The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Columbus Circle

Abigail is a shut-in. She has lived by herself and has not left her apartment in over a decade. When she learns that her elderly neighbor has died, she tries to buy her apartment, but Abigail is unsuccessful and a couple ends up renting the space. Abigail is not pleased with this, but there is nothing that she can do about it so she tries to just ignore their presence. However, this proves to be impossible. The husband is abusive, and when Abigail sees him beating his wife Lillian, she immediately takes action and drags Lillian through her (Abigail’s) door. From this point forward, Abigail’s life becomes forever intertwined with that of the couple’s and there is no going back.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Columbus Circle just barely passes the Bechdel test (even though the film revolves around two women) as there are two instances where Abigail and Lillian talk to each other without mentioning men. The film does not, however, pass either the Russo or race as there are no LGBTI characters, and non-White characters never talk to 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.