Karine Jean-Pierre
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Do Queer Films Like Fire Island Need to Pass the Bechdel Test? 

Erin (Margaret Cho), Keegan (Tomás Matos), Howie (Bowen Yang), Noah (Joel Kim Booster), and Luke (Matt Rogers), shown

A firestorm is brewing on Twitter over the new and widely beloved queer rom-com Fire Island. The film, which is inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, follows a group of gay Asian friends who gather for what could be their last annual week of love and laughter together on the titular isle. It features the likes of Joel Kim Booster, Bowen Yang, and Margaret Cho, and is being hailed for centering queer Asian individuals — but, as it turns out, not by everyone.

A surprising criticism was leveled at the groundbreaking film by New York Magazine's Hanna Rosin. “So @hulu #FireIslandMovie gets an F- on the Bechdel test in a whole new way. Do we just ignore the drab lesbian stereotypes bc cute gay Asian boys? Is this revenge for all those years of the gay boy best friend?” she recently tweeted.

For those unfamiliar with the Bechdel-Wallace test (the author’s preferred name), it began as a joke in Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For as criticism for male-dominated films and the lack of female representation in mainstream cinema. To pass the test, a film must meet the following criteria as outlined in the comic: It must have at least two women in it, and they must talk with each other about something besides a man.

Fire Island doesn’t meet those requirements, but that raises the question: Should it really have to? Is applying this metric to a film that focuses on the experiences of a marginalized group like queer Asians even fair, or is this “call out” an example of peak white feminism? Twitter’s had some thoughts. 

Fire Island star Cho also weighed in on the debate, specifically taking issue with Rosin’s description of her character being “the drab lesbian stereotype.”

Update:
It appears that the debate has ended as Bechdel herself has weighed in and declared Fire Island offically passes thet test.


 

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