The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky, a film from Gavin Hood, explores the politics and consequences of modern warfare. How does the film do this? Through a British colonel (Helen Mirren) and lieutenant general (Alan Rickman) who order the execution of terrorists in Nairobi, Kenya via a drone missile strike.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Eye in the Sky passes the race test but it does not pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

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U.S. pilots target a terrorist compound.

The majority of the cast of Eye in the Sky is White, but there are some non-White individuals in the film and because there are a couple of instances where some the non-White individuals in Eye in the Sky not only talk to each other but talk to each other without mentioning White people, the film passes the race test.

As to Eye in the Sky’s gender representation, most of the cast is male with a few women here and there and while some of the women that are in the film have names, Eye in the Sky does not pass the Bechdel test and the film does not pass this test because named women never talk to each other.

Eye in the Sky also fails to pass the Russo test, and the film does not pass this diversity test because there are no LGBTI characters in Eye in the Sky.

*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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