The Bechdel Test has become a measure of representation (specifically representation of women) in film in recent years. The test, named for its creator, Alison Bechdel, consists of three criteria for a film: It has to have at least two [named] women in it; these women must talk to each other; and their conversation(s) must be about something besides a man. After writer and podcast host Hanna Rosin watched the new Hulu film Fire Island, she tweeted that the film, which consists of a mostly gay, male Asian cast, should receive “an F- on the Bechdel Test in a whole new way.”
Rosin, a white woman, and her tweet, are being received in much the same way that the critical review of Turning Red, written by a white man, Sean O’Donnell, was received. O’Donnell wrote that the movie about an “Asian community in Toronto” is “a tad limiting in its scope.” Rosin’s tweet, which may very well be true in that the majority of the cast is male, is inviting similar backlash, with fans who are criticizing Rosin’s take for being centered on women, when it’s rare to see films centered on gay Asian men at all.
“For the love… just let the gay Asian men have their moment,” one user wrote. Another took sharper aim at Rosin, sarcastically writing, “How come this film about Asian gay men (a group never centered in a mainstream movie before) is not also about MEEEE?!?”
Others criticized Rosin, who founded Slate’s women’s section, Double X, and hosts the NPR podcast Invisibilia, for taking the Bechdel Test out of context, applying it in a way that Bechdel might not even agree with.
As of now Rosin has not responded to clarify her tweet. The film’s screenwriter, Joel Kim Booster, responded indirectly to it to simply write, “I picked a hilarious day to log back on.” Though he didn’t address the criticism of the film, the comments from other users in response to his tweet take care of that.
Fire Island is currently streaming on Hulu.