The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep

In the Taiwanese film When A Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep, a young man’s (Tung’s) girlfriend mysteriously disappears. The only thing she leaves behind? A note that says that she is going to cram school.

Tung waits for his girlfriend hoping that one day she will return, but when she never shows up, he winds up getting kicked out of their shared apartment. Luckily, Tung is saved from living on the streets and in destitution from a random man who offers him a job and a home at a copying business. It is from here onward that Tung comes to meet a whole random assortment of people, and through them (and one woman in particular) he learns not only new things about people and their relationships with others but about himself as well.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep passes the Bechdel and race test but does not pass the Russo test.

There are a couple of named women in When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep who speak to each other on occasion and because there is one instance where named women not only talk to each other, but talk to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Pao-Pao begs Yang to stay at the cram school), the film passes the Bechdel test. The film also passes the race test, and When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep easily passes this test because every conversation that occurs in the film passes all of the requirements of the race test since the entire cast is Asian and White people are never mentioned by any of the characters.

In regards to the Russo test, When a Wolf Falls in Love With a Sheep does not pass this test, and the film does not pass this test because none of the characters in the film are identifiably LGBTI.

*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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