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sarahcollins's picture

Tuesday's discussion

This was the first time I've read Butler, and I liked her analysis a lot, to the extent that I understood it. I'd like to clarify what I said in class about "reality" and how it contributed to Venus' death. I believe Butler would say that there is no reality, only the rules by which the members of the drag contests judge "realness", (what Butler's metaphorical policeman and Livingstone's diegetic shots of "real" white people consider normal), which is to say every hegemonizing rule that restricts their dreams of becoming legendary and happiness to the drag hall. This is why it's so complicated to say whether what they are doing is subversive are not: are they merely perpetuating the constructions put in place by heterosexual culture? Or are they somehow repeating them to hyperbole by “mastering” them and forcing the interpellation machinery to break down? Although Venus "denaturalized" sex, she didn't disrupt expectations for what a "woman" means and still desired the house in the burbs and a providing husband.


Also, one of the most interesting points Butler makes is that not all drag is automatically subversive, and on the contrary, it acts as a "ritualistic release for a heterosexual economy that must constantly police its own boundaries against the invasion of queerness" (126) (it sounds so primitive!) I wish we could’ve spent more time on these three sources, Tuesday didn't feel long enough. 


After reading hooks' reaction to the "spectaclization" (?) of the drag balls and the bit about how synagogue- or Catholic church-goers would feel if a group of tourists from Harlem walked in to observe them, I was reminded of Simone de Beauvoir's line on how someone who "belongs" can be Otherized by traveling to a new country and becoming the foreigner. 


I was really surprised by how the "reading" excerpt pulled from Butler was applied to literature and texts, since I thought it was just slang for how to dress down and insult someone on their inability to pass as “real”, but it raises interesting questions when it's used as a critique for Livingstone's film. 


I'm excited about the Katie's Canon discussion!


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