Alison Bechdel has spoken. The cartoonist has weighed in on a debate sparked by a rogue tweet from New York magazine audio editorial director Hanna Rosin who criticized the gay Hulu rom-com Fire Island for failing the Bechdel test — a litmus test that rates movies on whether they feature at least two female characters talking to each other about something other than a man.
“Okay, I just added a corollary to the Bechdel test,” Bechdel began her tweet. “Two men talk to each other about the female protagonist of a Alice Munro story in a screenplay structured on a Jane Austen novel = pass.
Bechdel felt the need to update her unscientific test afterward Fire Island been trending for nearly two days, seemingly in response to Rosin giving the film an “F-” on the Bechdel test. “So @hulu #FireIslandMovie gets an F on the Bechdel test in a brand new way,” Rosin wrote in a since-deleted tweet. Are we just ignoring the boring lesbian stereotypes of cute gay Asian guys? Is this revenge for all those years of the gay boy’s best friend?”
Rosin’s tweet immediately caused a storm of roasts and memes on the social media platform, as users disagreed with both her application of the Bechdel test to explicitly criticize a movie about gay male romance — groundbreaking in its own right — and her use of the term “cute gay Asian guys.” ‘ to seemingly many of the film’s stars, including bowenyang, Conrad Ricamora, and Joel Kim Booster. “I had a conversation with myself and failed the bechdel test :(,” tweeted New York magazine senior writer E. Alex Jung.
After deleting the tweet, Rosin apologized with a screenshot of her original complaint. “I deleted a tweet that many of you rightly pointed out as offensive,” Rosin wrote in a three-tweet thread. “I’ve read your comments and I hear you. My tweet was careless and thoughtless. Really. The film told a story about queer AAPI men, whose experiences are not reflected enough in movies or elsewhere.” She went on to write, “What I had to say was irrelevant, not to mention a buzzkill in a fun summer movie. It’s a cliché, but the fact that I didn’t see it coming means I still have a lot to learn.”
Bechdel – who is not a social scientist, but a cartoonist whose graphic memoir about intergenerational queerness, nice house, was adapted into a Tony-winning musical — effectively ending the discourse with her tweet. So all you need now to pass the Bechdel test is a movie where two women talk about something other than a man or two men fiercely debate the content of a Nobel Prize-winning female author in a screenplay based on a Jane novel. austen. Seems easy enough.