The Bechdel Test: Disney Edition

We See You-- Disney remakes

Is it just me or is every classic Disney movie being remade? Since 2014, three classic Disney movies have been rebooted including: Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and Beauty and the Beast (to be released in March). Not only have movies have been rebooted, but my favorite Disney classics are coming out with sequels over a decade later.


So what is Disney doing here? Are they trying to make double the money on the same story, but with live action and CGI? Are the stories they are reintroducing more developed and engaging than their past counterparts? I wanted to see if there was a difference between the classic movies I saw as a kid and all the reboot movies I see today. I decided to apply the Bechdel Test, a representation in media test which only 57% of movies pass. My goal was to see if these movies were changing or if Disney was just trying to make some money off me again.

The Bechdel Test was created in 1985 and was named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. The only thing these movies are required to have to pass this test are:

1.Have at least Two (named) women

2.The women have to talk to each other

3.About something besides men

Here is what I found by rewatching a lot of Disney movies to find out if they could pass the bechdel test.


Cinderella 1950: 


Despite the fact that Cinderella is seen cleaning and slaving over her evil stepmom and stepsisters for most of the movie, she does at least have an active conversation with her Fairy Godmother about not losing faith in her dreams.


Cinderella 2015: 


Just like the original movie, Cinderella shares a similar conversation about following her dreams with her mother on her deathbed. Why are all the disney parents dead again?


Jungle Book 1967:


Not only does the Jungle Book not pass the Bechdel Test, but the movie concludes with a local village girl seducing Mowgli out of the forest, with her swinging hips, and her twinkling eyes. 


Jungle Book 2016:


Disney did a little better with the 2016 reboot. Not only did they turn that annoying snake from the first movie into a plot moving female, voiced by Scarlett Johansson, but they also dove a little deeper into the Mowgli’s wolf mother trying to defend her child. Too bad the wolf and the snake didn’t have a conversation. 


Toy Story 1995 and Toy Story 2 1999:


Both Toy Story 1 and 2 fail the Bechdel test. However, it does appear that Andy and his little sister are being raised by a single mother which I am sure a lot of us can relate to.


Toy story 3 2010:



Third time's the charm right? Despite the fact that the movie’s poster has 13 males on the cover and only 2 females, it still passes the test. Early in the movie Mrs. Potato Head and Jesse help barbie after Molly (Andy’s little sister) abandons her. 


Alice in wonderland 1951: 



You would think this conversation took place before the acid trip of wonderland began, but it actually doesn’t. The conversation is actually held between Alice and the Queen of Hearts, over the topic of Alice’s head.


Alice in Wonderland 2010: 



Coming in at an exciting 52% percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and known for Alice’s cardboard personality. Alice in Wonderland (2010) actually passes the Bechdel Test multiple times. Alice has conversations with the Queen of Hearts, with the White Queen, the two sisters have a conversation with each other. Alice is also chosen as a champion, and slays the evil Jabberwocky (it’s a dragon). 


Sleeping Beauty 1959:


Again another Disney Princess who does what exactly? For half of the movie Princess Aurora is asleep, never the less the movie does pass the Bechdel Test thanks to the fairies. Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather have many conversations with one another, and let's be real, Prince Phillip's ass would be grass if it wasn’t for them.


Maleficent 2014:



What did we find out from the movie Maleficent? This graceful, famous, female villain came to be because . . . of a bad break up? Yeah, Maleficent does turn evil because of a man she onced loved betrayed her, however, the movie dives deep into Maleficent’s backstory, and she actually has many conversations with the Princess Aurora.


Monsters Inc 2001:


Another Pixar film that fails the test. The movie consists 3 very diverse female characters! You have the sexy girlfriend, the old hag, and . . . a baby? None of which have an actual conversation with one another. At least they nailed what John Goodman would look like as a monster.


Monster University 2013:



Just like the first movie the Prequel to Monster’s Inc, Monsters University fails the Bechdel test. Despite the fact that Squishy’s mom is hilarious, and is totally identifiable, and the monster with the best scare record is female, neither of these characters interact which each other.


Finding Nemo 2003:



Similar to Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo features 12 named male Characters, and only 3 females: Dory, Flo, and Peach (The starfish!). None of them actually have a genuine conversation together one on one. 

Finding Dory:



Releasing almost a decade later, Finding Dory is just as fun and enjoyable as the first movie, and Pixar decided to add a few more females. We meet Dory’s old childhood Friend, Flo the whale, who helps her find her parents and regain her memory. Becky, who is known for being one of the funniest characters of the film is also female.


So what do you think? Do you think the Bechdel Test is a valid form of measuring female equality in movies? Or do you think it’s controversial? Whether or not you agree with the Bechdel test, I think we (and Rotten Tomatoes) can all agree that the classic Disney movies are better.