The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Normal Heart

The Normal Heart passed the Russo test but failed to pass the Bechdel and race test.

The Normal Heart passed the Russo test because the film was focused on gay men and the beginning of AIDS so the film was dominated by LGBT characters; several LGBT characters were pivotal in the plot; and while many of the characters’ were gay, their sexual orientation did not solely define them.

As to the portrayal of women and people of color, women never spoke to each other and non-White characters never spoke to each other so the film automatically failed to pass the Bechdel and race test.

*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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