Alison Bechdel Officially Gives 'Fire Island' a Pass Amid Uproar

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday June 11, 2022
Originally published on June 8, 2022

Joel Kim Booster, left, and Bowen Yang, right, in a scene from "Fire Island."
Joel Kim Booster, left, and Bowen Yang, right, in a scene from "Fire Island."  (Source:Photo by Jeong Park/Searchlight)

The cartoonist Alison Bechdel has spoken and the film "Fire Island" has passed the Bechdel Test with flying rainbow colors, reported IndieWire.

After a tweet from New York Magazine podcaster Hannah Rosin sparked a Twitter debate on June 7 about gender representation, Alison Bechdel is stepping into the social media storm to say her piece.

If you haven't been following, Rosin tweeted that "Fire Island" gets an "F- on the Bechdel test in a whole new way." Her qualms were mainly that the film lacks female characters, other than Margaret Cho playing a "drab" mother figure in this reimagining of Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice."

The Bechdel Test has become a formal "set of criteria used as a test to evaluate a work of fiction, such as a film, on the basis of its inclusion and representation of female characters." Films must have at least two female characters, interacting with each other, and talking about something other than men.

As much as the test has become a way to seriously examine the treatment of female characters in film, it actually began as a joke in Bechdel's 1985 comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For."

To Rosin's tweet, some pointed out that it was offensive. Even Cho jumped in to correct Rosin's characterization of her, writing, "I didn't realize I was drab. I don't identify as drab. Bitch I'm fab!"

Hearing everyone's problems with her assessment of the film, Rosin promptly responded with an apology for it all.

"What I had to say was beside the point, not to mention a buzzkill on a fun summer movie," wrote Rosin. "It's a cliche but the fact that I didn't see it coming means I have a lot to learn. The last thing I want to do is pit members of my community against each other. I sincerely apologize to those who were hurt by my words."

Other social media users added that the actual Bechdel Test was not a serious test to begin with.

But it was Bechdel who got the last word in and settled the debate once and for all, tweeting: "Okay, I just added a corollary to the Bechdel Test: Two men talking to each other about the female protagonist of an Alice Munro story in a screenplay structured on a Jane Austen novel = pass. #FireIsland #BechdelTest."

The cartoonist's clever tweet was then celebrated by the official "Fire Island" Twitter account with a celebratory "WE PASSED!!"

Whew! All is now right in the world, and we can get back to watching "Fire Island" on Hulu, available for streaming now.