Have you ever tossed around the phrase "not today, Satan"? Or off-handedly gushed that [blank] thing "gives you life"? Or picked up on that oh-so popular diss that someone or something is "shady," or indulged in that goofy exclamation of "yaaaaas, gurl"? Be honest with yourself, people. Even if you've been squirreled away in bed for the past ten years, marinating in your own grease and Haagen-Dazs, these little gems of pop culture vernacular have doubtlessly bubbled up into your attention at one time or another, whether from a friend or a sassy relative or your own mouth.
However, while you may have encountered these catchphrases in the past without a second thought, brushing them off as kitschy girl-talk, I am happy to let you know that these conversational padding terms didn't just pop out of a vacuum. Far from it, these are all colloquialisms that have blessedly seeped into pop culture from the drag community and which were popularized by your newest reality tv obsession: Ru Paul's Drag Race.
Now, as a film scholar and someone who confronts the entertainment industry with a critical approach, I am hardly promoting Drag Race as some kind of high art form. Far from it, this gag-worthy, gimmicky, and cat-fight driven spectacle situates drag right into the center of an arena of the most cliche and sickening of reality tv conventions. There is constant backtalk, drama, and exhibitionism. These drag queens are reamed for every drop of talent and entertainment value that they can muster for an international audience, dishing out an insane arsenal of runway looks, comedic chops, and physical prowess in a wild gambit of competitions to end all competitions. It's exploitative. It's exhausting. It's the worst of reality tv at its absolute finest.
True, while this concept would probably cause extreme controversy and lead to frequent mental breakdowns and even lawsuits if it was inflicted on any other demographic, such as the often-used starry-eyed teenage girls who are typically featured in reality television of this kind, the entire conceit of the show is clinched and made possible by the fact that the contestants are selected from one of the most rough-and-tough and resilient group of performers that have ever graced the stage: drag queens.
Dedicated to their craft, drag queens weather through harassment and public distaste on a daily basis, all while juggling a hefty array of skills that range from makeup and fashion expertise to the perfection of a magnetic stage presence. These are truly entertainers who must do it all, and who must exhibit these talents with a personal defense system and a confidence scarcely seen so thoroughly in any entertainment demographic that's had the privilege of being featured on television. Simply put, every competitor that arrives on the show is already a star in some capacity, a professional entertainer from the moment they walk into the sight of the camera.
This is no American Idol, where the editors and judges must tiredly comb through dozens of lackluster dreamers in order to consolidate a team of talent that hopefully makes for entertaining television. This is no America's Next Top Model, where a group of sensitive and inexperienced performers must stumble their way to a competitive skill level while being judged by an admittedly lukewarm panel of experts. Far from it, Drag Race raises the spectacle, drama, and entertainment value to eleven from the second that the title sequence rolls, and features a selection of hand-picked judges with their own hilarious and bombastic personalities topped onto a masterful understanding of fashion, stage presence, and performative power.
I hardly consider myself bold in saying that RuPaul is one of the best possible judges to conceivably helm Drag Race and commands the competition with a level of expertise, insight, and liveliness scarcely found in programs of a similar nature or structure. Simply put, this is a master entertainer putting on a shameless bitchfest of other master entertainers-to-be, and the guilty pleasure value that can be extracted from even passing moments of this show are simply sickening.
And lucky you: select seasons of Drag Race can be found on both Amazon Prime and Hulu. What's that? Don't have access or the motivation to either of these platforms? That's fine. A verifiable grand library of Drag Race best moments, spotlights, highlights, and mini-series is plastered all over YouTube, free of charge and just waiting for you to dial up the view count. So now you have absolutely no excuse to avoid or remain ambivalent to this beloved series when you somehow had the time to stumble your way towards this end of this silly little spotlight piece.
In fact, I am so confident that this show will draw you in and have you cackling right along with RuPaul herself, that I'll get you started with some essential moments from the series. Even if only to momentarily entertain yourself as you're lazing back in bed, or even to show some tiny modicum of support for the drag and LGBTQ community, please take a look at some of these moments and memes and try not to get sucked into the wonderful and wild world of televised drag. Go ahead. I dare you.
Just a few essential queens:
Biana del Rio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dph1rXUnlH4
Latrice Royale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcnJkFhf2yg
Adore Delano https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx6LQcGy6R4
Katya Zamolodchivoka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS-bD9lDJGw
Endless meme compilations:
"rpdr memes that i live by" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlnNt7D2OdA&list=PLD_KPbbwGGBLa84kR2rQ5dsEqp17O4tkf
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