Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Supplemental Post #4: RuPaul's Drag Race and Black Stereotypes

I've been a little bit behind on the latest season of RuPaul's Drag Race, and this weekend I decided to catch up. I watched an episode where there was an acting challenge, and this season's scene was a parody of the show Empire, adapted to the name of RuCo's Empire. I also happened to come across an article that made some very interesting points of show and it's performative blackness, and you can read the full article below.
  Basically, the article highlights the cringe-worthy nature of mostly non black gay men in drag attempting to "over-act" out parody scenes of show featuring a predominantly black cast. Because of this, Ru and fellow guest judge Faith Evans, must basically coach the queens on how to be more black, and in doing so, they create a very shallow sense of blackness filled with stereotypes: popping your tongue, switching your neck, bobbing your head, imitating AAVE, and snapping in the air. It only feeds into black stereotypes as well as portrays blackness as some kind of costume or personality that can just be practiced and worked on like no big deal. This does not come as a surprise considering drag and gay culture in general is predominantly filled with queens trying to unleash their "inner black woman" which is not something uncommon to actually hear.
  Another interesting thing to note, is RuPaul's response to all this criticism, and he usually doesn't take it very seriously. He thinks people are just overly sensitive and that they need to get over it. This pretty much how most conversations dealing with cultural appropriation go, you're either offended by it, or you tell people to get over it. I think their is a fine line when discussing appropriation, and as a fan of the show, I find myself trying to defend the behavior because I find something truly freeing in the art of performing in drag and it sometimes feels easier to just say, they're just men in wigs, even though I know there are a lot of issues to be discussed. Any thoughts?


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