Friday, April 17, 2009
This week in class we watched a documentary film, Paris is Burning. It was made in 1990 by Jennie Livingston. The movie is a show all behind the scenes story of the fashion obsessed New York gay and transgender culture that created voguing and drag balls. It shows the stories of legendary drag queens and the upcoming legends of the new generation. At first, I did not know if a documentary could be a "cool" movie, I was also skeptical about the subject of the film. I did not know if I would classify dressing in drag would be cool, and I still don't know if I would call the drag outfits cool, and the way that they act wouldn't be considered cool, especially the arguments that were seen. Even though I don't know if that was cool, I do think that the way that each of the queens could do what they felt and had a place to be themselves. The idea of the different houses that the teenagers found to find understanding and a role model that they couldn't at home is a very cool idea. It is like the hippies of the 60s did, but these houses have different criteria to enter them, they are not just hang outs or hotels to the houses, they are families.
A large part of the movie is focused on "realness." In the movie they say that realness is the ability to pass for what they want to. In most cases, that is looking as much as a woman as possible. Some of the people in the movie were gender ambiguous. If I did not know that it was a male, I would not have been able to guess. And this could definitely be considered very cool. These people are being who they feel that they are, and this is cool to me because it is respectable. To be who you want to be and have a group of people to be there for you and understand you, no matter what, this is cool. However, there was another example of realness that I find less cool. The idea that real is being able to pass for something that you are not is less cool. The idea that if you can pass for what you are not, then you are a great actor, but if you are your not being yourself then I do not think that you are cool. The people like Pepper, Angie, Ninja, and the others that are who they are might be unique, but they are cool.