Dr. Winnie L.M. Yee
18 October 2015
Are Those Really The Queens’ Nosises? : Representation of Drag in Rupaul’s Drag Race
The successful reception of Paris is Burning paved way and acquired attention for drag queens on mass media. After the 1990s, the mass audience consumed and grew accustomed with drag queens and perhaps their culture through various mass media mediums. Thus, granting the drag community the ability to clearly define and spread knowledge about their culture. Without regard to such empowerment, one must not disregard the fact that the knowledge spread through mass media also possesses the power to stigmatize the subculture. This essay aims to demonstrate that the drag as shown on Rupaul’s Drag Race represents the subculture of drag queen to be neither subversive nor empowering. The sixth season of the show is studied to prove this argument.
Rupaul’s Drag Race is an American reality competition features Rupaul, the prominent queen of drag community and her search for America’s next drag superstar. In each season, a selected group of drag queens will compete against one another in mini challenges and main challenge to come up with the fashion runway look that illustrate the given category and theme of the week. The show bases loosely on drag ball culture, as appeared on a 1990 documentary film, Paris is burning. By referencing this film, RuPaul establishes a dialogue between it and the work of Drag Race. This connection not only legitimates the queerness of the show in the queer historical continuum; it is also an attempt to equate the two in terms of social value. (Edgar 136)
Commodification and the Loss of ‘ Noise ‘
Dick Hebdige discusses in his book, Subculture: The Meaning of Style that when the original innovations, which signify subculture are translated into commodities and generally available, the noise of the subculture becomes ‘ frozen .' The symbolic challenges are...