The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Ethan (Tom Cruise) discovers a secret organization called the Syndicate. However, right when he discovers this organization, IMF is disbanded. Ethan thus finds himself trying to find and destroy this secret organization on his own, and he faces many obstacles along the way, including facing off against the American government and figuring out exactly where different individuals’ loyalties lie.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation passes the race test but does not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

Ethan chases after Ilsa.

There are some non-White actors in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation who occasionally speak and there is one occasion where some of these non-White actors speak to each other (e.g., two non-White employees at the power plant talk about a glitch in the water system). In the one moment where non-White actors do speak to each other, White people are not mentioned so the film passes the race test. However, while Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation passes the race test, it does not pass either the Bechdel or Russo test.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation does not pass the Bechdel test for two reasons. One, because of the three women in the film who ever speak, only one has a name (e.g., Ilsa), and two, because women (named or unnamed) never speak to each other. And Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation does not pass the Russo test because there are no identifiable LGBTI characters in the film.

*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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