Category Archives: Drag Race

“The Final Three Hunty” Response

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In response to the blog post  “The Final Three, Hunty,” a point was brought up that this episode was All About Roxxxy…and I agree! It is clear that the writer of this blog post clearly is annoyed by Roxxy’s tactics and I feel the same exact way.

Throughout the whole episode Roxxxy failed to raise her chances of winning, and becoming America’s Next Drag Superstar, in my opinion. Starting from the beginning of the episode, she came off as bitter. First came, talking down to Jinkx after realizing she was the only one lacking a letter from Detox after her elimination. Roxxxy then again picked on Jinkx after doing a horrible job during the “hung jury” challenge, saying an exuberant amount of mean and hurtful comments, discrediting Jinkx of her valuable work. Using Joyrich’s quote, as in the original blog post, and also spoken about in Gamson’s “Freaks Talk Back,” “media is the site where knowledge is produced,” and Roxxxy fails as a role model. The point of being America’s Next Drag Superstar is to be a role model for other to look up to and set a positive example. However after watching this episode, I feel like every episode this season Roxxxy was filling up with more and more hot air, finally blowing up in this episode. Can this be the REAL Roxxxy? I think so. The whole episode Roxxxy comes off as a bully, attacking Jinkx the whole time, because clearly she knows Jinkx not only has done well throughout the competition, but because she takes her kindness for weakness, knowing Jinkx has a kind heart. Alaska has the same comedic tendencies as Jinkx, but Roxxxy didn’t go after Alaska, because I’m sure Alaska would’ve snapped right back. I’m no expert, but if you’re trying to get America on your side, I don’t think bullying is the way to do it.

You’re a gorgeous girl, but I liked you until now. And your apology in front of the judges didn’t seem sincere…at all! Good try at making yourself seem like you cared for the judges, but the you left the real you and your true feelings backstage 😡  Sorry (not so sorry) Roxxxy.

One thing this blog post doesn’t talk about as much is Jinkx! Although she was being put down this episode, I’m really impressed by the way she conducted herself, despite the negative energy surrounding her. In the Gross reading from the beginning of the semester, he speaks about the idea that, the only place you can go to look for a role model or someone “like you” when you are a sexual minority is the media, and that can be damaging. However, this is exactly why I think Jinkx deserves to be America’s Next Drag Superstar. It’s clear that she is able to stand her ground and get her work done, despite what others say about her (negative or positive), she creates positive energy, and gives off a positive message. Although Drag Queens are supposed to be overly glamorous, she does so in her own way, and creates a name for herself, always thinking outside of the box.

To Conclude: Jinkx you are the winner…in my opinion. Shante You Stay! 🙂

P.S: I like Alaska too, but she seemed to just fade off into the background this episode due to the high focus of Jinkx and Roxxxy. Still love ya Laska!

~JC

RuPaul_s Drag Race_ Episode 10, Season 5 - Super Troopers | Video Clips, Watch Full Episodes Online

Drag Race’s “Super Troopers” episode was definitely one of my favorites all season. Besides the Snatch Game and the “Reading is Fundamental” segment, the episode where the queens take stereotypically straight men and put them in drag is always the one I most look forward to. It is always interesting to see these men play with notions of gender and camp and how a lot of them have a blast doing so. One thing I’ve always had a problem with, however, is how these episodes always teeter on the borderline of camp and plain ridicule of drag. At what point does it stop being endearing and start simply becoming a contrast between hetero-normative and queer representations of gender?

What I loved about this season was the political and cultural message behind bringing in a group of gay military men in a post-DADT world. That the men are gay and are able to share their stories of being a part of the military during DADT highlights an important and oft-ignored feature of RuPaul’s Drag Race: its ability to highlight and bring a different representation to the social and cultural issues of our time. DADT worked to suppress the voices and identity expression of gay men and women in the military based on the fear that homosexual people would “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” (source) This homophobic fear stems from historical and mainstream representations of homosexual men as “sissy” and feminine sexual predators. Really, the quote should read, “would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of masculinity and heterosexuality that are the essence of military capability.”

