Bias tags indicate that the media object fails to pass a set of conditions or rules about its content. The rules vary in complexity from simple counting, such as “does this movie feature more than one female character” to more nuanced and subjective tests, like “does this movie feature BIPOC characters that have fully-realized lives.” Some rules can be computed by machine by inspecting the lead-character- fields, and some can only be argued about over time.
Bias tags are composed of two parts. The primary tag denotes the type of bias (e.g. T for tokenism). The secondary tag denotes the group(s) that the bias targets (e.g. B for Black). For example, the tokenization of a Black character would be tagged as “TB.” Not all bias tags will include secondary tags.
Bias is tagged based on the mmrl team’s consensus on the quality of representation in a given media object. However, because consensus cannot always be reached, the asterisk character (*) will be appended to a code to indicate that the score given is subjective and opinions can and do exist to the contrary.
For tags that capture wider audience response, see Reception Tags.
Ableism. While ableism takes many forms, this tag denotes one or more of the following scenarios:
1) A character with a disability is played by an actor who does not share that disability. In the case of visible disabilities, make-up or special effects may be used to simulate the disability.
2) A character is depicted as villainous because of their disability.
3) Disabled characters have dream or fantasy sequences where they “lose” their disabilities, or otherwise idealize being or becoming non-disabled.
Fails Bechdel Test. If the media property does not (1) have two or more female cast-leads that (2) talk to each other about (3) something other than the male character or characters. Further reading.
Colorism. This tag denotes one or more of the following scenarios:
1) Either there are no dark-skinned actors, or the characters played by dark-skinned actors are not given meaningful storylines.
2) The lead women of color characters are played by light-skinned actors.
3) For adaptations and remakes: A character who is dark-skinned in the source or original or antecedent material is played by a light-skinned actor in the adaptation or remake.
4) Antagonists are played by dark-skinned actors, while protagonists are played by light-skinned actors.
Fails DuVernay Test. If the media property has no cast-leads with ethnicities values other than “white” that have fully-realized lives. Instead, these cast-leads either don’t exist, or if a BIPOC cast-lead exists, it serves as scenery in white stories.
Ethnic Impersonation. If the media property has actors of one ethnicity playing characters of another ethnicity. This includes offensive practices such as blackface, yellowface, etc. This does not refer to colorblind and race-conscious casting practices in which actors of color play historically white roles.
Heavily Fetishizes or Sexualizes BIPOC Women and Girls. If the media property has BIPOC female characters, but presents them as objects of a sexualized gaze, particularly in racialized ways.
Queer Impersonation. If the media property has actors of one gender playing characters of another gender, or actors of one sexual identity playing characters of another sexual identity. This mostly refers to straight actors playing queer characters or cis actors playing trans characters. This does not refer to queer actors playing straight characters, trans actors playing cis characters, drag performers, or characters in disguise.
Stereotyping of Minority or Female Character. If the media property has minority or female characters, but their portrayals simply conform to both negative and positive stereotypes.
Tokenized Minority Character. If the media property has minority characters, but their presence serves only to create a general impression of diversity. These characters may appear as sidekicks to the main characters, but do not have fully-realized lives or a substantial storyline of their own.
Victim or Perpetrator of Violence. If the media property has minority characters, but they appear only to further violent storylines.
White Only. If the media property has no cast-leads with ethnicities values other than “white.”
Young. If the media property has no female cast-leads with age values “50-59” or above or if the media property has actors under age 50 playing characters “50-59” or above.
Contested. If one of the rulesets above has a variety of opinions and can not be definitively determined, e.g. S*.
Women and femmes
Men and masc
Nonbinary, intersex and other non-cisgender