raemsbaems said: Hey, I'd be interested in helping out with doing more Racial Bechdel Tests but I I'm pretty terrible at writing in English, especially summaries. Anyway, since I recently stumbled about the Mako Mori test let's to the RBT on Pacific Rim (within the limited space of an Ask): Is there more than one character of colour? Yes, Mako Mori and Pentecost. 2. Do they talk to each other? Yes, on several occasions. Do they speak to each other about anything other than white people. Yes.
I was actually going to go more in-depth on Pacific Rim now that I’m done with classes right now. During my winter break I plan to have at least one review up per week.
ferveurfemme said: This may not be something your current staff would be up for but it'd be really cool to test videogames as well!
Actually, that sounds like a great idea! Maybe I’ll find a way to work that in somehow.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is a medieval fantasy drama and the adaption of the bestselling series of novel A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. The series follows the multiple storylines of the violent dynastic struggles of the noble families in the seven kingdoms of Westeros, with the ongoing threats occurring from the dreaded north of the wall and the eastern continent Essos across the narrow sea.
The series features large cast with many engaging and storylines. Bringing something a different to the high fantasy genre on TV that has never been done before. The scenery is very beautiful and all too real with filming taking place in Northern Ireland, Malta, Croatia, Iceland and Morocco. I feel the special effects mesh really well with the real life landscapes as shown with the final scene in the last episode of Season 2.
- Is there more than one character of colour? Yes they are in the space of two seasons there are people of colour such as Khal Drogo and the Dothraki are mainly people of colour. There is also Salador Saan and Xaro Xhoan Daxos
- Do they talk to each other?It is very rare that we see characters of colour talking to each other, Khal Drogo talking to his blood riders briefly and addressing his Khalasar. There is also Irri and Rakharo speaking to each other,
- Do they speak to each other about anything other than white people
Sadly no. POC are hardly ever on screen and when they are they have minor roles and are talking to White character and briefly talking to each other about white characters.
The portrayal of POC in Game of Thrones has been highly problematic, the Dorthaki are shown to be savages that are great at stealing, raping and killing other people or themselves. As the season progress the Dothaki are somewhat humanized, but are used for Danerys white savior storyline fauxminist storyline. IN season 2 when most of Danyers’ khalasar are slaughtered and dragons are kidnapped, she is more concerned about her dragons than ‘her people’.
There is also Salador Saan, a pirate that agrees to provide Stannis with ships with the promise that he gets to bed Queen Cersei Lannister. Then there is Xaro the richest man in Qarth that turns out to be the villain in Danerys storyline.
When it comes to people of colour Game of Thrones is failing badly, as they have erased some of the POC in the books and killed off one that lasted a lot longer in the books. I really do like Game of Thrones, it’s very addicting and 10 episodes are really not enough but when it comes to race it can do a lot better with complex depictions of
New Girl (Season One 2011-2012)
New Girl is about a distraught Jess (Zoey Deschanel) who is forced to move into a new apartment after catching her boyfriend cheating on her. She moves in with three men: Schmidt (Max Greenfield), an oversensitive playboy, Nick (Jake M. Johnson), a bartender going through a tough breakup, and later, Winston (Lamorne Morris), a former basketball player trying to find a new job. With the help of her best friend Cece (Hannah Simone), Jess is trying to get her life back together
Despite my personal dislike for Zoey Deschanel, I enjoy this show. Deschanel is playing the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” type in the show, but it’s played entirely for laughs and instead of the character of Jess being pivotal in making the lives of her three male roommates better, it is the other way around. In fact, in several cases, the three roommates show more MPDG tendencies than Jess. Furthermore, while the show is called “New Girl”, the show focuses on the other characters just as much. In fact, in later episodes, Deschanel gets less screentime when compared to her roommates.
- Is there more than one character of color?
Yes. Morris and Cece are part of the main cast, and Kali Hawk plays Winston’s girlfriend.
- Do these characters ever hold a conversation?
Yes. Cece and Winston interact a lot and Hawk’s character, Shelby, interacts exclusively with Winston.
- Do these characters talk about something other than a white person?
Yes, but it varies episode to episode. Cece and Winston rarely talk about anything other than Jess or Schmidt, but Winston and Shelby talk exclusively about their relationship with each other.
The show actually does a good job when portraying race. Winston, despite being a former basketball player, is not a stereotype at all. He is actually one of the more level-headed characters on the show, as well as one of the most clever. Cece, another main character, however, her heritage is rarely brought up on the show. This is mostly because her race is not the central part of her character. Despite the problems the show has when it comes to gender, it does a good job with race.
