Monday, March 28, 2011

Bullying on RuPaul's Drag Race: The Difference Between Team Spirit and Bullying

So once again I find myself going totally fan-boy over RuPaul's Drag Race, season 3.

I love RuPaul's mentoring of the younger drag queens (as I've talked about in the past) and mostly, I love her kind spirit and wise sayings, like

"If you can't love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen in here?"

And I pretty much always say "Amen," or "That's right" or "Um-Hm!" right back at the TV when she says it.

But this season, amidst all the regular cattiness of a reality show where they eliminate a different contestant every week, there's been a disturbing clique thing happening that I feel has crossed the line from YAY us! to Boo them!

And that's really upsetting.

If you watch the show, you probably know I'm talking about how some of the contestants are referring to themselves as "the Heathers" - and they fancy themselves prettier and more talented and more popular than the group of other drag queens, who the Heathers refer to as "the boogers."

Now I know it might be nothing more in terms of intent than building team spirit, but I strongly feel that we in the GLBTQ community need to be clear about this:

Bullying is when people put down others to make themselves feel higher. But that's a false equation, and the only way you can really feel better about yourself is for who you are and what you do.

Raja (a "Heather")

As much as I admire Raja's sense of gender-bending style and approaching drag like art, I cringe when she pulls out the verbal knives and comes off as, well... a bully.

Delta Work (a "Heather")

And Delta Work was interviewed in the March 17, 2011 edition of Florida's gay Hot Spots magazine and when asked who she hopes wins says, "GOD I HOPE HEATHER MAKES IT."

Manila Luzon (a "Heather")

There are minorities on both sides of the Heather/Not-Heather divide, but to me it feels mean spirited and frankly a touch racist. Am I being too sensitive?

Alexis Mateo (not a "Heather")

Yara Sophia (not a "Heather")

Shangela (not a "Heather")

Maybe it's just that I'm hoping that "America's Next Drag Superstar" has a bit of that same wisdom and graciousness I see in RuPaul - not that she can't be sassy, but she's never a bitch.

I'm gonna keep on watching, but I gotta say, I'm hoping for some more kindness to be added to the mix. Because in my book, that's the magic quality of a real Queen.

What do you think? Are the Heathers just up for themselves, or are they being bullies?


ps - You can watch episodes of the show here and decide for yourself!


PiLibrarian said...

I haven't seen the show, but my first reaction is that they've staked out some serious "rhymes-with-witch" territory for themselves with the tag "Heathers" -- remember the movie? Not nice girls at all.

Grey said...

I haven't seen it either, but I've been seeing the term "Heather" popping up on twitter in regards to the show and couldn't for the life of me figure out what it meant. I'll have to watch some episodes and see what I think...

Maggie said...

While I haven't watched previous seasons regularly (I did catch random episodes), I have been watching this season. I definitely agree that there isn't team spirit, but at times it seems that everyone is catty and putting others down regardless of being a "Heather" or not. I don't know if you are being overly harsh as I've found in many reality competition shows, cliques and put downs happen. It's not good, but I think it happens when you throw a bunch of people into a competition especially one beauty or talent based where self-esteem issues may be more prevalent. Some will get along, and some won't and some will need to put down others in order to feel better. Possibly if some of the competition/challenges were changed to be more team/group oriented some of the bullying wouldn't happen?

Shawn said...

I liked the Heathers a lot better before they became "the Heathers." After the Heathers crap started, they came off as really stupid and sad - which I'm sure is not what they were trying to achieve at all. I was secretly rooting for Shangela, and now I'm not sure who I want to win. Maybe it will be whoever they bring back next week (I hope it's Stacy Layne Matthews myself).

Anonymous said...

I've watched RuPaul's Drag Race since season one, and there has always been a great divide between the girls. I think it's just part of the experience, I know I'm being just as harsh while watching it as they are being towards each other. I think you were being to harsh about the Heathers personally. There have been many instances where Shangela and Alexis have been catty, rude, and at times disgusting with what they say about the other girls. Raja had kept her comments for confessional until the end while Shangela was constantly "telling it like it is," causing all kinds of unnecessary tension. Plus, it makes for good television, if everyone was super nice and supportive with each other it wouldn't be nearly as fun, that's why there are so many different kinds of personalities on reality tv. Just a thought.