The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Predestination

Predestination raises questions about time and paradoxes in its examination of how a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) who time travels in order to prevent mass killings and John (Sarah Snook), an intersex man, are incredibly and inextricably tied together.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Predestination passes the Russo test but does not pass the Bechdel or race test.

Predestination passes the Russo test because John is intersex; he is the protagonist of the film and is thus central to the plot and cannot be removed (i.e., if he were taken out of the film there would literally be no film); and while the fact that John is intersex does play a significant role in the film, it does not solely define him (e.g., he travels through time, he’s resilient, he’s courageous and he has a strong sense of justice).

As to why the film does not pass the Bechdel test, there is never an occasion where named women talk to each other (in fact, only two of the women in the film have names), and Predestination does not pass the race test because the handful of non-White characters in the film 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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