The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: White Bird in a Blizzard

In White Bird in a Blizzard, Kat is a 17-year-old girl who is experiencing a sexual awakening when, one day, her mom disappears. Kat, initially, isn’t disturbed by her mom’s disappearance nor does she question where she could have been killed as she (Kat) has always had a tense relationship with her mother and her mom has repeatedly threatened to run away. Thus, when her mom disappears, Kat assumes that her mother simply got tired of her and her father and she abandon them. This belief, however, is eventually challenged, and Kat begins to wonder whether her father actually killed her mother.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

White Bird in a Blizzard does pass the Bechdel test but does not pass the Russo or race test.

The film passes the Bechdel test because there are several instances where named women talk to each other without mentioning men. The film does not, however, pass the Russo test, despite the fact that there is a gay character in the film, because the one gay character in White Bird in a Blizzard can easily be taken out of the film without affecting the plot, and the audience knows nothing about him except that he is gay and friends with Kat. White Bird in a Blizzard also fails to pass the race test because 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.

Advertisements