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Thu Sep 18, 2014, 06:49 AM

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Wins MacArthur Prize

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel, Who Created ‘Bechdel Test,’ Wins MacArthur Prize

The cartoonist and graphic memoirist who upended the way we think about women in film has just won the prestigious genius award


The MacArthur Foundation has announced the 21 recipients of this year’s fellowships, often referred to as the “genius grant,” and among the honorees is cartoonist and graphic artist Alison Bechdel, who is known for her graphic memoirs Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and Are You My Mother?

The prestigious fellowships, which are awarded based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000, spread over five years, which can be spent in any way the honorees see fit.

Bechdel, who is currently at an artist residency in Italy, told the Los Angeles Times that when she received the call announcing she won, “It was crazy.” She added, “It was a little garbled, then I heard the person on the other end say the words MacArthur Foundation and the world started spinning.” Bechdel is only the second graphic novelist to win the fellowship after Ben Katchor won in 2000.

Even those who aren’t familiar with her cartoons or graphic memoirs have likely heard of the 54-year-old Bechdel, whose work has inadvertently upended the way we think about movies with her now famous Bechdel Test. The test, which the cartoonist coined in 1985 in a strip called “The Rule,” asks three questions of a film as a way to demonstrate the very basic level at which gender biases operate in movies: 1) Does the movie have two female characters?; 2) Do they speak to each other?; 3) Do they speak about something other than a man? Sadly, many movies — even today, almost 20 years after the test was created — don’t pass. Yet the very fact that the Bechdel Test has become a mainstream concept, rather than a niche, radical feminist idea, proves how much influence it has had.


http://time.com/3392463/alison-bechdel-test-macarthur-prize/

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Reply Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Wins MacArthur Prize (Original post)
mercuryblues Sep 2014 OP
irisblue Sep 2014 #1
ismnotwasm Sep 2014 #2
mercuryblues Sep 2014 #3
starroute Sep 2014 #11
CTyankee Sep 2014 #4
Tuesday Afternoon Sep 2014 #5
CTyankee Sep 2014 #7
Tuesday Afternoon Sep 2014 #9
eggplant Sep 2014 #6
CTyankee Sep 2014 #8
eggplant Sep 2014 #10
markpkessinger Jun 2015 #12
mercuryblues Jun 2015 #13
mercuryblues Jun 2015 #14

Response to mercuryblues (Original post)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 08:40 AM

1. and it came from a 1985 Dykes To Watch Out For

cartoon strip. I cannot get the time website to open, does it get mentioned in that article?

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Response to irisblue (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 08:47 AM

2. Not that I saw

But it's good news

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Response to irisblue (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 08:54 AM

3. I had

a heck of a time C&P from there. I thought it was my PC acting up.

Here is a Think Progress link

http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2014/09/17/3568454/the-woman-who-created-the-bechdel-test-is-a-genius-officially/

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Response to irisblue (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 12:13 PM

11. I noticed that Time seemed to be going out of its way to avoid that title

It names some of her other works. It says that the Bechdel Test first appeared in a strip titled "The Rule." Everything but Dykes To Watch Out For.

Funny about that.

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Response to mercuryblues (Original post)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 09:04 AM

4. wonderful!

When I was doing some art travel in Tuscany last March I ran into a woman who had won a MacArthur for her book on women in the labor movement in this country. She didn't reveal it but her husband did at a restaurant one evening. She was a little reserved but I was so eager to hear about her work she told me about it. I was a little star struck, tho!

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #4)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 09:46 AM

5. What a wonderful anecdote from your travels, CTyankee!

I would have wanted to rush out, buy the book and get her autograph

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Response to Tuesday Afternoon (Reply #5)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 09:51 AM

7. I tried but it was out of print. She got her MacArthur back in the early '80s.

She and her husband were faculty at Brown University (both poli sci) and I asked her how her colleagues at the Ivy League school acted when they found out. She said there was a distinct chill in the relationship...they had to congratulate her but seemed pretty pissed...I got a HUGE laugh out of that!

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #7)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 09:57 AM

9. lol ... The Green-Eyed Monster reared it's head, eh?

too bad about the book. that would have been a real treasure.

