The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Around the Block

Around the Block is about a young Aboriginal man and a White American school teacher. Both the young man and the American school teacher are lost and are at a point in their lives where they must make a choice. For the young, Aboriginal man, he must decide whether or not he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps or whether he wants to make more of himself and live a life with passion instead. For the American school teacher, she must decide what sort of life she wants to live and whether she should sacrifice her beliefs or not.

Around the Block is moving, though it does have a bit of a White savior complex going on. As to how the film fares when faced with the Bechdel, Russo and race test, Around the Block passes all three tests.

Around the Block passes the Bechdel test as there is one instance where named women talked to each other without mentioning men – that is, when Dino meets with her ex-girlfriend. The film passes the Russo test as well as Dino and her ex-girlfriend are lesbians/bisexual, they are not solely defined by their sexual orientation, and they are important to the plot (e.g., Dino is a main character and her ex-girlfriend is important to her growth). As to the race test, Around the Block also passes the race test as there are several occasions where non-White people talk to each other without mentioning White people.

*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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