The Brunnen Test:  The named female speaking characters in a movie could have been replaced by a male character without damaging the narrative or significantly changing the plot. Question Who's Online | Find Members | Private Messages
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29,158 hits 3.0 (3 votes) Share Favorite | Flag 6 years ago by Guilty_Spark

Does your favourite movie pass the Brunnen Test?
The Brunnen Test: The named female speaking characters in a movie could have been replaced by a male character without damaging the narrative or significantly changing the plot.


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6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:02:11 PM EST (GMT-5)
The Bechdel Test question got me thinking, are there movies where the absence of women would make no substantial difference to the movie?

Aliens is an obvious example of a yes. The character of Ripley was originally written as a man and replacing Newt with a boy and Vazquez, Ferro, Spunkmeyer and Dietrich with men would have made no difference to the outcome of the movie, or the narrative. What I'm saying here is in order for the movie to work, to be believable, they weren't necessary.

The Messenger, on the other hand is an obvious no. A film about Joan of Arc where Joan has a penis? That would be a MAJOR change to the plot and narrative.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:04:30 PM EST (GMT-5)
And if you'e wondering why you've never heard of the Brunnen Test before, that's because I just made it up.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:05:43 PM EST (GMT-5)
i dunno if the themes of motherhood would have worked so well in aliens with a dude
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:13:56 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:05:43 PM skyfish wrote:
i dunno if the themes of motherhood would have worked so well in aliens with a dude


True, but that wasn't a minor narrative point. The main themes in Aliens were about corporate greed and military overconfidence / ineptitude in the face of the unknown (with Vietnam references).

Take Starship Troopers. That one I would consider borderline because in order for it to work they would have had to change the sexuality of the main character, which could be argued to be a big enough change to the narrative to be a fail. But that's ALL they would have had to change.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:29:36 PM EST (GMT-5)
DAE women are literally replaceable and unnecessary?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:32:26 PM EST (GMT-5)
what does dae stand for
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:33:19 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:29:36 PM Kungfullama wrote:
DAE women are literally replaceable and unnecessary?


DAE?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:33:52 PM EST (GMT-5)
"Does Anyone Else," and usually the verb (most often, "think") is implied by the construction.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:36:30 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:33:52 PM Malletman wrote:
"Does Anyone Else," and usually the verb (most often, "think") is implied by the construction.


I see.

In that case, I would point out to kung that that isn't what the question is asking.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 10:38:08 PM EST (GMT-5)
Definitely not! A male playing the Mother of Jesus would most certainly NOT work.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Wednesday 1/8/14 - 11:14:16 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:05:43 PM skyfish wrote:
i dunno if the themes of motherhood would have worked so well in aliens with a dude

The studio did try to change the main character in Gravity to a man. Kind of massively missing the point.

But then, studio decisions like that don't care about damaging the plot or the narrative.

A lot of characters could be gender swapped easily, but I'd say there are vastly more male characters that could have easily been female characters.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 2:32:30 AM EST (GMT-5)
Alien 3 wouldn't pass.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 4:10:01 AM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 2:32:30 AM Abzurd wrote:
Alien 3 wouldn't pass.


Why?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 8:00:42 AM EST (GMT-5)
On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:04:30 PM Guilty_Spark wrote:
...I just made it up.

I like it! I have my concerns, though...
On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:02:11 PM Guilty_Spark wrote:
...are there movies where the absence of women would make no substantial difference ...?

On Wednesday 1/8/14 - 7:29:36 PM Kungfullama wrote:
DAE women are literally replaceable and unnecessary?

This helps illustrate my concern. On the one hand, this could be interpreted as insinuating that women are unnecessary, like kfl said. On the other hand, it could be evidence that women are getting parts that could have gone to men and in the past, and might have, but now they're holding their own in some way. Being "unnecessary" is a bad thing, but being included *despite* being unnecessary is cool.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 9:28:51 AM EST (GMT-5)
Not sure that anything in inherently wrong with being 'unnecessary'. It seems to me that the knife cuts both ways- - women that can be replaced with men are no more unnecessary than the men they have already replaced.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 9:59:14 AM EST (GMT-5)
The phrase "without damaging the narrative or significantly changing the plot" doesn't lend itself to an easy test.

