The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: St. Vincent

In St. Vincent, Melissa McCarthy plays Maggie, a single mom who moves to Brooklyn with her 12-year-old son, Oliver.

Because Maggie is the sole provider for her family, she has to work long hours. Consequently, Maggie is never around to take care of her son, so in an effort to mitigate this problem, Maggie pays her next door neighbor, Vincent (Bill Murray), to watch over Oliver.

At first glance, Vincent isn’t exactly the best candidate for babysitter – he’s surly, a gambler, owes a ton of money and drinks all of the time. However, despite his many short comings, Vincent also has a very kind side (e.g., he secretly takes care of his ill wife, he helps out a pregnant prostitute and he teaches Oliver life lessons) which is one of the many aspects of Vincent that Oliver learns of as the two embark on a very odd mentor/mentee relationship.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

St. Vincent does not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

There are a couple of named women in St. Vincent and there are some occasions where named women talk to each other, but because there is never an instance where named women talk to each other without mentioning men, St. Vincent does not pass the Bechdel test.

St. Vincent also fails to pass the Russo and race test, and the film does not pass these tests because there are no LGBTI characters in St. Vincent and because the non-White characters (which there are many) in the film never speak 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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