The Rule

August 16th, 2005 | Oddments

This is Cathy writing, not Alison, despite what the author tag says.

Julie from Portland, OR, kindly emailed us to let us know that lefty blogs like Pandagon have been discussing the Mo Movie Measure a film-going concept that originated in an early DTWOF strip, circa 1985. We were excited to hear that someone still remembers this 20-year-old chestnut.

But alas, the principle is misnamed. It appears in “The Rule,” a strip found on page 22 of the original DTWOF collection. Mo actually doesn’t appear in DTWOF until two years later. Her first strip can be found half-way through More DTWOF. Alison would also like to add that she can’t claim credit for the actual “rule.” She stole it from a friend, Liz Wallace, whose name is on the marquee in the comic strip, reprinted below.

The Rule cleaned up

35 Responses to “The Rule”

  1. Kelly says:

    I quote this strip often, actually. It’s a great concept.

  2. _swallow says:

    I took the meme to college, where my friends now say, “That movie didn’t pass the Alison Bechdel test.” I guess we should change the name….

  3. Ide Cyan says:

    I’ve used this rule several times, including on the feminist film community I co-moderate on LiveJournal, where I just posted a link to this explanation. Thanks!

  4. regis says:

    oh gosh, yeah. it’s frequently referenced on several social email mailing lists i’m on. we call it “‘the dykes to watch out for’ test”

  5. badgerbag says:

    I use the idea all the time too… It works fairly well for books as well as movies.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve heard this one before, but haven’t had the discipline to follow it. Inga Musico refers to this rule in Cunt too (though this may be where she got it from). I’ve seen some variations which are saying that the female characters in question must have names – that makes it even more difficult.

  7. Morgan says:

    Humor can teach us so many things. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem to teach fast enough.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, glad to see this here. It’s too bad we can’t call it the MMM anymore. We had a lot of fun with it over at Pandagon.

    — Karl the Idiot

  9. tibbi says:

    I’m fairly sure they’ll be able to see “Serenity” (the Firefly movie) when it comes on the end of September. There’s four women in it, with lots to talk about besides men! :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    I haven’t seen a film this year that meets that standard. The last one that did was probably a Miyazaki film.
    –MC

  11. Ian says:

    Well, I remember enjoying this strip and it’s still true. I can’t think of many films that might pass the test even now?

    By the way, it can’t only be me who sees a strong resemblance of the protagonists to Lois and Ginger?

  12. This post has been removed by the author.

  13. I would have said Ginger and Mo, but yeah I see a resemblance.

  14. Aliza250 says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I heard this quoted around the time it originally came out, and have started discussions with/about it many times, though I didn’t know until recently that it was from a DTWoF strip.

    My life is complete now. :-)

  15. Anonymous says:

    How do you apply the rule if you haven’t already seen the movie?

  16. Fernmonkey says:

    I was thinking “That’s definitely Ginger, but who’s her date?”

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’ve used this rule since reading it. I have two kids now, and it’s even harder to find kids movies that meet the test than to find qualifying big person movies. However, it’s suprising that sometimes a movie that has all the frou-frou of an anti-feminist movie actually ends up meeting the test in spades (and being loved by my 5 year old daughter). If you watch movies without having heard this rule, you would be perpetually confused I think. j

  18. Anonymous says:

    I just got here via Alas, a blog. They are talking about Serenity – and this rule in particular (as well as many other interesting things). So then I came here – and here’s this post! In other news, I [heart] DTWOF and have exchanged various favorites with my sisters for years. So HI! *wave*

    mgan

  19. Aliza250 says:

    Actually, though Serenity is often cited as a movie with strong female characters, I’m not sure it passes the MMM. Unlike the TV series, I can’t think of a scene in the movie that featured the women talking to each other.

    There’s no banter at the dinner table. There’s no Kaylee and River playing jacks. Zoe never talks to River or Kaylee. Oh, wait – River talks back to her nameless teacher. :-(

    As to Anonymous who asked How do you apply the rule if you haven’t already seen the movie?

    Good question. Do the reviews mention more than one female character? Do the credits show more than one woman? Does more than one woman get listed on the poster? Does the trailer show more than one woman?

  20. Sounds like what we need are feminist movie reviews. YEAH!

  21. Ro says:

    How many sexist rom com idiot fests feature women talking about shopping and careers. thats doesnt make them feminist. although this is an intersting rule

  22. Ned says:

    I guess Lawrence of Arabia is out of the listing though I can’t wait to read Dyke’s to Watch Out For in the Funny Times

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