What this episode of Drag Race does is twist these preconceived notions of gay men as largely feminine. In Connor’s post, “Varied Representations,” he points to Drag Race’s play on gender representations to be related to Jeffrey Bennett’s article “In Defense of Gaydar: Reality Television and the Politics of the Glance” which deconstructs reactions to reality dating shows that assign sexual orientations to contestants based on their degrees of masculinity and femininity. Of course, the men that were most feminine were stereotypically viewed as gay and vice versa, and yet the shows would break these stereotypes for shock value. Connor argues that this episode “has varying degrees of masculinity and femininity within each contestant and their pairs…These differences make it more difficult to stereotype the groups as a whole and blurs the lines of masculine versus feminine.” Rather than relying on contrasting poles to highlight transgressions in stereotypically assigned gender performances based on sexual practices–extremely feminine straight men, for instance–this episode shows the us that there are varying degrees on the spectrum of masculinity and femininity that have little to do with sexual identity.

It was a surprise to everyone that the partner Alaska chose, the pretty blonde one, had zero grace walking in heels while Detox’s masculine-looking partner walked like a seasoned queen in stilettos. This shattering of cultural stereotypes based on appearances also tells us that even drag queens can subscribe to these gender performance expectations, as Alaska was the one that assigned the partners based on these stereotypes. In his article, Bennett points out the importance of the “gaydar” in these dating reality shows and that “it is often unconcerned with truths and more interested in ideals of who might (and often does) exist in one’s midst. Gaydar is in part fascinating because of its inevitable inaccuracy. By smothering fluid identities with ontological expectations, gaydar eventually fails in its essentializing impulse.” (409) In a way, Alaska was subscribing to these notions of the gaydar, hoping that her blonde beauty would make a good drag queen yet these men were swiftly able to prove her wrong in her original assumptions.

These ideas that Connor and Bennett point to perfectly signify one of the most important takeaways in our QIPC class, that gender and sexuality identities are fluid social constructions and tend to be restricted by societal and cultural control.

JG

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IN RESPONSE: “READING IS THE REAL ART FORM OF INSULT”

When I watched the seventh episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race: RuPaul Roast, and much like my own experience watching the show so far, I did not know about codes and activities done in the culture of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I was surprised that Ian Xtravaganza’s initial reflection post mentioned that this was the first example seen where drag race culture appropriates pop culture. I assumed it was another part of the drag race culture, but it fits in well with the idea of “T” “shade” and “reading.” Although Ian did not mention any specific readings in the original post, the argument that the roast is new to the drag subculture and to the show was notable. This reminded me of our discussion in class about subcultures. Drag as a subculture, enters mainstream through show, along with that comes the appropriation of other mainstream cultures.

How would this insertion of a roast look to those not part of the mainstream culture it comes from? Would this be a part of a new code for viewers of RuPauls Drag Race and be easily identifiable as part of a subculture code for comedy? I would argue that there is an element of gaydar involved in being able to detect the codes of the drag race subculture, some of which I myself cannot outright identify. Also relating to the reading “In Defense of Gaydar” there seems to be an appropriation of mainstream pop culture event to drag race. RuPaul’s Drag Race make’s roasts queer because it is like “reading” and throwing “shade.” It connects the codes of the drag race and of pop culture.

Clearly this is an episode where Jinkx is going to shine for her comedic qualities and surprisingly also gets complemented on her glamourous look, while those that are more on the glamourous side like Roxxxy and Alyssa did not end up being able to balance any comedic side in them.  Again, the challenges in RuPaul Drag Race’s and the judge’s comments say that the grad race is partial to a queen that is able to be comedic, throw shade and look glamourous while doing it.

I agree with Ian in that Roxxxy’s breakdown was notable in following a queer narrative of not being accepted by one’s own family and only finding a sense of common identity and acceptance late on in a queer narrative. While watching the Untucked episode, I was touched, and I will admit that I cried, in the bit about Roxxxy’s abandonment and the mutual understanding that the queentestants had.

