“You can call me him, you can call me her. I don’t care, as long as you call me, ”says one of the best-known phrases of RuPaul (United States, 1960). The mantra of the drag queen most powerful in history, and one of the most recognizable faces of American television, which has just premiered its first series on Netflix, AJ and the Queen, leaves no doubt. In his case, his enormous personal success is closely related to activism in favor of the rights of the LGTBI + community and racialized people.
In recent years, however, its most critical viewers consider that it protects its valuable brand above the interests of minorities that made it a media star.
The contest RuPaul: Drag Queens, a Triumph operation of the transformism whose 11 applauded seasons are available on Netflix, is that product you want to protect at all costs. A group of men dressed as women compete to recreate and exaggerate the stereotypes attributed to the opposite sex.
In addition to large doses of fun, the program, such as the drag It has a huge political burden. It seeks to annihilate the gender roles on which toxic masculinity is based. In the absence of televoting in a space that is not broadcast live, it is the ubiquitous RuPaul, creator, producer and presenter of the matter, who also acts as a judge. But it is also true that the Californian, who for decades has earned his status as an LGTBI + reference, has been pursued for years by an image of a millionaire away from the realities close to the people who tune into his program.
Statements have contributed to it like the ones he did to The guardian in 2018, in which he admits that he would not allow any woman to participate in his program, although they have always participated in a minority way in the movement drag. Neither transsexual nor cisgender women (those born with female genitalia) are welcome to their multicolored paradise. “The drag loses irony if men do not, because it is a social declaration and a provocation against the culture dominated by men. It is a true rejection of masculinity. Otherwise, the whole concept of what we are doing changes, ”he commented in that interview.
For Alex Gallego, spokesman for the trans area of the LGTBI + Gylda association“That argument, instead of breaking down barriers, continues to impose limits on women,” he explains to EL PAÍS by telephone. “RuPaul as a pioneer, he should defend more than anyone that every form of gender transgression is welcome. Some of his ideas have become outdated and are typical of someone who is more concerned with economic interests than with a true social struggle. ”
Manuel Segade, artistic curator and director of the Madrid Art Center 2 de Mayo, agrees that RuPaul is wrong in defending the idea that only a man can fight that way against toxic masculinity. “With his words, he restricts the use a woman can make of her body. It is undercover machismo and a gender idea as obsolete as that of feminists who deny the possibility of transgender women to be part of their collective, ”he explains.
To the queen drag, who became king of entertainment over the years, he is also accused of having forgotten the racial struggle. The moment in which he and his RuPaul program team: drag queens picked up a new Emmy in September 2019, the third in a row, for the best reality show It serves as an x-ray of the situation. At the top of a stage and with the award in hand, the creator of the contest attended the press surrounded by white producers, directors and screenwriters.
And then came the awkward question. “Don’t you think it’s also important that minorities are represented behind the scenes in a television space as diverse as yours?” Said an American reporter.
Neither he nor his companions knew how to give a solid answer and the doubt went viral in networks and in the later chronicles that summed up the awards gala. “Who has been the real winner?”, the newspaper was questioned The independent A few days after the ceremony. The British edition of his reality show, which has just issued its first season, also received criticism for the shortage of non-white contestants.
Although now he hangs up the label of late, RuPaul André Charles’s age (he will turn 60 in 2020) has played in his favor when it comes to winning television. He was a spectator child of the great classics of the medium in the United States, from Carol Burnett to the musical specials of Sony and Cher through the series Perry Mason that he saw with his mother. In addition, his youth coincided with the revolution that Andy Warhol and John Waters applied to pop culture.
That perfect storm of references added to his ambition and his status as a visionary helped a drag jump to the mass media. He first triumphed in music and was a recurring presence in the cinema, until he became the first figure of the small screen. He achieved in 1996 that a representative of social minorities had his own talk show, as Oprah Winfrey had done ten years before and how, somewhat after him, Ellen Degeneres did.
“We cannot forget that, if we compare their achievements with respect to their failures, the balance remains positive,” says Manuel Segade. “His program and his contagious laugh as a television curtain show an image of the drag community far from drama and the marginal. His program achieves something as difficult as being a factory of international talents for people who would otherwise remain invisible. ”