The Bechdel Test is a feminist assessment of films, named after the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, to see if content contains more than two women, with names, who speak to each other about something other than a man. This test has generally been used to point out gender imbalance in Hollywood, since many films are notorious for ignoring race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity.
This weekend, New York Times film critic, Manohla Dargis, created the racially aware version of this test and named it, “The DuVernay Test,” in honor of filmmaker Ava DuVernay. This will be a test used to gauge films based on “African-Americans and other minorities with fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories.” This method aims to gauge whether or not films represent minority groups realistically.
“The DuVernay Test” has been fully embraced by Ava herself, as she joyously expressed on her Facebook page:
“Whoa. How wonderful if the idea of pushing more characters of color out of the boxes and the margins and the periphery catches on, and we all strive to give them blood in their veins and family histories and independent ideas and beating hearts like real human beings. It’s harder to get those stories through than you’d think. But worth trying every day.” – Ava DuVernay
People have outwardly voiced their distaste for decades about the stereotypical roles commonly given to minorities in films. “The DuVernay Test” is certainly a step in the right direction. It will challenge the notion of what content creators “believe” to be true about specific minority groups, and force them to look outside of their own individual experiences to capture the true essence of each group. “The DuVernay Test” will undoubtedly be used for many years to come as a way to describe the true diverse nature of characters in films, and is a great way to push the industry towards developing non-white, multi dimensional characters with layers.