Has RuPaul's Drag Race Fucked Up Drag?

To quote drag queen, Jasmine Master’s infamous, "I have something to say, RuPaul’s Drag Race has fucked up drag,’ meme, this thought-provoking opinion is something that I find myself returning to every time a new drag queen expresses the validation they feel from being chosen to be on the show. Furthermore, when this validation seems only rewarded when winning, it becomes a rather toxic outlook towards drag in drag race. While I don’t look down upon queens who have this belief, I do believe to an extent that it is exhausting to watch a queen dilute their talent to only being validated through RuPaul’s ‘stamp of approval.’ Drag is a form of self-expression and the idea that for some drag queens, their admission to drag race and running time on drag race is validation saddens me, because I think drag is such a beautiful art form and the variety of nuances that it’s performed in is what makes it most interesting to me. I sometimes feel like RuPaul’s Drag Race, as a competition, tends to affect that with its challenges that are fine tuned to specific areas. Sure some queens are more well-versed in different areas, and the show is meant to show case the variety of talents that walk through that work room, but I notice the pressures of a competition like drag race affecting queens nevertheless. I’d like to hear other’s thought on this.

  • Very important topic, especially since drag also has a history of being a political art form. Whoever chooses this topic should also keep in mind how Willam said one of the only reasons why she came onto drag race was because she couldn't get work anymore for being a queen who wasn't a "Ru Girl". Another important point is that while the race initially had very loose boundaries, because of its mass popularity it has its own controlling hand. this current season in particular (season 10). Has expressed that fits were egged on by producers, Snatch game characters or outfit choices were discarded based on what producers felt would be popular, etc. – Pamela Maria Schmidt 4 years ago
  • I think this could be useful to also compare earlier seasons to the more recent seasons - particularly the 'scandal' around the most recent All Stars season coming across as scripted and pre-arranged. – CatEllen 4 years ago
  • My sense is that drag has never been free of competition. Drag shows that I attended pretty regularly some three decades ago in a local bar had clear competitive elements. There were open rivalries, audience favorites, structured competitions, etc. I think it's legitimate to be critical and ask hard questions of anything in mass media, definitely, but I doubt there ever was a more pure form of drag that was free of competition and validation. – JamesBKelley 4 years ago

Want to write about TV or other art forms?

Create writer account