The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Palo Alto

Palo Alto is basically a story about a whole bunch of screwed up teenagers and adults. The film passes the Bechdel test but does not pass the Russo or race test.

The film passes the Bechdel test because there is one instance near the end of the film when named women talk to each other without mentioning men. As to why the film does not pass the Russo or race test, there are no LGBTI characters (hinting that someone’s dad is gay or bisexual does not count as it is not known whether he actually is gay or bisexual), 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.

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