Every year for the past 7 years, audiences all over the world wait with baited breath for Her Majesty RuPaul to announce America’s Next Drag Superstar. For those of you out there not familiar with the show or the title, its not difficult to pass it off as just another sensationalized reality show that in the long run, doesn’t mean squat. The closing of the season results in the abrupt end of the contestants’ 15 minutes of fame and a trip back to the mundane reality of their distinctly unglamorous lives.
Nothing matters; it is simply another moneymaking ploy that does little more than to keep audiences distracted for 45 minutes a week. I mean, who even remembers the winners (much less, any of the other contestants) from America’s Next Top Model? Do they even still exist? And let’s not even get started on Project Runway – I mean, the only guy we actually remember was a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race for God’s sake (we love you, Santino.)
For those of you who would immediately jump to that conclusion, I am here to tell you why you are so deeply wrong. I’ve touched upon RuPaul’s Drag Race in previous articles, but I feel that the finale of the most recent season is the best platform to discuss the show’s ability to seriously impact people’s lives far beyond the end. And I’m not just talking about the contestants, or the LGBT community, or the drag community at large.
I truly believe everybody, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, who sits down to watch RuPaul comes out an objectively better (and happier!) person. Just like how a healthy dose of exercise paired with a balanced diet is imperative for a sound body and mind, engaging with RuPaul feeds the spirit.
The ‘Drag Race’ crown represents so much more than winning a televised competition. The winner makes a yearlong commitment to helm the vanguard against a world of prejudice, hate and intolerance through a performance art that has posed a historical paradox for centuries. On one hand, it has been celebrated through the original thespians of Shakespeare’s landmark plays that shaped modern literature and theater as we know it.
On the other, it has posed an ideological threat to oppositional gender binaries that have been accepted as indisputable truths by society at large. Living in the 21st century, the great minds of our generation have exposed the flawed system of oppositional organization (“man/woman”) and have offered that rather than a biological, innate construct, our gender identities are shaped through environmental factors that have little to nothing to do with our bits down there and who we like to kiss.
Without getting too much into a post-structuralist circle jerk, renowned feminist and gender studies philosopher Judith Butler has characterized drag as the ultimate subversive art, and encourages everyone everywhere to try it, or at least understand it as symbolic of gender’s performative qualities. In other words, drag is the healthiest practice when it comes to unlocking hidden potential, and understanding that your identity does not have to be confined to strict gender expectations that have fundamentally no basis in reality.
Essentially, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race is a spokesperson for everybody who has ever felt isolated, weird and anonymous (which is, surprisingly, most of us). She stands as a symbol of the changing tides of our society that has for so long interpreted deviations from ‘the norm’ as repugnant and depraved. The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race not only slays the intricate balance of Criticism Uniqueness Nerve and Talent, but becomes the poster child for a society that is slowly beginning to appreciate the peculiarities, differences and idiosyncrasies that make us, well, us.
With the title comes a great deal of responsibility, and rather than a 45 minute TV special where she is showered with glitter, greased up naked men and unicorns, the winner assumes a full time profession that is based on embracing and loving yourself and actively trying to pass that message to as many people as possible. Without further ado, we are pleased to announce Violet Chachki as the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7!
After a month of tough competition, Violet has emerged victorious and claimed the crown from last year’s winner, Bianca Del Rio, and is ready to usher in yet another year of total f***ng fabulousness. With guests like Miley Cyrus cheering on the sidelines, RuPaul’s Drag Race has penetrated the mainstream and has become endorsed by celebrities who embrace difference, rather than reject it.
In her own words, Violet represents the past, present and future of drag – Her style of drag is 1950s cabaret meets polished space cadet meets high society glamazon, with a little bit of “If Tim Burton had a younger brother who also made movies but they were less creepy but still off-putting” sprinkled in there. Compared to the other competitors, her sense of style is unmatched and truly unique – the judges have often remarked that her drag is surprisingly put together and well established for somebody in their early twenties.
At the start of the season, many of the other queens claimed she came off as somewhat arrogant and callous – but Violet bloomed, and oh did she defy our expectations. A sweet young queen with a truly inspiring work ethic, Violet Chachki brought it every single episode and still had time to make friends and win our hearts along the way. In all 7 seasons of Drag Race, there has not been a single RPDR winner that has made fan opinion do such a drastic 360 – during one of the first few episodes, she was voted “shadiest queen” by the other queens, which almost certainly made her reevaluate her behaviour and open up, while still managing to be the fiercest bitch of all the lands.
There is no doubt that Violet will carry on the legacy of RPDR and make Mama Ru proud. As usual, RuPaul has made the right decision and we are excited to see how the next group of queens will live up to Violet’s legacy. Violet has a difficult but incredible year a head of her, and there is no doubt in our minds that she will continue to educate through entertainment.
The mainstream exposure of queens like Violet is integral in the process of creating a more tolerant society that is willing to accept and appreciate things that seemingly go against the grain of normality. Rather, Violet and the other queens are instrumental in expanding the definition of normality and showing the world that there is nothing threatening about drag. The only ‘threat’ is to the archaic notion that gender is a solid, unchangeable phenomenon that defines who we are. And honestly? We’re more than happy to be rid of that idea. Well done Violet, you definitely “CAME THRRRROOOOUGH!”