From Paris is Burning to #dragrace: Social Media and the Celebrification of Drag Culture

Feldman, Zeena and Hakim, Jamie (2020) From Paris is Burning to #dragrace: Social Media and the Celebrification of Drag Culture. Celebrity Studies. ISSN 1939-2397

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Abstract

This article examines the celebrification of drag culture in the USA, and reflects on social media’s role therein. This transformation is contextualised historically by charting the evolution of drag media representation from the subversive drag collectives immortalised in arthouse documentaries like The Cockettes (2002) to the emergence of highly-polished, brand-conscious celebrity drag entrepreneurs propelled to fame by the reality television programme RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009–). The success of RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) has lent drag unprecedented levels of mainstream visibility. In so doing, we argue that RPDR has facilitated drag culture’s move from the fringes to the mainstream, and contributed to drag’s celebrification. In the second half of the article, we draw on celebrity studies and self-branding literatures to outline the central role that social media have played in the celebrification of drag culture. We also critique the politics this celebrification props up. Through analysis of queen-generated content on social media platforms, and of RPDR transcripts, we home in on the ethics of drag’s celebrification – specifically the ways it supports homonormative narratives of the ‘good queer’, and delimits the sorts of queer bodies and politics that are acceptable in the mainstream.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Film, Television and Media
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2020 00:09
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2020 00:02
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/74854
DOI: 10.1080/19392397.2020.1765080

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