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Serving ‘Reality’ Television ‘Realness’: Reading RuPaul’s Drag Race and its Construction of Reality

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-40
Number of pages18
JournalComparative American Studies
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
Published3 Feb 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

Despite the increasing visibility of queerness and queer folks in American popular culture, there is a concerning dissonance between this symbolic cultural progression, and the reality of queer lives that continue to be marked by discrimination, oppression, and violence. This article considers the ways in which RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009) simultaneously constitutes this increase in queer visibility, and yet also perpetuates specific hierarchies of subjectivity which work to maintain hegemonic power. There is a particular irony here: this television programme is both promoted and consumed through the lens of increasing queer access to the public sphere through visual representation, and yet because of the ways that it legitimises certain specific queer identities, works to delegitimize others, rendering them invisible and/or inferior.

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