Vito Russo Test in Storytelling

Vito Russo Test in Storytelling

Inspired by the Bechdel test, the Vito Russo test was introduced by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in 2013. It is named after the famous American LGBTQ activist Vito Russo, famous for co-founding GLAAD and writing The Celluloid Closet.

Understanding Vito Russo Test

Let us understand what the Vito Russo test is and the changes it has led to:

What is the Purpose of this Test?

This test aims to enforce more LGBTQ representation in any storytelling, particularly in movies where they are severely underrepresented, e.g., in cyberpink films. Every year, they release a list of the stories that passed their test. The ones who passed this test have ensured adequate representation of LGBTQ characters in the story.

How does the Vito Russo Test Work?

The Vito Russo test consists of three conditions that any film should meet to pass this test. Those conditions are as follows:

  • The must contain a character that can be identified as a member of the LGBTQ community.
  • The character should not be predominantly defined by its sexual orientation and must be portrayed normally as any straight or non-transgender character.
  • The character should not be insignificant, i.e., they should be important to the plot. In a way, their removal should impact the story significantly.

Benefits of Vito Russo Test

Below we have discussed some of the benefits of the Vito Russo test:

  1. Source of Guidance for Future Movies

Even if the intention is good, it may be hard for films to portray LGBTQ in a way that appropriate. In the attempt to do so, they may end up harming the movement more than benefiting it. The Vito Russo test will act as a source of guidance for filmmakers to make better movies that help in normalizing and accepting LGBTQ people in society.

  1. It may help Fight Bigotry and Homophobia.

Elements of bigotry and homophobia are widespread in our society and even in our entertainment industry. However, those elements harm without being detected. The Vito Russo, if it gets widely accepted, will help expose the inner bigotry and homophobia of many people in the industry. Through this, people will get to realize movies of which directors, producers, and actors are worth watching and which are not.

  1. It Will Enforce LGBTQ Inclusion in Movies

There are a lot of recurring themes in films where straight males always have the spotlight. It includes war movies, action movies, and many more. If the Vito Russo test becomes a focal point for deciding which movies should be accepted and which should not, it will certainly compel movies with these themes to enforce diversity and inclusion too. After all, even the LGBTQ community can be fans of such themes.

With more and more people learning about the suffering of the LGBTQ community in the US, the Vito Russo test will gain more popularity. Sooner or later, we may see it as the main point of reference for genres in Hollywood and beyond, e.g., horror, thrillers, sci-fi, cyberpink, historical, etc.