I agree that the lounge that allows viewers  the “behind-the-scenes” look of the show and are the main stage for the Untucked episodes do become a safe space for the queentestants. It has become a more interesting space with the surprise boxes that bring memories, whether good or bad, back to queentestants. There is also the obvious queer targeting of the Absolut Vodka brand that regularly sponsors the show and also had one of the companies own members of the brand be part of the show. Just like the show queered the roasts, it also queers the image of Absolut Vodka.

-JB

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The Final Three, Hunty

In “The Final Three, Hunty,” we are left with The Final Three: Alaska, Roxxxy and Jinkx.

Following her elimination, Detox gets the last laugh by leaving notes for each Alaska and Roxxxy–not Jinkx. Sweet Roxxxy volunteers to draft a fake letter from the now-gone Detox to Jinkx: “Jinkx, you sent me home, you [redacted] hot [redacted] mess.” No, says Jinkx’s face. Roxxxy giggles.

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This episode’s challenge is to film RuPaul’s music video, “The Beginning.” Candis Cayne, who has come up before in our class discussion, steps in as the choreographer to teach the contestants #chiffonography and #hairography. Of the three, Alaska struggles in this segment as she fails to nail the choreography. The girls then film a courtroom scene in which each girl has to portray three completely different characters. Jinkx stands out with her acting chops and her characters’ elaborate and extensive personal backgrounds.

Roxxxy’s Toddlers & Tiaras Twin

Roxxxy falls short in her performance and backstage she states that she, again, has issues with comedy. She considers herself to be serious about drag and sees comedy while in drag to be poking fun at drag: “Drag continues to get insulted in this competition.” She also attacks her fellow contestants with vicious pageant-like mind games by belittling Jinkx’s work–being a drag queen isn’t merely an occupation, it is an identity. Roxxxy’s action then not only call into question the legitimacy of Jinkx’s work but also her identity as a human being.

Camp is present throughout the episode: most notably, in the beginning when RuPaul explains the challenges for the week and emphasizes the “hung jury,” the meal between RuPaul and the contestants where RuPaul states, I hope you brought your appetite.” It would be interesting to examine how the campiness of the show affects the audience’s perception of drag culture.

The love-to-hate Roxxxy brings the drama again this week. Most of the episode was all. about. Roxxxy. In pointing out the flaws of her competitors during a one-on-one with Gloria Allred, she reminds us of the “boy drag” incident: “Alaska came out as a boy,” and continues, “This is a drag competition.”

During Roxxxy’s meal with RuPaul, Roxxxy talks about representing the big girls, “being a gay man and being thicker, it’s harder…” This concept is discussed in “Fat. Hairy. Sexy,” where Pyle and Klein explain that “Men whom the gay community considers beautiful (young, skinny, hairless) have an easier time navigating their social world.” Those who do not fall under those adjective are shunned from the “conventional gay spaces” (78). She states that she wants to be crowned superstar to set an example for the bigger girls out there–an excellent point considering that “media is the site where knowledge is produced” according to Joyrich. Roxxxy’s own acceptance on television would mean positive visibility.

However, in Roxxxy’s case, she’s not exactly a positive representation. In an intimate reveal Jinkx tells the panel about her history of being an outcast and the discovery of drag, “[I was] hurting at home; I was living on stage.” Roxxxy–not to be left out–jumps in by saying, “I love you.” Classic Roxxxy. This seems like a manipulation tactic appearing to be sympathetic in front of the judges and in the process distracting from Jinkx’s moment. I cannot deal with you Roxxxy. 

The moment of truth: Roxxxy owned the choreography, Jinkx dominated the acting segment and Alaska (I almost forgot about you) defended herself the best. The three queens compete in the final lip-sync and the viewers are left to vote for America’s next drag superstar.

