East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The Mako Mori test

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The Bechdel Test has been used in these last few years as an index of the degree … something.
Basically to pass the Bechdel test, a story (originally a movie, but it works for any narrative) must feature two female character, both with a name, that share a dialogue in which they do not talk about a man.
It’s been pointed out that the Bechdel test – that originally started as a joke in a satirical comic strip – is a useful tool to spot gender inequality, but beyond that, it’s very much a matter of hand-waving.

A story can pass the Bechdel and still be a pile of drivel, while a story can fail it spectacularly and still be a good, solid, fun and significant story.
Case in point?
Debbie does Dallas passes the Bechdel, Fistful of Dollars does not.

I still consider it a good warning sign for my own writing – I can sit back at one point in the story and ask myself, does it pass the Bechdel?
I am happy to say most of my stories do.
Some don’t, and some can’t.

But now I’ve found another test that is going straight into my toolbox, and that’s inspired by the giant-robots-vs-kaiju blockbuster Pacific Rim. It’s called the Mako Mori Test, from the character played by Rinko Kikuchi in the movie. You might remember her.

The test goes like this:

A movie (or story) passes the Mako Mori test if inside it we find

  • at least one female character;
  • who gets her own narrative arc;
  • that is not about supporting a man’s story.

Nice and smooth.
And compared to the Bechdel (but again, the Bechdel was a originally joke, if a bitter one) the Mako Mori test is a lot better, because it has to do with contents, and not just form.
I like it a lot, just as I liked Mako Mori in the movie.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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