The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Get on Up

Get on Up is a film based on James Brown’s life, and  if all of the events in the film are an accurate portrayal of Brown’s life, then he certainly lived a very difficult but interesting and amazing life.

Get on Up is told in non-chronological flashbacks and it reveals numerous parts of Brown’s past like how he had grown up in deep poverty and lived in an abusive home, how he had been raised by prostitutes, that he had been in prison, that he had abused his wife and that he had been a bit of an egomaniac. The film also showcases that Brown was not only the creator of a musical genre but that he built his career on virtually nothing.

Overall, Get on Up is definitely an interesting film worth the watch, and that being said, if Brown didn’t have talent, then I don’t know who does.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Get on Up passes the race test but does not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

The film easily passes the race test as there are numerous instances where non-White characters talk to each other without mentioning White people. The film does not pass the Bechdel or Russo test, however, because named women never talk to each other without mentioning men and there are no LGBTI characters.

*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.

Advertisements