-MS

Camp is For Like Ever

In response to Ru Paul’s ‘Sugar Ball’ by QK

I would certainly agree, there are undeniable similarities between the structure, format, and goals of RuPaul’s Drag Race and America’s Next Top Model (ANTM).

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She-Mail (Very punny too!) — I mean…

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Tyra Mail — Duh.

 

The reality plus competition formatting of both shows allow for the audience to categorize them as being apart of the same genre. Also, both shows follow a structure that presents elimination challenges focused on aesthetic performances, to then be judged by the respective autonomous voices in these fields (performing drag, and modeling in these cases). Though I find your connection between the two shows as an interesting point to consider; how do RuPaul’s Drag Race and ANTM shape how audiences (of these shows) value these productions as discursive spaces?

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The first critique you mention in your post is about the “Bitchfest” challenge, in which the queentestants mock a competitor’s style of drag, using puppets. Though this challenge could be considered “an immature outlet for their feelings”, I think this challenge could also attest to measuring a queentestant’s range of “campiness”. In Larry Gross’ text, he explains that gay and lesbian life often requires the skill to “pass for straight” in order to avoid social stigmas or physical danger, thus a heightened sense for impersonation is developed — to enact what he calls “self-conscious role-playing” (Gross, 18).

Although the “Bitchfest” could be used as a tool to voice distaste for others, like we saw with Roxxxy’s performance of Jynx, it could also seem like a meta version of camp. The queentestants were filtering their competitor’s style of drag performance through their own drag personas; i.e. how Alaska won the challenge by exaggerating Roxxxy Andrew’s tear-aways and double wigs. Gross also explains that camp can take the sting out of oppressive characterizations of personality when personas become theatrical, because it reveals how you can separate the stereotyped “truths” of gender and sexuality from the body they’re projected from. However, Roxxxy’s version of Jynx Monsoon didn’t seem very “campy” and actually aimed to do the opposite… by mocking Jynx’s narcolepsy and criticizing her contouring; which we see from Jynx outside of drag (or as Jerick Hoffer), in the competition. RuPaul responds to Roxxxy’s performance of the Jynx puppet with “the shade of it all!”, as the other contestants stand there looking stunned at Roxxxy’s aggressive performance. I felt as though this demonstrated a clear disconnect between “campiness”, and public shaming of identity.

Additionally, I would argue that the “stereotypically attractive males” with the bodybuilder-physique on Drag Race, could also be analyzed as a version of camp. Often times we see women highly sexualized on competition-formatted shows, which reinforce dominant ideologies about beauty, and heteronormative sexual preference. The first thing that comes to my mind is The Price is Right because, I’m kind of a loser (in a very self-claimed and positive sense!), but more current examples include the models on Deal Or No Deal, and Vanna White’s role on Wheel Of Fortune. In Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble she states that trouble occurs when: “the unanticipated agency, of a female ‘object’ who inexplicably returns the glance, reverses the gaze, and contests the place and authority of the masculine position” (Butler, vii), in which trouble represents rebellion and the reprimand to come. Moreover, the men used to ornament the setting for Drag Race challenge the hegemonic standard that understands the female body as an ornament of desire, exposing how desire is also constructed.

Moreover, Roxxxy’s blatant hostility toward Jynx reminds me of the way contestants on ANTM are characterized, or edited for viewers at home. Both Drag Race and ANTM have a subversive level of competition going on, outside of the constructed challenges. There always seems to be two or more contestants that respond to their competition by trying to foil them outside of the planned challenges, and then subsequently distract one another during the required challenge-competitions. It reminds me of ANTM cycle 5, with what I’ll deem “granola-bull gate”. Maybe it’s not good TV, but it is certainly memorable.

