The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Birdman

Birdman did not pass the Bechdel, Russo and race test.

Women never talked to each other without mentioning men, non-White characters never spoke to each other, and there was a moment where Lesley and Laura kissed but it didn’t seem like either of them were actually gay or bisexual. The random scene occurred during a moment of frustration and Laura may have kissed Lesley because she was having problems with a man, and a man had almost just raped Lesley. This seems like weird logic, but it was a weird movie, and it’s the only explanation that I can think of because Lesley had never shown any previous interest in Laura, and Laura had never shown any interest in Lesley. Overall, the moment just didn’t seem very genuine and looked like it was just thrown in there to be random and weird and to please the male gaze. Thus, Birdman did not pass the Russo 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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