DRAG PERFORMANCE, TALK SHOW, AND IDENTITY

In response to Sam’s post, “Draggle Rock,” (Episode 503) there are several good points made with evidence from our class readings. However, being that we have dived into numerous texts since the third week of the semester, there are other ideas that arise from this episode with more recent readings. I found this episode particularly interesting because it’s centered around the idea of childhood. In the mini-challenge, the queens created their own “Miss Junior Drag Superstar.” Here, they didn’t transform themselves, but a blank mannequin in which they almost appeared as parents or even ‘pageant moms.” They were free of make-up, wigs, dresses, and heels (essentially drag), yet they’re still performing and communicating this queer parent figure through their body language and dialogue. This reminds me of Bennett’s text, “In Defense of Gaydar” because there are still queer indicators within the performance of the challenge. Bennett discusses the idea of ‘gaydar’ and subtle queer codes that are applied to certain television shows to reveal that someone is gay. This mini-challenge may not necessarily relate to ‘gaydar,’ but it still communicates queer codes of drag or performance through their dialogue and mannerisms despite the absence of tangible articles that are fundamental elements for drag.

rupauls drag race

During the mini-challenge, Coco and Alyssa still express negative and hostile feelings towards each other, but Alyssa states, “Every side has two stories.” In Untucked, we see the queens divided into two groups and both are hearing one side of the story, one from Alyssa and the other from Coco. Shortly after, both groups join together to fully discuss the feud between these two and have them share each side of their story to everyone.  This reminded me of Gamson’s reading, “Truths Told in Lies” because the environment appeared similar to a television talk show. Gamson states, “The talk shows are there to stop the lying, encourage and facilitate – one might even say enforce – the telling of truths” (Gamson 70). Alyssa and Coco are the two individuals discussing their own “truths” openly as the others become the moderators of the issue. The other queens also appear as the audience in this ‘mini talk show’ as they listen and respond to the stories. Gamson also discusses essential ingredients to a talk show such as emotions and conflict. He states, “How much confrontation can this person provide me? The more confrontation, the better” (Gamson 76). Alyssa and Coco’s feud has become a spectacle in the show when they’re in and out of drag, but in this episode of Untucked, they had the opportunity to reveal their own truths in a “drag queen talk show” style.

The idea of stereotypes can also be seen in Untucked when Monica Beverly Hillz discusses her performance and how others perceive her. Being that she is an individual from New York and a Latin American background, common stereotypes that most people would give her include ‘ghetto’ and ‘loud.’ She states, “The judges want me to be ghetto…but I’m so sick of hearing that. You know I don’t always want to be that for the rest of my life. I’m trying to start off fresh and new.” Although these drag queens may come from different backgrounds, there are feelings that stereotypes still exist within the show. I feel that her performance during the main challenge and the lip-synch battle were both terrible because Monica wasn’t bringing the energy or passion, not the “ghetto” qualities. This reminds me of Larry Gross’ text, “The Mediated Society, because Monica was born into her racial and even geographical category that shapes her identity and the manner in which others perceive her. On the other hand, being that she revels herself as a transgender female, her identity is not completely whole as she is still learning about herself. Gross states, “Sexual minorities differ in important ways from the “traditional” racial and ethnic minorities; in many ways we are more like ‘fringe’ political or religious groups. Like other social groups defined by forbidden thoughts or deeds, we are rarely born into minority communities in which parents or siblings share our minority status. Rather, lesbians and gay men are a self-identified minority and generally only recognize or announce our status at adolescence, or later (Gross 13). Thus, Monica was born into an identity, yet she’s still discovering who she is through drag and her public disclosure that she is a transgender woman. Shortly after she’s disqualified, RuPaul closes the episode saying, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else.” As a result, Monica still needs to love herself for who she really is, despite how others may view her, in order truly accept herself.

monica-beverly-hillz-crying

-Rita

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