In Sara’s post on episode 5, season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, “You Must be Prepared for Snatch Game,” she summarizes the episode and focuses heavily on the different types of drag. As she mentioned, there are some that are better respected than others, and this idea has turned out to be a common theme throughout the season. Even on this week’s Episode, “The Final Three Hunty,” Roxxxy Andrews tells Jinkx Monsoon and Alaska that their comedic drag isn’t taking the art of drag seriously enough. But what Sara has talked about in her post, and which I am prepared to agree with and take a step further by putting Joyrich’s piece in conversation with some others, is that there are many different types of drag, and that not showcasing each one of them is detrimental. How can anyone say what type of drag is real, especially when the art was created as a form of expression in the first place? Shouldn’t it be more open-minded?
This brings up an important point about visibility. As Sara pointed out, Joyrich talks a lot about how television is our window into the truth, how if we don’t see something in our daily lives as consumers, we believe what we see on television to be true. If the only form of drag shown on TV is this over-the-top glam drag, then many people will believe that to be the only form of drag. When we watched Off the Straight and Narrow (1996), it was mentioned that no matter what kind of visibility there was, if gays were on television or in movies, then gayness would be “put on the front burner.” The problem here, of course, is that gay minorities would be largely invisible, and I believe the same concept could be applied to this situation. Should comedic drag, because it is not total glam and therefore not “normal drag,” not have a representation on television? Does visibility by way of glam drag suffice to show the rest of the world that that is the only type of drag? It’s as if some of the queentestants are out to show the world what different types of drag are, but these are less comfortable and less marketable types of drag.
Sender’s discussion on Queer Eye can also be applied here. Although the point of the piece is that there should be a more complicated analysis than the visible/invisible dichotomy, Sender does get into how that dichotomy is discussed in reference to the show. Like that program, while Drag Race does promote popularity and visibility for a sector of queerness (being drag queens) that they did not have before and empowers them in a positive light, it promotes stereotypes. As Sara put in her post, “To push only one form simply stereotypes and pinholes drag queens and creates even more misunderstanding when someone doesn’t fit the already non-normative performance of drag.” This is precisely what Sender was getting at about Queer Eye. LOGO TV as a whole is a network that exists to promote the visibility of the queer community, but is this visibility a good thing?
The argument can be made that some visibility is better than none, that it is better for people to have some kind of reference for something they don’t see in their every day lives, but on a show like Drag Race, one would assume that stereotyping would be looked down upon. These queentestants have spent their whole lives outside of a mold that society has tried to put them in by being men dressed as and acting like women, rather than men acting like men. Was that all for the chance to be put into another mold for what kind of woman they should be? Putting Joyrich in conversation with the film and Sender’s piece leads me to believe that not all visibility is good visibility. We’re now at the point where everyone is supposed to fill some mold perpetuated by television, even drag queens.