The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Under the Skin

Under the Skin failed to pass the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

There was only one instance in Under the Skin where Scarlett Johansson sort of interacted with other women and that was when a bunch of women jockeyed Johansson into a club. The women talked to her, but because they talked simultaneously and were so loud, one couldn’t understand a word that they were saying. Plus, not only did Johansson never actually speak to any of the women, but none of the characters had any names so it was impossible for this conversation (and thus the film) to pass the Bechdel test. It was also impossible for the film to pass the Russo and race test because there were no LGBT or non-White characters.

*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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