First, there was the Bechdel Test, a feminist assessment of films to see if they have more than two women, with names, who speak to each other about something other than a man.
While this test has been a great tool to point out the gender imbalance in Hollywood, it’s often been critiqued for not being intersectional, ignoring race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity.
But now thanks to The New York Times, there is a new more robust lens to view films through and question their relevancy in this #OscarsSoWhite era.
Enter the “The DuVernay Test,” coined after the award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, which asks if films have “African-Americans and other minorities [with] fully realized lives rather than serve as scenery in white stories.”
Looking at the success of several movies coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, including Nate Parker’sBirth Of A Nation, NY Times’ famed film critic Manohla Dargis hopes that a tide is turning when it comes to the way the real world is portrayed in films.
Obviously, DuVernay was honored and shocked:
Wow. Floored. What a lovely cinematic idea to embrace. What a thrill to be associated with it. Absolutely wonderful. https://t.co/zjoWBBIKVy
“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. XO.”
Folks are most definitely embracing this term (myself included):
While the #OscarsSoWhite has been mostly defined as the lack of actors of color nominated for Academy Awards, it’s important to recognize that the diversity issue in Hollywood isn’t just about the people in front of the camera, but behind it as well. We need to push hard too for all talent, including directors, screenwriters and producers, in order to make real change.
Here’s to hoping this new term sticks because we are more than just the sidekick. We all deserve to be front and center, and not just on the margins.