Film

Writer Hanna Rosin apologises for ‘cruel’ Bechdel Test take on Joel Kim Booster’s Fire Island

Josh Milton June 8, 2022
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Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang in Fire Island

Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang in Fire Island. (Hulu)

American author Hanna Rosin has apologised for a controversial tweet that said Joel Kim Booster’s queer rom-com Fire Island failed the Bechdel test.

The Hulu film sees five queer buddies take a trip to the Fire Island Pines, the New York gay haven, and experience love, hook-ups and, of course, sing karaoke to Britney Spears.

The update on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang was met with favourable reviews – but Rosin was not among them.

In a since-deleted tweet posted Monday (6 June), Rosin, 52, took a swipe against the film’s female representation.

“So @Hulu #FireIslandMovie gets an F- on the Bechdel test in a whole new way,” she wrote. “Do we just ignore the drab lesbian stereotypes [because] cute gay Asian boys?

“Is this revenge for all those years of the gay boy best friend?”

The Bechdel Test, named after lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel, measures how many named women discuss something other than men in films and other media.

Twitter users quickly poked holes at the Are Men Obsolete? author’s take, stressing that the film affords queer Asian men a level of visibility long denied to them.

Among Rosin’s critics was Yang himself. Posting a photo on Instagram of him posing with former adult entertainer Robin Bryd, the 31-year-old former Saturday Night Live host wrote: “F- on the Bechdel test.”

 

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A post shared by Bowen Yang (@fayedunaway)

While gay singer Simon Curtis gave Rosin a reality check over her “egregiously cruel” comment.

“How do you think a gay Asian ‘boy’ in the US feels having literally never EVER seen themselves in a movie?” Curtis tweeted.

“Are you really that self-absorbed, so unable to step outside of yourself for one moment, that you can’t see that maybe it’s not *supposed* to be about you?”

Bechdel herself even joined in, clarifying that the film very much does pass her name-sake test. She referenced a Fire Island scene in which Noah (Booster) and Will (Conrad Ricamura) chat about their favourite Alice Munro short stories.

“OK, I just added a corollary to the Bechdel test,” she tweeted. “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.”

Other users, however, did what Twitter does best – turn literally anything into a joke.

Amid the backlash, Rosin deleted the “careless” and “offensive” tweet and stressed that she has a “lot to learn”.

“I deleted a tweet that many of you rightly pointed out was offensive,” she said in a Tuesday post alongside a screenshot of the now-infamous tweet.

“I’ve read your responses and I hear you. My tweet was careless and thoughtless.

“Truly. The movie was telling a story about queer AAPI [Asian American Pacific Islander] men, whose experiences don’t show up enough in movies or anywhere else.

Rosin added: “What I had to say was beside the point, not to mention a buzzkill on a fun summer movie. 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 apologise to those who were hurt by my words.”

 

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