The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Fish Tank

Fish Tank easily passed the Bechdel test. The film had a large female cast with a White teenage woman as the protagonist, and while a male played a substantial part in the plot, the women’s world did not revolve around him. In fact, when the female cast spoke to each other they hardly ever mentioned him or any other male. However, while the film did pass the Bechdel test, it did not pass the Russo or race test.

Fish Tank did not pass the Russo or race test because there were no identifiable LGBT characters, and while there were a few non-White characters in the film, they never spoke to each other.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

**The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.

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