The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Straight Outta Compton

Based on a true story, Straight Outta Compton is all about the formation, rise and fall of N.W.A., the hip-hop group that revolutionized hip-hop and gave voice to a silenced population via brutally honest (not to mention misogynistic) rhymes about the hood and abusive authority.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Straight Outta Compton passes the race test but it does not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

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Cops accost N.W.A. in the middle of their recording session.

The cast of Straight Outta Compton is primarily Black, and while there are instances where Black individuals talk to or about White people, there are also many instances where Black individuals only speak to one another and they do so without mentioning White people so the film passes the race test.

As to the Bechdel test, Straight Outta Compton does not pass this diversity test. The reason? Well, while there are a few women in the film and some of these women have names, women rarely speak in Straight Outta Compton and they never speak to each other.

Straight Outta Compton also fails to pass the Russo test, and the film does not pass this test because there are no LGBTI characters in Straight Outta Compton.

*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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