Racial Bechdel Is Looking For More Reviewers!
As you can see, posts on here have been lacking recently. It’s only common. Both Ai-yo and I are busy students and we can’t always write up a review for a show, movie, etc… So this is where you come in. If you’re interested in writing for this blog, be sure to email me, Kaxbeokay, at awesome.mediocrity@gmail,com. Be sure to leave a sample of your writing.as part of the email.
Thanks and please continue reading!
The Hunger Games (2012)
The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem, which resides in what used to be North America. Each year, one boy and one girl aged 12 to 18 is selected from each of the twelve districts that rose up against Panem to fight in an annual event where they fight to the death. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to represent her district after her sister (Willow Shields). Together with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss has to figure out a way to survive the games and make her way back home.
The movie was average at best, but I still enjoyed it. I felt that a lot of the meaning was either lost or didn’t translate as well from book to film. While the acting was great, a good chunk of what could’ve been one of the most memorable fight scenes in Hollywood gets lost in shakey-cam. I also feel that a lot of the tricks used in order to make the audience experience what Katniss was going through to be quite cheap.
- Is there more than one character of color?
Yes. Cinna, Rue, and Thresh contribute heavily to the story when they appear.
- At any time do these characters talk to each other?/>
No. Most of this is justified, though, because the audience experiences most of the movie through Katniss’ eyes and she hardly ever sees Rue and Thresh together.
Do these characters talk about anything other than a white character?
Despite The Hunger Games not passing the Racial Bechdel Test, the movie still speaks loads about race relations. District Eleven, the agricultural district, is comprised of Black people mostly to allude back to slavery. However, a lot of this symbolism goes over the heads of most fans of the series, as shown by the tumblr blog Hunger Games Tweets.
Also, a problem that has been made apparent by sites like Racebending is that Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss despite the character being described as having olive-brown skin and dark brown hair. Racebending made it clear that the casting call for the character didn’t extend the invitation to actresses of color.
But in the end, I still found the movie enjoyable. However, I think that this is probably because I was a fan of the books.
Community Returns Tonight
Be sure to catch this Racial Bechdel-Passing show as it returns tonight on NBC, 8/7 Central.
Grimm is a fantasy/mystery/crime drama inspired by the macabre fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, where the creatures from the book really exist. The series centres on homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli) that discovers he is descended from an elite line of demon hunter know as “Grimms,” charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world
Each episode begins with a brief passage from one of the Brother Grimm’s book to give the audience a clue on what the plot will be about. Not all the tales features are exclusively Brothers Grimm; they use other western fairy tales such as Goldilocks and the three bears as well as Aesop’s Fables. I was really interested in the series at first it seems like a really fresh idea, and had many familiar producer and writers names from cult supernatural show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So far with the first season has reached it halfway point it has yet to graduate from the standard “monster of the day” and develop some sort of meta-plot although there a subtle hints at a possible season finale “big bad”. Grimm has poetential, but does it pass the Bechdel test?
- Is there more than one character of colour? Yes. Only two though, Nick’s partner/sidekick is Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby) and who is the Black best friend. The other is Segeant Wu (Reggie Lee) that works closely with Nick and Hank he would the Asian computer wiz. Both of them are unaware of Nick’s double life.
- Do two or more character of colour talk to each other? Yes, when investigating a crime Sergeant Wu and Detective Griffin talk to one and other. Most of the time Nick is part of then conversation
- Do they talk about anything other than a white character? No, and if they did it was very short and went unnoticed. When Detective Griffin and Sergeant Wu are on screen together they usually talk about the case and with most of the episodes the case they are investigating are about white characters. Hank is seen a little bit more of the two being as he is Nick’s police partner and I say police partner because Nick’s true partner/sidekick would be Monroe (Silas Wier Mitchell), a reformed “Wieder Blutbad” that is very knowledge of the supernatural creates that Nick faces as a result Nick confides in him the most. Sergeant Wu is rarely seen outside of the police department and usually does the tech and paper work . As with both characters of colour we know very little about them outside of their police life Grimm. Grim fails the test tremendously being as this is the first season I hope that Grimm can change and take it’s writers to task.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is the story of college professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) who finds an Akita puppy wandering around the train station he uses to commute to and from work. While he intended to find the owner or a new home for the dog, but the family ended up keeping the dog. The dog also grew incredibly attached to the professor and would follow him to work every morning and wait for at the him at the train station every afternoon. Eventually, Wilson dies and Hachi has to go live with Andy Wilson (Sarah Roemer), the professor’s daughter. However, Andy eventually lets Hachi go and he continues to wait in front of the train station in hopes Parker returns.
