The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Ilo Ilo

A Singaporean family is struggling with work, finances and their home life in Ilo Ilo when the family decides to hire a Filipino immigrant as a live-in nanny and maid. At first, the nanny has a hard time transitioning. She is in a brand new country doing a job she has never done before and the family’s son seems determined to make her life miserable. However, after awhile, she becomes an accepted part of the family, and when she has to go back to the Philippines (because the family can no longer afford her services) the son misses her the most. 

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Ilo Ilo passes the Bechdel and race test but does not pass the Russo test. 

Named women talk to each other several times in Ilo Ilo without mentioning men so the film easily passes the Bechdel test. Ilo Ilo also passes the race test as the entire cast is non-White (ranging from Singaporean to Filipino to Indian), and White people are never mentioned by the film’s cast. 

As to the Russo test, Ilo Ilo does not pass this test because there are no LGBTI characters in the film.

*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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