The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: God’s Pocket

Mickey (Philip Seymour Hoffman) had a bad couple of days in God’s Pocket. His stepson died in a work accident; his wife was determined that her son had been murdered; he could not afford his stepson’s funeral; his truck was totaled; and a reporter came sniffing around about the death of his son and slept with his (Mickey’s) wife.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

God’s Pocket did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test. 

Named women never talked to each other without mentioning men, so God’s Pocket did not pass the Bechdel test, though it must be said that Sophie was the best part of the film, and she almost made up for the fact that God’s Pocket failed to pass the Bechdel test. The film also failed to pass the Russo and race test as there were no LGBTI characters, and there was only one non-White character (so it was thus impossible for God’s Pocket to pass the race test as non-White characters could not even have a conversation with 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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