The Representation Test grades movies based upon how well they represent a diverse culture of people, claiming to help Hollywood change its limiting culture and challenge the status quo. Giving points for representing people without using stereotypes, the test hopes to create cultural change. However, it fails to see past issues of race, feminism, and acceptance of other views. It limits the way a film can affect a culture and present a message by forcing films to water down a product by including others. The Hunt for Red October is a powerful film that was well received by critics, receiving a 96% rating from critics on rottentomatoes.com. It provides a strong message about the goodness of humanity and not judging people just by their nationality or stereotypes. By putting The Hunt for Red October through the Representation Test, I will prove that the test is not effective at showing the cultural impact of a film because it fails to see past race, feminism, and acceptance of other views.
The first category of the Representation Test is women. When viewing the cast of The Hunt for Red October on Wikipedia.com, there is only one woman on the list. She is not over the age of forty five, not a woman of color, and has a trim fit body. In fact, she is barely in the movie at all, playing the wife of CIA analyst Jack Ryan. The name Cathy Ryan does not even come up in the plot description featured by the movies website. As essentially the only woman in the film, she does not pass the Bechdel. The only point women receive in the movie is for not being represented as “objects for the male gaze.” However, as I watch the movie, I don’t even notice that there is a lack of women, because quite frankly, they would detract from the film. Where would they be in this film? They could not operate as part of the submarine crew or as one of the high ranking government officials in the cold war time period. My opposition to women in this film is not sexist but practical. I don’t want to see a film’s product watered down by going out of the way to include strong women. It would not make sense to include this in an accurate portrayal of the cold war.
The second category of The Hunt for the Red October is men. This is the only other category that the film scores points. Red October receives points for not glorifying violent men and for not perpetuating an unhealthy body ideal for men. It also receives points for having men of color in non-stereotypical roles. I gave the film a little slack for the not glorifying violent men category. The main character of the movie, Marko Ramius, murders his first mate because he knows of the true mission of the submarine. However, Ramius defects from the soviet side to avoid further violence so I gave the film a point for not glorifying violence in men. However, the film portrays a very stereotypical view of Russians by showing them in big fur coats and hats in the cold. Even the way they conduct their military is stereotypical. While this view is stereotypical, it is accurate for cold war era Russia. I don’t think a film should be attacked for showing a stereotype, especially if it is accurate. This adds to the authenticity of the film, and there is no reason to water down a historically accurate portrayal so that people don’t have their feelings hurt. This detracts from the potency of the film.
The third and fourth categories of the Representation Test are LGBT people and people with disabilities. The Hunt for Red October did not receive a single point in either of these two categories. In the cold war, there would not have been any openly LGBT in a high ranking government office, and there definitely would not have been any in a submarine crew. It is unlikely that a person with disabilities would have been in either of these positions. Although I admit that it would have been possible for them to have been in the government office, but there is no way that they could have served in the military as they would not have passed the physical test. Again my question is this: why should a movie go out of its way to include people if it might detract from the story line?
In the test, a film can receive bonus points if it is written or directed by a woman, person of color, LGBT person, or a person with disabilities. However, I don’t understand what is wrong with a film written or directed by a straight, white male. It seems like the test is discriminating against straight, white males, and punishing films for using their material. The Hunt for Red October did not receive any bonus points.
I support the equality of all people. Growing up, several of my best friends have been people of color, and I have several family members that are gay, but it doesn’t make sense that a movie should water down its product just to include people so others are not upset. This movement of inclusion has gone so far as to say that a film directed or written by a white male is not as good those done by women, people of color, or LGBT people. The Hunt for Red October received a “C” on the Representation test with only 4 points. I give the film five slurpees for giving the message of doing what is right even when others are against you. However, I give the Representation Test only one slurpee. It forces films to water down their product to include others even when it doesn’t make sense. Let’s focus on the quality of a movie and the message it gives, not punish it for its failure to unnecessarily include people.