The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Pitch Perfect 2

In Pitch Perfect 2, the Bellas are three-time champions of the national A Cappella competition, but their status as champions is stripped away, and the Bellas are told that their group must disband when a scandal involving the Bellas occurs. Thus, in an effort to regain their honor and to reinstate the Bellas as a recognized college A Cappella group, the Bellas set out to conquer an international A Cappella competition, a competition which no American team has ever won.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Pitch Perfect 2 passes the Bechdel and race test but does not pass the Russo test.

Pitch Perfect 2 passes the Bechdel and race test because there are a couple of instances where named women talk to each other without mentioning men, and non-White characters talk to each other without mentioning White people.

Pitch Perfect 2 does not pass the Russo test for a couple of reasons. First, yes, Cynthia Rose is in the film, and she is gay so Pitch Perfect 2 does pass one requirement of the Russo test. However, because the audience knows nothing about Cynthia Rose besides the fact that she is a Bella, she’s in college and that she’s gay, and she is predominately defined by the fact that she is a lesbian the film does not pass one of the three requirements of the Russo test. Furthermore, the film also fails to pass a second part of the Russo test as Cynthia Rose doesn’t really add anything to Pitch Perfect 2 (i.e., she could easily be taken out of the film without any significant changes occurring to the plot of Pitch Perfect 2). Pitch Perfect 2 thus fails to pass two of the Russo’s three requirements so the film does not pass the overall test.

*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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