The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Jungle Book

Based on the infamous novel of the same name, The Jungle Book tells the tale of Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a young boy who has been raised by wolves, and how he flees his only home, the jungle, when a tiger threatens his life.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

The Jungle Book does not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

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Mowgli bids farewell to his mother Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) as he prepares to leave the jungle.

There is only one human in The Jungle Book, Mowgli, so for obvious reasons, the film does not pass the Bechdel or race test, and The Jungle Book also fails to pass the Russo test and the film does not pass this test because Mowgli is never identified as 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.