It's conceivable for almost any film to write the characters in most films as either all male or all female and simply write any relationships in as same-sex relationships - and the skeleton of the narrative can probably be upheld, as long as the plot doesn't hinge about pregnancy.

However, you could lose a lot of thematic drive if you did this for some films. For example, in the Alien franchise, noted above - the outline of the narrative structure could be held intact, sure. Without a female Ripley facing an alien menace that is all about pregnancy symbolism, and in Alien 3, a female Ripley being dropped in the middle of an all-male penal colony, there's a lot to be lost.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 11:34:28 AM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 9:28:51 AM CowDung wrote:
Not sure that anything in inherently wrong with being 'unnecessary'. It seems to me that the knife cuts both ways- - women that can be replaced with men are no more unnecessary than the men they have already replaced.

Do you struggle to understand and accept that being considered necessary is overwhelmingly preferable to being considered unnecessary in the great, great majority of situations?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 11:41:41 AM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 9:28:51 AM CowDung wrote:
Not sure that anything in inherently wrong with being 'unnecessary'. It seems to me that the knife cuts both ways- - women that can be replaced with men are no more unnecessary than the men they have already replaced.
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 11:34:28 AM IRLIteach wrote:
Do you struggle to understand and accept that being considered necessary is overwhelmingly preferable to being considered unnecessary in the great, great majority of situations?


Do you understand the difference between 'wrong' and 'preferable'?

6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 12:30:14 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 11:41:41 AM CowDung wrote:
Do you understand the difference between 'wrong' and 'preferable'?

Do you really think we see eye-to-eye so well that we can ever trust that questions between us are rhetorical?

Did I use the word 'wrong,' which you then used in responding to me, or did you introduce it?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 12:33:35 PM EST (GMT-5)
Applying this test to a lot of romances and love interests in movies leads to having mental pictures of a lot of gay couples...
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 12:47:38 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 11:41:41 AM CowDung wrote:
Do you understand the difference between 'wrong' and 'preferable'?
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 12:30:14 PM IRLIteach wrote:
Do you really think we see eye-to-eye so well that we can ever trust that questions between us are rhetorical? Did I use the word 'wrong,' which you then used in responding to me, or did you introduce it?


My original comment used the word 'wrong' ('inherently wrong' to be specific). Your response to me used the word 'preferable'.

Are you just trying to pick a fight or something?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 1:12:13 PM EST (GMT-5)
I don't think I said anything that should reasonably be interpreted as "inherently wrong," nor was that particularly crucial to my point. Asking about that, then, is distracting and obnoxious. Are *YOU* trying to pick a fight or something?
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 1:23:19 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 1:12:13 PM IRLIteach wrote:
I don't think I said anything that should reasonably be interpreted as "inherently wrong," nor was that particularly crucial to my point. Asking about that, then, is distracting and obnoxious. Are *YOU* trying to pick a fight or something?


I didn't say that you did. Note that people usually use the 'quote' function when they are responding directly to, or commenting about a specific something that was posted.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 1:47:31 PM EST (GMT-5)
Or they post right after it. Or they create their own quotes using actual quotation marks. Or they type half a response, get distracted, and finish and post it later after 4 or 5 others have posted in the interim.
6 yrs ago, 2 mos ago - Thursday 1/9/14 - 1:54:54 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 1/9/14 - 1:47:31 PM IRLIteach wrote:
Or they post right after it. Or they create their own quotes using actual quotation marks. Or they type half a response, get distracted, and finish and post it later after 4 or 5 others have posted in the interim.


Yes, my post immediately followed yours (albeit about 90 minutes later). That's kind of the way things fall sometimes. I guess next time I'll try to hold my thought until someone else posts after you so you don't assume that I'm responding to you or trying to pick a fight with you.


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