The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Trainwreck

In Trainwreck, Amy (Amy Schumer) works at a magazine as a writer and she seemingly has it all – she has a great job, she has a great apartment and she has sex with whomever she pleases. That being said, Amy does have her own set of problems. Case in point, Amy’s father (Colin Quinn) has MS and he lives in a really expensive assisted living home. Amy pays for his assisted living but struggles to do so and is hoping that she will get a promotion at work in order to pay for his expenses. However, in order to get this promotion, Amy must interview a sports doctor (Bill Hader) and this is problematic because she knows absolutely nothing about sports nor does she enjoy sports. Nonetheless, Amy takes the job and she not only discovers new aspects about sports that she had never considered before but she also learns new things about herself and what she wants.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

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

Because there are two occasions where named women talk to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Dianna [Tilda Swinton] tells Amy that she is fired and Nikki [Vanessa Bayer] asks Amy if she wants her [Nikki] to reject the job promotion) Trainwreck passes the Bechdel test. The film does not however, pass either the Russo or race test, and the film does not pass these tests because 1) the one character in the film who is implied to be gay is not important to the plot nor does he have an identity outside of being gay (i.e., he is solely defined by his sexual orientation) and 2) because the one time non-White actors talk to each other, White people are mentioned (e.g., the Black straight couple in the movie theater talk about Steven).

*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 television. 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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