Saad’s wrote a great post on episode eight. As I was reading the post, I did not think I could respond because I agreed with all of the main points and especially liked the tie in of the infamous Marc Jacobs ad. Saad writes, “Drag is a theatrical, bold, and over-the-top way to express the idea that a biological male can play the part of a female just as well, if not better, than a biological woman. And in my personal opinion, this would be more effectively portrayed on Drag Race if the contestants were not referred to by their drag names when not performing.” This is a completely valid point to prove some males can emulate femininity better than many women. My concern with this change in the show is that I believe this shift would reinforce gender norms rather than deconstruct them. By separating the male name and the stage drag name creates a clear distinction between the normal, everyday male person against the feminine drag queen that only is only an act when onstage. It ultimately reinforces the rigid ideals of gender rather than choosing one identity that can encompass multiple aspects of different gender stereotypes. I view the calling contestants by their stage names at all times helps muddle the lines of gender labels: male vs. female vs. drag queen. Society teaches us to assign gender and sexuality to people: the main two being heterosexual males and females. Gay males are becoming more visible in media; however, heterosexual males and females are the hegemonic narrative that makes up the norm. Therefore, this toying between “male” and “female” appearances on the show creates panic, as the contestant’s appearances do not follow gender norms. Lynne Joyrich’s “Epistemology of the Console” credits television as a major source of knowledge in building gender and sexual norms and stereotypes. Although Drag Race is on a very niche channel rather than a major network, having the images that skew the norms of gender available to television viewers provides new knowledge that was not readily available before. Hopefully the lack of defined gender (compared to most television) spreads the thought process that defies gender labels and gender roles.
I really enjoyed Saad’s connections to consumerism and the different means of targeting audiences based off of gender and sexuality (and their stereotypes). The challenge of creating a drag queen targeted perfume results in very comical, campy, over-the-top performances from the contestants. In Larry Gross’ “The Mediated Society” he equates being advertised to in society to being socially important part of society. What is troubling is that this challenge is viewed as a hypothetical task because drag queens are not a typical target group for advertisers. I am stumped when I try to think of any advertisements aimed at drag queens (The only memory I have is Drag Race and a movie titled Killer Drag Queens on Dope we would snicker at when Blockbuster was still around). Are they not valid consumers worth of being advertised to? He writes, “In the absence of adequate information in their immediate environment, most people—gay or straight—have little choice but to accept the media stereotypes they imagine must be typical of all lesbians and gay men” (Gross 16). The lack of drag queen representations in the media leaves little knowledge to be absorbed by the public. Their lack of presence in advertising also speaks to their low importance in society as consumers in the eyes of mainstream media.