A New New Bechdel Test

Recently, Tumblr users created the Mako Mori Test, a kind of alternative or addition to the Bechdel Test. Citing its inefficiency in evaluating a character like Mako in a movie like Pacific Rim, fans wanted to create a more versatile test. The results: a movie must A) have at least one female character, who B) has her own narrative arc that is C) not about supporting a man’s story. While I appreciate the usefulness of the Bechdel Test as a tool, it can be limiting. The Mako Mori Test allows for a different perspective than the Bechdel Test. Instead of focusing on the verbal and physical presence of women in movies, the Mako Mori Test emphasizes the development and complexity of a female character.

I know what this looks like, but I swear this isn’t really about Pacific Rim. The Mako Mori test, like the Bechdel Test, has the ability to draw our attention to the inadequacies of writing, beyond the scope of only one movie. The lack of Makos on film is a quality that is so engrained in the film industry that it practically defines it. One of the many things that struck me about the writing in Pacific Rim is that Raleigh’s development as a character is inextricably interconnected with Mako’s. Raleigh doesn’t advance at the expense of Mako; he wouldn’t have been able to grow as a character without her growing, too.

So I started to think. Though useful and well-meaning, tests like these always focus on female characters, essentially creating more and more rules for them. More restrictions, more ways we can critique the perceived inadequacies of female characters. Taken to an extreme they can become a version of the dreaded Strong Female Character, or the equivalent to slapping the Mary Sue or Manic Pixie Dream Girl label on every fictional woman.  So I thought: why not start regulating our male characters?

Today I propose the Raleigh Becket Test.

A movie successfully passes the Raleigh Becket Test if there is A) a central male character, whose narrative arc B) requires the development of a female character, and who C) never becomes romantically or sexually involved with this female character.

Obviously the first one is pretty easy. Almost every movie in existence passes the first one, but the other two are not so easy. As much as I’d love to see more Makos on the screen, I’d also like a few more Raleighs. He cares so deeply for Mako’s personal growth, without ever once wanting to have sex with her. That’s pretty revolutionary, too.

-Joanna