WHEN: 9:50pm EST, November 17th, 2012
WHERE: In my room in my apartment in Portland, ME (Alderaan)
FORMAT: DVD on an old 20 something” CRT TV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: Extremely tired. Had just eaten a TV dinner.
Actually keeping my eyes on the television is very difficult at this point in time. Anything is preferable. I can’t stand it. I know from my viewing a couple of weeks ago that I can pay attention while viewing with others. But alone, this is just miserable.
THE BECHDEL TEST:
Early on in the experiment, it was suggested that we put our movies to the Bechdel test. The Bechdel test is a method of rating a movie’s depiction of women. In order to pass the test, a movie must meet three criteria:
1. It has to have at least two named women in it.
2. They have to talk to each other.
3. Their conversation must be about something besides a man.
As it turns out, tons of films don’t pass this fairly simple test. For an extensive list, check out this website. But does High Fidelity? Well, the answer to that question is surprisingly complex.
High Fidelity‘s cast is full of women, most of whom have names. In two instances they do talk to each other. The first of these is technically in Rob’s mind when he imagines Laura talking to Liz about him. This obviously wouldn’t pass criteria number three. But then there’s this scene between Liz and Laura’s sister Jo:
Jo: Hi, Liz.
Liz: Hey, how are you doing?
Jo: I’m alright I suppose. Mom’s not too bad, but Laura… I don’t know.
Liz: Yeah, well she’s had a rough time of it already without this. It’s just so hard when you put all of your efforts into one area of your life and it doesn’t work out.
This is a rather ambiguous bit of dialogue, but it would appear to pass the third criteria. Until, that is, Rob (who was in the background) drops his two cents in:
Rob: Don’t mind me, really. It’s no problem, just pretend like you’re talking about someone else. It’s okay.
Liz: Well, in fact, we are talking about someone else. We’re talking about Laura.
So now we have a Schrodinger’s cat-esque scenario. If we side with Rob and conclude that the conversation is about him, High Fidelity fails the Bechdel test. If you side with Liz, and decide that the conversation was not about Rob, High Fidelity passes.
A POOR MAN’S FRUIT:
Since writing this, I have encountered people whose opinions on the longevity of fruit differ from mine, and as such the following rant may be completely unwarranted.
For someone with a failing business, Rob lives quite well. He has a fairly nice apartment in a big city. He can afford to go out for drinks several times a day. His personal record collection is beyond massive. Yet, his only source of income is a frequently empty store with abysmal customer service. It is a store in such poor shape that he must borrow thousands of dollars from his girlfriend to keep it afloat. Laura’s considerable income could be a factor in Rob’s financial comfort, but for the majority of the film, she is out of his life. And yet, his excesses continue. Consider this bowl of fruit:
Somewhere between 9 and 11 assorted apples and oranges.
The fruit appears to be real. There is a lot of it. In my experience, a pile of fruit this large goes bad before a single man has a chance to eat it all. It stands to reason, therefore, that sustenance is not this fruit’s primary function. By the time we see it, Laura has been gone for some time. This is Rob’s fruit. He has chosen to buy it, and display it. Rob lives alone and has, to our knowledge, no visitors. This is fruit of pure vanity.
Only a poor person in a movie would have such fruit. Fruit is not expensive, but if you are living week to week, you buy enough fruit to feed yourself. You keep it at temperatures where it will keep. You don’t let it sit out while you sleep over at Marie DeSalle’s. In real life, Rob would have his cigarettes. He would have his alcohol. He would have his records. But he would not be likely to have a large bowl of soon-to-be-rotten decorative fruit. But, I suppose set decorators make enough money to have bowls of fruit lying around.