The movie itself is nothing special, just a cute story for families to enjoy. It was specifically made to draw in its audience. The acting is nothing phenomenal and the directing and editing is nothing incredible. Compared to his previous works, Lasse Hallström hits an all-time low with this movie. It’s nothing more than a slice of American life served up in the form of an animal movie.
- Is there more than one character of color?
Yes. In fact, most of the characters seen working at or around the train station are people of color.
- Do two or more characters of color ever hold a conversation?/>
Yes. Several times throughout the movie. The conversations are usually very short, but they hold a lot of significance.
- Do these characters talk about something other than one of the white characters?
Yes. Most of the conversations in the movie have more to do with the dog than anything else.
So Hachi passes. However, the entire film is problematic and not just for the poor acting, writing, and directing. The film is actually based on the true story of a dog named Hachiko, who was raised in Japan. In fact, most people in Japan already know the story of the dog who waited by the train station every day for its owner to return long after the owner died. There’s even a statue at the train station in question of Hachiko. In other words, the entire movie is a whitewashed retelling.
This is an example of American media erasing bits and pieces of Asian history. Take for instance the movie 21, starring Jim Sturgess. The movie was based on the true story of six MIT students who “cheat the system” of Blackjack by counting cards. The cast was heavily whitewashed despite the students being predominantly Asian. Not only is this kind of whitewashing a form of erasure, but it also prevents Asian American actors from being visible in Hollywood. And although Hachi acknowledges the story’s source, it is not enough to prevent the movie from being a complete bastardization.
My Name Is Earl
My Name is Earl is the titular troublemaker, Earl (Jason Lee), who is trying to put his life back together after winning the lottery and ending up in the hospital shortly afterwards. Learning about karma from the Carson Daily Show, he realizes that all the bad things he has done to other people has had lasting effects on his own life as well. With the help of his brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee), Earl is going to right all the wrongs he did following a compiled list of every bad thing he has ever done. Along the way he helps his ex-wife, Joy Turner (Jaime Pressly), her husband, Darnell Turner (Eddie Steeples), and their friend Catalina (Nadine Velazquez).
The show gained a huge cult following during it’s four seasons. Viewers were attracted to Jason Lee’s earnestness as Earl and to the many one-shot and recurring characters who gave life to Camden County, where the show takes place. Unfortunately for many fans, the show was canceled before it’s fifth season, leaving a very sudden cliffhanger ending that remains unsatisfied to this day.
For purposes of this review, I am only testing the first two seasons.
- Is there more than one character of color?
Yes. There are actually two people of color in the main cast (Steeples and Velazquez), and in the first two seasons we are given several recurring characters of color as well (Iqbal and Nescobar-A-Lop-Lop).
- Do these characters of color talk to each other?
Yes. Several times. Darnell and Catalina hold several conversations in these first two seasons, and Nescobar talks to several characters of color, most of whom are recurring characters.
- Do the characters talk about something other than one of the white characters?
No. While the characters of color do talk to each other a lot, many of the conversations are centered solely around Earl, and if they’re not talking about Earl, they’re talking about Randy or Joy.
My Name is Earl doesn’t pass the Racial Bechdel Test despite having an incredibly diverse cast. However, a diverse cast doesn’t mean that they pass the test, aafter all. And there are some major problems with how some characters of color are represented in the show as well. Darnell, with his high-intelligence and connections to the government comes off less as a clever character, but rather follows the Magical Negro trope. Catalina, on the other hand, plays the stereotypes straight. She is an illegal immigrant and works as a maid. Not even the minor characters are spared. Nescobar is a former Congo citizen and speaks with a thick accent. His character even holds stereotypical “old-world African” traditions.
Despite these stereotypes, I still enjoy the show. The show is very honest and darts between being idealist and being realist without losing sight of what it is really about. And as Earl crosses items off his list, the audience is treated to a lesson about humanity without it being incredibly ham-fisted. In fact, the show is incredibly heartwarming. As Earl works on making up for all the bad things he has done, Camden County goes from a crapsack town full of thieves to a strong, close-knit community.