Bull Durham is a classic baseball film directed by Rom Shelton in 1988. In this movie, “Crash” Davis is the protagonist, and is sent down to advanced A-ball to help mentor a new young prospect with a lot of potential. This prospect’s name is Ebby LaLoosh, and is as stubborn as the worst of us. The entire movie take place in one summer, which highlights the relationship between Crash and Ebby and the progress he makes as a ball player, but also the progress they both make off the field with the prospective “cleat chasers”.
The Representation Test is designed to test a movies ability to touch a broad spectrum of cultures and races. When I put Bull Durham up against this test, it does not fair well with a solid score of a D. The test is broken up into six different categories; Women, Men, Race, Ethnicity, and Culture, LGBT People, People with Disabilities, and Bonus Points.
In the Women portion of this test, Bull Durham scored zero points. This is not honestly a surprise considering that this was filmed back in 1988, and takes place in about that point in time. Women did not star in that many movies back then, and even more so, there was not a woman to date that had starred in a sports related movie. And if there had not been a white woman who had starred up to that point, the idea of a woman of color starring is ludicrous. In fact, the only roles that black woman played in this film are purely as background characters, there was not one meaningful line said by a woman of color. In one of the opening scenes of the movie, Ebby is having sex with Millie, the manager’s daughter. The film is also quick to point out that Annie picks a different ball player every summer to sleep with. Within the first 5 minutes of the film, women are already objectified as “objects for the male gaze”. For the entire duration of the film, the lives of the women completely revolve around the men’s agenda. The protagonist in the film is a male, but there is a strong female role played by Susan Sarandon. Even though the film did not receive a point for this, she is around the age of 45 and many may consider this one a judgment call on whether or not it deserves a point. The last question in this section includes, “does it pass the Bechdel Test?” This test features two or more women, who must talk about something other than a male character. And once again, this movie fails the test. Because the women’s lives are centered on the male characters in the film, all they talk about with each other is other males. Although this one may be a judgment call as well, seeing as they do talk a lot about baseball. Some would argue that baseball is played by a group of men, so they are still talking about the male gender, but some would say that baseball is a game, and it doesn’t matter who is playing it.
Next up on the test is the Male section. Bull Durham did manage to scrape up one point from this category. This point was from “Does the film avoid perpetuating and extreme and unhealthy body ideal for men?” Because the main characters in the movie are all professional baseball players, they make a living on how well in shape they are. It is no surprise that all of the males in the film are in great shape. There are only a few scenes in this film in which they show angry baseball players throwing equipment and cursing through the air. These few scenes, though they may seem minor, give off the perception that is this okay to do. Another judgment call on this one, but in my opinion I think that the little kids who see this violence occur will feel inclined to imitate them. And because this movie has done so well in the box office, the citizens who have seen it obviously have no issue with it.
The film does avoid celebrating “offensive racial, ethnic, and cultural stereotypes.” There are small amounts of praying and references to the Christianity religion, but no stereotypes occur in which are offensive to any culture. And because of this, Bull Durham gains another point from this section of the test.
The next section focuses on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender roles within a movie. There are no characters in the film that fit this description and the movie does not gain a point from this section.
There are also no characters in this film with any sort of disability. Once again the protagonist is a professional baseball players and heavily relies on his body to make a living. No points are received from this section as well.
As for the last section, a white male directs the movie, whom is straight, and does not have any sort of disabilities. Because this does not fit any of the bonus questions, no points are received.
I believe that this film does not get a fair rating from The Representation Test. A D seems a little low for such a classic of a movie. A lot of these questions came down to personal opinion, such as “does the film avoid glorifying violent men.” If the text could manage to be more specific, then I believe that this scoring system would be more effective.