In order to quantify its metric, GLAAD introduced the Vito Russo test, patterned after the Bechdel Test and named for the author of the seminal work on Hollywood queer representation, The Celluloid Closet.
The Vito Russo test breaks down effective or complex queer representation into three components. The film must have:
* A character who is “identifiably” gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
* Who is not “solely or predominantly defined” by their sexual or gender identity—that is, it’s not the only thing you know about them
*Whose presence actually has a purpose within the plot of the story.
Applying the Vito Russo Test to the number of films released gives an even bleaker picture of the state of GLBTQ representation in Hollywood, as the majority of the films which included queer or genderqueer representation only featured characters for a few seconds, and often purely as the brunt of a gay joke, a source of “gay panic,” or other offensive humor.
Still, there were some bright spots, notably Lionsgate’s Peeples, which presented a positive queer relationship to a predominantly African-American viewership, and Sony’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which introduced a fandom favorite in the queer romance of Magnus/Alec, which will hopefully get more screentime as the series continues.
Bad news for queer & genderqueer fans of cinema: Hollywood doesn’t love you back.
When I first read the script, I thought, that’s the part to be, always wry and sardonic… I feel like a lot of the time Leia’s either worried or pissed or, thank God, sort of snarky.”
“I had a lot of fun killing Jabba the Hutt,” she added. “They asked me on the day if I wanted to have a stunt double kill Jabba. No! That’s the best time I ever had as an actor. And the only reason to go into acting is if you can kill a giant monster.
The Telegraph gives her the inaccurate but far more positive rating of “the most (the first?) complex female role in the Avengers franchise to date.”
Apparently he failed to notice Pepper Potts (40-year-old tech company CEO), the four central female characters of the Thor movies, Peggy Carter (World War II intelligence agent), Maria Hill (deputy director of an international spy agency), and half the main cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Like Jennifer Connelly in The Hulk, Olson is merely The Woman Who Cries, her face acting as a register for audience emotion. Despite Olsen’s clear skill at conveying shock and horror (what one might call “actual acting”), Godzilla never gets around to suggesting that she’s more than a narrative prop, a footnote in the story of some boring white guy.
But even when women are allowed to save the world, they’re still something of a side character and a curiosity, rather than an actual lead. Rinko Kikuchi became an audience favorite for her role in Pacific Rim as the tortured Mako Mori, a brilliant trainee fighting personal demons. The character’s inner turmoil, as seen in flashback, offers the film’s most powerful scenes, as she struggles with the memory of losing her family. There’s no reason that she (or Idris Elba’s Stacker) shouldn’t be the center of the film, except that this isn’t the way things work.
Fans often characterize TV showrunners as all-powerful beings with complete creative control over their work. The truth is that not everything is a creative decision. Making progressive entertainment has always been an uphill struggle, particularly on TV where everything has to be vetted by a foodchain of network representatives and advertisers before it makes it to the small screen. Fuller is one of the few prominent writers and directors in Hollywood who goes out of his way to talk about discrimination in popular media, at the risk of damaging his career. When he’s not outing his characters on Twitter, he’s doing interviews where he talks about his dream of directing a Star Trek series starring “Captain Angela Bassett and First Officer Rosario Dawson.”
As someone who has presumably had to make compromises to get where he is in Hollywood, is Bryan Fuller perfect? Obviously not. But you can be sure that when you see instances of LGBT characters and gay subtext in his shows, it isn’t “queerbaiting.” Unlike the many shows that play with no-homo humor but have no real investment in portraying LGBT characters in a positive light, we know that Hannibal was created by someone who is well aware of the obstacles people face when trying to introduce more diverse representation on mainstream TV.
There are people out there who actually believe it is their job, as professionals, to inform you when someone else has a sub-par face. As if the world needs face police.
Arguing that other people should look and age the way you want them to is not going to spare little girls the social pressures that lead to plastic surgery. It is, however, going to show them a woman—usually a capable, successfully one—once again being judged on the basis of her physical appearance.
It also isn’t your face. It’s hers.
Her face is not your bitch.