A debate has been sparked on Twitter over whether it is appropriate to apply the Bechdel test to certain movies—in this case, Hulu’s Fire Island.
Writer Hanna Rosin has angered a number of movie buffs on Twitter Tuesday for her remarks about female representation in the new movie, which is a gay rom-com about the famous gay village off Long Island in New York.
The synopsis for the feel-good film reads: “A pair of best friends set out to have a legendary week-long summer vacation with the help of cheap rosé and a group of eclectic friends.”
It is a modern, queer rewrite of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Bowen Yang as the lead alongside Conrad Ricamora, Matt Rogers, Tomas Matos and Torian Miller. Margaret Cho also plays a housemother on the vacation.
“So @hulu #FireIslandMovie gets an F- on the Bechdel test in a whole new way,” Hanna Rosin, tweeted on June 6. “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?”
The Bechdel test aims to measure of the representation of women in fiction. It asks whether a work of art features 1/ at least two women 2/ who talk to each other 3/ about something other than a man.
The guidelines were created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 and offered a way to gauge the agency of women in a film or television series, for example.
But can it be applied to every film? Especially one that features gay Asian leads, which some would say constitutes a rare example of representation in itself.
Rosin, who co-hosts the NPR Invisibilia podcast, is receiving backlash for her tweet, with many commentators criticizing her for asking why women are not the main focus of a movie about gay, Asian men.
“How come this film about Asian gay men (a group never centered in a mainstream movie before) is not also about MEEEE?!?” reads one disparaging response.
While another added: “Geez Louise, let the cute Asian guys have their ONE movie.”
Another commentator added: “you don’t have to tweet everything you think. you can instead think about the ways in which you center yourself in situations because you feel entitlement and examine how you can become a better person.”
“Bechdelete this tweet,” replied writer Marisa Kabas.
“Hanna this is tiresome because it’s not a good faith application of the Bechdel test, or rather, FI fails rather intentionally,” tweeted actor and producer Emerson Collins. “You know that, so it feels like this is mostly for the reaction, because surely you’re aware that gay Asian men are rarely/never centered this way.”
Speaking to Newsweek about Fire Island, lead Bowen Yang said: “It’s a modern retelling that also shifts the focus onto something that I think everyone can relate to—everyone has that sense of choosing people to spend time with.”