Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rupaul's Drag Race and Latin@ Queens

RuPaul's Drag Race, which airs on LOGO and logoonline.com is a combination of America's Next Top Model and Project Runway with contestants who are drag queens and female illusionists. I love this show. (As problematic as any beauty contest may be) So far there have been 2 seasons of this show and I could not help but notice something extremely disturbing about it. The ways in which the Puerto Rican Latinas have been treated because of their so-called "language skills."

For the finale of season 1, Nina Flowers and Bebe Zahara Benet were the two finalists. Both Bebe and Nina had accents but on was a French accent and the other was a Puerto Rican accent. Not once on the show was Bebe looked down upon because of her accent, yet that seemed to be the central focus when it came to Nina Flowers' air time and it is almost the main reason as to why she did not win the contest. According to Rupaul, "She would not be able to communicate well enough with her fan base." Her prediction was so weak and so wrong.

When the public was given the opportunity to use for their favorite Drag Queen, Nina Flowers won. Obviously, Nina's "language problem" was not really seen as an issue for the audience of the show. Nina Flowers lost the title becauuse she was not fluent in English. Spanish was her primary language. To keep this short, Jessica Wild in season 2 was also eliminated during episode 7 due to her "language skills." When Jessica Wild proposed her new book to be titled, "Dreams of a Golden Child" the cast members and judges laughed and asked if she was saying "golden shower" because they could not understand what she was saying. WTF. That is so not cool. That moment really upset me. Could they not see that they were humiliating one of the sweetest contestants on the show when she was not laughing at their comment. Poor Jessica Wild didn't even know what a Golden Shower was.

My point is this, as progressive and transgressive as Rupaul may claim to be, she is still perpetuating the notion of America being and "English Only" nation. She is the one in charge of picking the cast and season 3 (which will air this January 2011) has a contestant by the name of Yara Sofia. Yara Sofia is from Puerto Rico and has been part of the same dance club (club krash) where Jessica Wild and Nina Flowers came from. Given what has happened with both Jessica Wild and Nina Flowers it is very disappointing to already know that Yara Sofia will not win because she, just as Nina and Jessica, is not fluent in English. Why must Rupaul knowingly allow these girls to compete if she will not give them a chance to win? Many argue that at least Rupaul helps them in gaining exposure and thus leading to more successful drag careers. I beg to differ. To be content with exposure, while being denied an opportunity to win is almost like saying "Well, at least they're being represented, that should be more than enough." That is not right, its not fair, and its really disappointing to hear Rupaul, one of my great idols, to say these things.

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