In your post, you connect Rodriguez’s explanation of discursive spaces in “Divas, Atrevidas, y Entendidas”, with discussion from Warner’s “What’s Wrong With Normal?”. This provides an interesting perspective to analyze the intersection between popular culture and reality shows, and how reality shows become what Rodriguez explains as, “not establish[ing] which identity practices are available, but it does provide a frame through which these practices are received in that context” (Rodriguez, 5). In effort to produce entertainment that the American palate has already been introduced to, with some diversity of subject so reality shows don’t seem repetitive (grain of salt here!), can the structure of RuPaul’s Drag Race provide visibility? Unfortunately individualized responses from the audience are hard to access, like you mention, although I think it’s fair to question how audience opinions are censored. Someone in class mentioned how the queentestants on Drag Race are rarely judged by a panel of their peers, and we could say the same for ANTM. Therefore, the most rational identities existing in the space of aesthetic production become the cultural agents, seeming progressive to an otherwise uninformed audience, which gets back to Warner’s original point! So, is the goal of Drag Race to code drag performances in normativity, or is the joke really on the audience? Same goes for ANTM. Is the space for which reality television occurs in popular culture ornamenting “authenticity”, or in fact limiting the margins of visibility for production (of drag culture and modeling), and negating democratization?

I realize I’ve gone off to a place that seems to be dancing around ideas concerning conspiracies, although the discursive site of the reality-competition show should be seen as separate from reality shows that (aim to) document “unfiltered” experiences. Unless reality is competition, and the reality-competition show is a more preferable context to receive all the T and the shade?

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also, this moment was great.

–NP

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Response to “Reading is the Real Art Form of Insult”

The highlight of this episode was the lip-sync between Alyssa and Roxxxy. Of course, this is a competition and everything and anything is game–including personal anecdotes and the waterworks. I, too, like Ian thought Roxxxy was pulling out all the stops to save herself from elimination. Roxxxy cries out, “It just hurts that I was left,” and in the process breaks everybody’s hearts just a little (even my tiny heart). I completely agree with Ian’s conclusion that Roxxy’s story ties in closely to the unfortunate and pervasive experiences of queer youth suffering from the same abandonment by family members. This is an example of the divide we’ve been studying in our Queer Identities and Popular Culture class: the “us” versus “them.” We have also since learned that the “us” against “them” mentality exists even within the already ostracized queer culture in Warner’s “The Trouble with Normal.”

This brings me to the point I would like to further explore: RuPaul’s response. Maintaining her composure, RuPaul responds, “We love you.  And you are so welcome here.” RuPaul’s Drag Race is a discursive space, as we learned from Rodriguez. It displays the characteristics of being 1. a place to converse 2. where knowledge is produced and the norms are set and 3. there is its own linguistic code. Although this is a game show, most of the entertainment from the show comes from the relationships and the interactions between the contestants. The girls come together to create a discursive space, a space for a subculture.

In “Bear Nation,” the bear subculture is often described by the subjects as a place where they were accepted; where previously the “weird” and the not “normal” (for the bears, the fact that they were gay men that did not abide by the gay stereotype) was now “OK.” Their “trouble with normal” ceased to exist within the safe confines of their community. Although Roxxxy’s abandonment does not appear to be based on sexual orientation, Roxxxy felt as though she was not accepted–just like some of the bears interviewed in the documentary. RuPaul wisely explains, “You know, as gay people, we get to choose our own family.” The contestants share the foundation of being drag queens and most share similar backgrounds or experiences–unfortunately most are struggles with acceptance. The show itself is a subculture that demonstrates that regardless of each drag queen’s history or experiences, they are now “OK.” As RuPaul states, “We are a family here.”

-MS

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.

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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.

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-Rita

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“The Shade of It All”

“We’re going to have a good old fashioned bitch fest…with puppets!”  That was the theme of this weeks mini-challenge and perhaps set the tone for the entire “Sugar Bowl” episode which was an all out bitch fest from start to finish. The last few episodes were filled with Alyssa and Coco drama, but out with the old and in with the new as this week’s cat fights encompassed Rolaskatox vs. Jinkx. Almost immediately after Coco was sent packing, Roxxxy became all about the T and shade, as she let Jinx know that it was her against the trio. This became even clearer as the mini-challenge progressed and each contestant dressed and acted out the character of another contestant using puppets. Although most puppets were humorous and good natured, Roxxxy showed an extremely satirical impression of Jinkx.  First, Roxxxy makes fun of Jinkx’s sleeping disorder, then claimed that Jinkx was talentless and a bitch to which Ru replies “The Shade of it all”. Alaska was the winner of the challenge with her hysterical Roxxxy performance and her “Where my people at” line.

