The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek has made another comeback (but this time under the direction of Justin Lin), and in its newest installment, Beyond, the Enterprise has been exploring space for several years when it is suddenly attacked during a rescue mission. The crew does its best to defend their vessel but they are ultimately forced to abandon ship and take refuge on an unknown planet after a sizeable amount of their crew is kidnapped by their assailants and the Enterprise is irreversibly damaged. So the problem thus becomes – how does the remaining crew rescue their comrades and escape the planet that they have crash landed on when they have close to zero resources and no one is coming to help?

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Star Trek Beyond does not pass the Bechdel test but it does pass the Russo and race test.

star-trek-beyond-idris-elba-as-krall
Krall (Idris Elba) attacks and overtakes the Enterprise.

There are a couple of women in Beyond (which is mostly male dominated), and while some of the women in the film have names, Beyond does not pass the Bechdel test and the film does not pass this diversity test because women (named or unnamed) never talk to each other. The film does, however, pass other diversity tests.

STAR TREK BEYOND
Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), an unexpected ally, assists the Enterprise crew in their efforts to rescue the rest of their crew and friends from Krall.

In Beyond, Sulu (John Cho) is made known to be LGBTI through a brief scene (e.g., there’s a scene where the Enterprise docks at a space station and Sulu greets his husband/boyfriend/partner and their daughter) and because he is part of the core cast and he helps captain the Enterprise and rescue the crew (i.e., he plays a vital part in Beyond), Sulu meets all of the criteria for the Russo test and the film thus passes this diversity test. Beyond also, surprisingly, passes the race test, and the film passes this test because there are a couple of non-White individuals in Beyond (e.g., Sulu, Krall [Idris Elba] and Uhura [Zoe Saldana]) and there are instances where some of these non-White individuals talk to each other without mentioning White people (e.g., on two separate occasions, Sulu and Uhura discuss Krall).

*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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