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Response to mercuryblues (Original post)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 09:50 AM

6. Some better links

Links:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/09/17/alison-bechdel-just-won-a-macarthur-foundation-genius-grant-shes-already-changed-the-way-we-talk-about-film/

http://www.macfound.org/fellows/908/

We've been talking about this announcement quite heavily on our Simon's Rock College (www.simons-rock.edu) alumni board. It's a truly impressive honor.


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Response to eggplant (Reply #6)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 09:52 AM

8. Absolutely, right up there next to a Nobel, IMO!

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #8)

Thu Sep 18, 2014, 10:09 AM

10. A self portrait, and even more content

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Response to mercuryblues (Original post)

Mon Jun 1, 2015, 08:58 PM

12. I realize I am about 9 months late in responding to this thread . . . `

. . . but I hope you have been following what has been happening with Alison Bechel (whom I grew up with, whose father was one of my high school English teachers and whose mother I worked alongside in summerstock theater productions), and her book, "Fun Home," which was first turned into an off-Broadway musical that had a wildly successful off-Broadway run in 2013, and which opened on Broadway in April. I saw both the off-Broadway production, which I wrote about here on DU at the time, and the Broadway production in April, which was even better!

Fun Home has been nominated for TWELVE(!) Tony Awards, including:

Best New Musical
Best Original Score
Best Book for a Musical
Best Direction of a Musical
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Best Set Design of a Musical
Best Orchestration
Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris, as Bruce Bechdel)
Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Beth Malone, as Alison Bechdel)
Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Judy Kuhn, as Helen Bechdel)
Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Emily Skeggs, as 19-year-old Alison)
Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Sydney Lucas, as small Alison)

A friend today asked me how I would handicap the various Best New Musical nominees (which include An American In Paris, Something Rotten!, and The Visit). I haven't seen them, so I can't really evaluate those productions. From what I have been able to glean, however, An American in Paris seems to be the most likely other contender. Here is what I wrote in response to my friend's query on Facebook:

As far as I've been able to tell, An American in Paris is also a strong contender. I haven't seen that show, and cannot comment on the production itself. I trust, from the many fine reviews it has received, that it is an exquisitely sung and danced adaptation of the 1951 movie -- a classic Broadway-style song-and-dance extravaganza, executed to near perfection. It will undoubtedly be the bitter commercial success, and will always be able to fill a larger theater, than will Fun Home, which, by its very subject matter, will appeal to a somewhat narrower audience , and the fact is commercial success often factors into which shows receive Tony Awards.

All of that said, however, if the Tony Awards are to represent genuine theatrical achievement, and not mere commercial success, then I think Fun Home should be the rightful recipient. Let's face it: shows like An American in Paris have been done -- indeed, they have been done to death, if you ask me. How ever beautifully mounted and performed An American in Paris might be, it remains formulaic, and follows a predictable path to commercial success, while taking few theatrical risks and breaking no new theatrical ground. Theater, like any other art form, must continually evolve and develop. Shows like An American in Paris -- essentially rehashes of past Broadway successes -- do not really move the ball forward artistically speaking.

Fun Home has been remarkably commercially successful in its own right, however. Its producers wisely chose to mount it in one of Broadway's smaller, more intimate theaters, and it has been enjoying sold-out or nearly sold-out performances every night since it opened. But more importantly, Fun Home moves that artistic ball forward in a way, and to a much greater extent, than do any of its competitors. It represents artistic risk-taking and genius at its very best, and on many fronts: theatrical musical, social and political. To me, it represents the very best of what Broadway theater can be -- a potential that, unfortunately. Broadway shows to often fail to come close to fulfilling.

My bias is obvious. We'll just have to wait and see how the Tony Award committee members feel about it.!

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #12)

Tue Jun 2, 2015, 08:33 AM

13. Thanks

for the update. It is very much appreciated. Best wishes to her!

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Response to markpkessinger (Reply #12)

Sat Jun 13, 2015, 03:25 PM

14. Fun Home won

Best Musical

Best Director of a Musical: Sam Gold, Fun Home

Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Michael Cerveris, Fun Home

Best Score: Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, Fun Home

and

Best Book: Lisa Kron, Fun Home


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