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Art Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Serving fishy realness: representations of gender equity on RuPaul’s Drag Race

By Jorge C. González and Kameron Cavazos , 2016

Critical theorists argue that a dialectical materialism exists between ideology and culture and the material conditions of society. The same can be said for the production of sexuality and gender on television. Representations of drag queens in mainstream media have appeared in Hollywood films such as Victor/Victoria, Paris is Burning and The Birdcage. This paper argues that the complexity and holistic representation of drag queens in television media is often as complicated as the lived realities of drag queens themselves. By analysing a popular reality television show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, this paper will employ a rubric based on three stages to explore how gender is represented to the public. Each stage progresses from mocking drag queens and perpetuating negative stereotypes about genderqueer individuals, to more ‘normalizing’ depictions of said participants while still reinforcing heteronormative stereotypes, to ultimately portraying drag queens as holistic people on equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts. Implications and recommendations for further research are also presented at the conclusion of this paper.

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