RuPaul told the Associated Press last year that he wanted to keep out of politics. “Our goal solely is to have fun and celebrate drag," he said. "What happens after that, it ain't none of my damn business.” But is that still true? She’s also said that she didn’t think the world was ready for Drag Race until the Obama administration, and that drag generally goes underground during conservative regimes. But now, with her show more popular than ever, it’s impossible for Ru to go underground. Is getting political the new RuPaul Doctrine?
This week RuPaul threw the Last Ball on Earth, where the queens had to dress up in an Alaskan winter look (a swimsuit), a Miami summer look (a fur coat), and a Martian look (because humanity has had to flee Earth). Even when Ru came out on the runway—in an incredible Leigh Bowery-inspired look that covered her whole face with a visor and a multi-colored face mask—she made sure to tell the audience that 97 percent of scientists and "four out of four Drag Race judges” believe that climate change is real. This seemed like a very direct message leveled at the current presidential administration, which doesn’t seem to believe in that science and called it a “hoax.”
This seems to be the new direction that the show is going in, especially after Nancy Pelosi stopped by All Stars 3 and RuPaul urged viewers to register to vote and to contact their representatives to Hashtag Resist. But should the show start getting political? Isn’t just the act of it existing and being so popular an act of resistance onto itself? Many of us are watching this show to be inspired by the queens, relish in their looks, and laugh at their shady quips. Do we want our refuge from the real world to get as politicized as your Aunt Susan’s Facebook feed? (No, Aunt Susan, I will not watch MSNBC with you.)
While we live in a democracy, Drag Race has always been a monarchy ruled over by an authoritarian drag queen. If she wants to make it political, then so it shall be, even if it is lip syncing to the choir. It would be nice to have some safe spaces where we don’t have to hear about the latest in political news, but if Ru getting a political bent means we get to see three looks from each of the queens every week, then go to Change.org and sign me up.
Speaking of the president, Drag Race did peddle in dispersing some fake news this week. Monét X Change told the queens that British people initially had a similar accent to Americans and it's their accents that changed, not ours. Monique Heart and Asia O’Hara both freaked out on him, saying it was “lies, fairy tales, fallacy." Monique even told the camera, “That's false, America.”
The problem is Monét was right all along. Just ask the good people at Cambridge University. It turns out that Americans and British people sounded exactly the same when the first colonists landed on these shores because, well, they were British people. But then the American accent has stayed mostly the same while it’s the British accent, that is absent of the R sound (or “non-rhotic” as linguists would say), that is a new creation.
Basically the poor Londoners who got rich thanks to the Industrial Revolution wanted a new way to speak to make themselves stand out from the poor, so invented a new way of speaking. That eventually became the “Received Pronunciation” that the Brits use today. Give it up for Monét who is not an idiot like the show painted her out to be.
But this show is not about climate change and accents. It is about drag. (But don’t get it confused with Untucked, which is about The Vixen fighting with people.) We should talk about drag. Three looks from each of the remaining queens was a lot of time on the runway and, to be honest, a lot of very similar bathing suit, fur, and Martian looks. There were a few that really stood out and, rightfully, Ru made them the tops this week.
Aquaria eventually took the crown for her three takes on the theme: one was a lucha libre inspired bikini that made her look like a superhero in some Not The Avengers XXX: A Porn Parody video, the second a Technicolor fur number made from the pelts of the foxes at Chernobyl, and the final one was just a few geometric pieces of fabric that looked very early-career Lady Gaga.
Miz Cracker was also in the top, and I loved her first two outfits—a bikini made entirely of hair and a pink fur paratrooper that looked like a character from a French cartoon—but her Martian look was the sort of shiny silver retro-futurism that a bunch of the queens fell back on. Kameron Michaels, who has uttered fewer words during this entire season than one of Aquaria’s (fictional) sugar daddies, had a similar look to Miz Cracker for their life on Mars. I actually didn’t love what she was offering. Her bikini was so much of a parody of a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills that it was just a copy of it. I didn’t understand her second look. She looked like Father Christmas got dressed using only Lisa Frank folders. Whatever. Ru liked it. What can I say?
Monét, Asia, and Dusty Ray Bottoms were fighting it out in the bottom. The worst was Dusty’s Mars look, which felt more like something you would find in the pre-wrapped gifts section of a third-tier department store than you would on the red planet. Asia shed a tear because she'd spent so much time helping everyone else sew, she didn't get chance to finish her own outfit. The other queens did her a solid and said that she helped every single one of them get their work done. I think that generosity is what saved her from being in the bottom two.
Dusty and Monét both completely turned it out giving their all to a Nicki Minaj song, so much so that Ru told the other queens that that is what she is looking for in a lip sync.
Sadly it was way too early in the season for her to save both of them, and Dusty went home without one single dot on her face. I bet now she really believes that the world is coming to an end, climate change or no.
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