoved unceremoniously out of the spotlight for the climax of the movie while the boring male hero saved the day.

        I did really appreciate that they didn’t kiss at the end, though.

  6. SpoonyViking says:
    What IS this “Mako Mori test”, Farla? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it. Are people trying to prove “Pacific Rim” was some sort of feminist movie (or anything other than a painfully cliché movie with a few good action scenes)?
    1. Falconix says:
      I’m not Farla, but to my understanding, the Mako Mori test asks a movie to have:

      1) At least one (named) female character
      2) Who has her own plot line
      3) That is not in service of a male character’s

      So like Farla said, replacing the Bechdel test with that removes the ability to measure things objectively.

      1. SpoonyViking says:
        I see! Thanks for explaining. :-)
      2. Weirdly, when I remember the Mako Mori test being pitched back when Pacific Rim just came out, it was exactly the same as the Bechdel Test and just replaced the women with two non-white characters. Which didn’t sound so bad given a large portion of Mako Mori’s interaction was with Idris Elba’s character.

        But… apparently that wasn’t good enough? I don’t even know if Mako Mori actually passes the test they made for her as I don’t recall her being that important in Pacific Rim.

        1. antialiasis says:
          What you speak of isn’t the Mako Mori test – it’s just the racial Bechdel test, which has been around way longer than Pacific Rim. See for example here.
          1. Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me.

            Most of what I know about Pacific Rim is what I saw on my feed when Tumblr went gaga over it. That’s the only test regarding Mako Mori I remember being talked about and, again, I didn’t really care. When I finally got around to watching Pacific Rim, I found it to be a pretty mediocre giant robot movie. While Mako got more character development than most female characters in similar roles (I guess? Not really? Her backstory was interesting but she felt like a stereotype.) and was certainly more interesting than the protagonist, she was hampered by her role as the love interest. Not exactly test worthy material.

    2. antialiasis says:
      It’s a proposed “better” version of the Bechdel test that asks instead that the movie has at least one female character, who has her own character arc, which is not used to support a man’s.
      1. guestest ever says:
        I’ve never heard of it before and it does sound better than Bechdel. Except if you’re specifically writing to “pass” some sort of test, you’re a hack and likely an idiot.

        Which is what this loser being inspected here is. I do like me some misognyst jokes when they’re actually funny but this dumbass failed at both being funny AND misognyst here. There isn’t even anything sexist in those specific panels, this is the worst misognyst joke ever.

        1. antialiasis says:
          I’m definitely in favor of things passing the Mako Mori test. We need more female characters with their own troubles and issues and demons to deal with. There’s nothing wrong with it as a thing that should be in more movies.

          But the Mako Mori test as a replacement for the Bechdel test horribly misses the point of the Bechdel test, which is not to be a measure of whether a given movie is feminist (indeed, the Bechdel test is terrible at that), but to be an objective yes/no test that one would obviously expect to be passed by most movies (after all, almost every movie ever passes the reverse Bechdel test), and yet overwhelmingly, staggeringly isn’t. The reason it’s illuminating is that it exposes a really glaring sexist trend that’s impossible to deny.

          The Mako Mori test is 1) created on the premise that there must be something wrong with the Bechdel test because Pacific Rim doesn’t pass it even though its single major female character is clearly more developed and progressive than the female characters in some other movies that do pass it, which is missing the point because the Bechdel test is about examining trends, not about deeming movies that pass it to automatically be More Feminist than movies that don’t; and 2) is not nearly as objective as the Bechdel test and thus loses a lot of the ability to meaningfully examine trends the way the Bechdel test can, which is missing the point because that’s the whole point of the Bechdel test. Whether a character has an arc is a very fuzzy concept that you can argue back and forth about forever; you can’t meaningfully build a database of which movies pass the Mako Mori test and which don’t.

          Moreover, one of the brilliant things about the Bechdel test is that it’s such a low bar that it’s hard for anyone to deny that in a perfectly equal world most movies would pass the Bechdel test, because of the many, many conversations that take place during a typical movie, one in four of them would statistically happen to be between women, and only half of those that are about other characters would be about men. The Mako Mori test demands a character with an arc. Do the male characters in action movies have an “arc”? If they don’t, why would the female characters? It’s really easy to deny that movies not passing the Mako Mori test means anything, and that means it doesn’t have nearly as much power to be illuminating as the Bechdel test does.

          1
          1. SpoonyViking says:
            Thanks for the excellent explanation!
        2. Farla says:
          But it’s not actually a test. It’s someone stomping their foot over the fact their fun robot movie actually does have something wrong with it, so they made a description of what they were saying was good about the one and only female character who spoke at all in the movie and then said that should be how we classify movies instead.

          To get an idea of how worthless the test is as a test, you can easily argue Mako Mori doesn’t pass her own “test”, what with her character’s only interactions being with men and so her arc is about going against her adoptive dad and learning to work with her male partner.

          The Mako Mori test adds nothing. It’s like proposing the “well-written” test or the “I liked this character” test. It’s also already eerily close to being the “I normally watch movies that are 100% men and I have really shit standards and also am just talking about how cool Mako Mori is before going back to shipping the two scientists together but I want so many cookies for being feminist give me all of them” test. The person who did a lot to popularize it writes almost exclusively slash and madly fangirls the Dresden Files. (you can learn a lot about the fundamentals of good writing from these books: good characters (well-illustrated with strong dialogue, and drawn in ways that endear them to the reader quickly), strong, tight pacing, confrontation scenes that pack a huge wallop before the final climax, with linear plot points and a consistently progressive level of world-building.)

          1. guestest ever says:
            This is some random idea some random blogger (with bad taste) on the internet made up for specifically polishing some random movie that fails at Bechdel?

            [insert Nicholas Cage gif here]

  7. actonthat says:
    Psh, the Bechdel Test. I, for one, have never spoken to another woman, and if I did I would immediately bring up the nearest man, because my life revolves around men who are very very important and why would I ever not want to be talking about them?
    1. Farla says:
      I know, plus it’s just like objective fact that there are more men around so even if you wanted to, where would you find a woman, and what would there be to talk about but men, who also by nature are the ones doing everything important?
      1. Roarke says:
        Do these two comments even pass the Bechdel Test?
        edit: I guess the joke is that they don’t; sorry I’m slow this morning.
  8. actonthat says:
    Also, the two women in the “my cat” panel: holy sameface, Batman.

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