It is apparent that Roxxxy and Detox do not take Jinkx version of drag seriously. There is a definite line between the type of drag which these ladies perform. Although Jinkx takes the show and her drag very seriously, it caters to her comical side, which is who she is and what she likes. Despite how funny the other ladies can be, this does not mesh well with the beauty queen diva drag which Roxxxy and Detox present, while Alaska blends somewhere in the middle (but obviously leans more toward her two counterparts).  For TV viewers at home, this can be considered queer in itself. For those unfamiliar with the drag world, many assume that to be drag is to always be over the top, fabulous and comical. While most of the queens are expected to be this way, as with all acting, there are different types of actors and roles. If before Drag Race you did not know much about queens or did not immerse yourself in their subculture (which is invisible to most of the general public), it is understandable that all drag queens are type cast into certain roles.

This notion is broken down in this episode, as well as many before it, which show that there are various queer identities inside this queer subculture.  And although Larry Gross does not really touch on drag queens specifically in his book Up From Invisibility he does state of the gay community “our vulnerability to media stereotyping… derives in large part from our isolation and pervasive invisibility” (15).  He further notes throughout his book that it is usually over the top instances in queer culture that get shown in the media. This is why Drag Race is a perfect representation of a show which does well with middle of America audiences. It is outlandish enough that it is not threatening to heterosexual audiences and episodes such as Sugar Bowl where we see the “claws come out”, is that queer aspect about reality television that people love.

Ru announces the first ever “Sugar Bowl” for the main challenge wherein the queens must  make three outfits – super duper sweet 16, sugar mama executive realness and candy couture – with the latter being made of primarily candy. There is editing upon editing going on as the ladies prepare their looks. After Ru comes in and reminds each girl of their weakness, the girls each change their looks up a bit to coincide with his remarks. Roxxxy and Detox are nothing but sassy when it comes to Jinkx and take every moment they can to put her down. This includes during practice of the “sugar baby” dance, when Roxxxy threatens to hit Jinkx if she is not careful with her over sized lollipop. With only four queens left, it is not surprising to see an alliance form in reality television however, maybe an alliance is what cost Detox in the end. When it was time to take the main stage in front of the Judges half of the queens candy couture outfits were fabulous, with Roxxxy and Alaska definitely standing out. Detox’s taste level is questioned by the judges, which one can imagine for a Drag Queen is the worst thing they could hear. Earlier in the fitting room, Jinkx mentions that the problem with having a “best friend” in the competition is that “Roxxy is so close to Detox she cant say- Detox that dress doesnt read as candy.” Perhaps had Roxxxy spoken up Detox would have been safe from elimination that night.

And so Alaska is awarded the winning crown, with Roxxxy a close second, leaving Jinkx and Detox to lip sinc for the lives. This is ONLY after Ru asked the most dangerous question of the season “Who does not deserve to be in the top 3 and why?”  Jinx was first up and said Detox has fallen short the most often. It then came as no surprise when Rolaskatox instantaneously all named Jinx as the weakest link, accusing her of everything from lack of maturing to inability to step outside of her box to not being the best of the best.  After the ladies go untuck in the lounge and the judges are making their decisions, Michelle accuses “Roledex” of throwing Jinkx under the bus so they can make it the top 3 together, which is clear left a bad taste in her mouth.  During the lip sincing performance Roxxy obviously has her “best friend” blinders on and announces that Detox is winning, but Alaska clearly sees that Detox is getting “outdanced” by Jinkx. Jinkx  was declared the victor and Detox had to sashay away leaving the top 3 dancing their way off the stage, and allowing us one more week of the Roxxxy/Jinkx drama.

Finally, after talking about queer spaces and discursive spaces this week, I realized that we can consider the fitting room a discursive space for both the queens and the at home audience. Although it is an open space as it is shown to the public through the television, it is absolutely a place where norms and expectations are set, where society learns/gains knowledge about the “drag culture”, has its own linguistic code and on the most basic level, the place where the queens converse.

-JS-

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Response: LOOKS LIKE A DRAG QUEEN, TALKS LIKE A DRAG QUEEN, SMELLS LIKE A DRAG QUEEN

https://qipc2013.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/looks-like-a-drag-queen-talks-like-a-drag-queen-smells-like-a-drag-queen/

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.

CK

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Varied Representations 5×10 “Super Troopers”

In episode 10, “Super Troopers”, the contestants are faced with the challenge of making over a veteran of war as a sister in her drag family. The NAVY and Marines vets came in varying ages and sizes, presenting different obstacles for the contestants. At first I worried this episode would follow the typical narrative of gay men on television by juxtaposing masculine NAVY men amongst the feminine queen contestants. This limits the representations of gay males in society by having the two extreme representations of a group. Thankfully my fears were proven wrong.

Alaska won the ability to match the men with the contestants, and used stereotypes to assign the “worst” men to her biggest competition. When she assigns Dave, the oldest looking former NAVY seal, to Jinx, her biggest competition, she hopes his age handicaps Jinx’s success in the challenge. Alaska then pairs herself with the “tall, pretty one” as her strategy to win this week’s challenge. Once the pairs begin their transformations, the stereotypes that could have been constructed from the initial pairings disintegrate. Detox’s pair, Aaron, has the looks of a muscled Marine, however, can walk as well as the true contestants in high heels and is called a “complete sissy.” What Alaska thought would be a shoe-in for best drag queen out of the contestants was extremely stiff and could not walk in heels. The basis of Alaska’s pairings was stereotypes, which were being completely shattered in this episode. This representation relates to Jeffrey Bennett’s article “In Defense of Gaydar: Reality Television and the Politics of the Glance.” The article focuses on reality dating shows rooted in assigning sexual orientations to contestants. The shows would break the stereotypes for shock value. This week’s episode seems much more genuine in their representations which are not shocking on a show such as RuPaul’s Drag Race. Whereas those dating shows would flip the stereotypes, having feminine straight men and masculine gay men, this episode just has varying degrees of masculinity and femininity within each contestant and their pairs. This offers a more realistic representation of gay males as each person is shown with varying qualities. Ron Becker writes in Gay TV and Straight America, “Although the amount of gay material increased significantly during this period, the range of LGBTQ representations remained highly circumscribed” (Becker 10). This is true about the dating shows, yet this episode celebrates more varying representations. These differences make it more difficult to stereotype the groups as a whole and blurs the lines of masculine versus feminine.

I also was glad that the episode recognized the experiences of the veterans serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Although it was not the main focus of the episode, we learned the differing experiences during different times of service. Dave, one of the older veterans, spoke about being discharged when he was outed. The younger veterans speak of the worry of their sexual orientations being revealed before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed. Coco’s partner Steve revealed his reasoning of joining the military as a means of making himself straight. This speaks volumes of the reputation of the military and its anti-gay sentiments. It was important that the episode touched on the serious subject within the fun atmosphere of the series. Another serious note within the episode is when Dave reveals he is living with AIDS. This reminded me of our discussion “Off the Straight and Narrow.” In the past, much of society’s knowledge of gay culture was rooted in the AIDS epidemic. We spoke about the diversity that has emerged since the making of the film; however, we spoke of the lack of focus on AIDS in recent years. As the older veteran in this episode, a comparison can be drawn reflecting his generation’s focus on the AIDS epidemic and the younger veterans focus on DADT being repealed.

This episode promoted varying representations of masculinity and femininity within gay male culture. This was one of my favorite challenges this season and enjoyed the genuine camaraderie and friendships between the contestants and their partners.