A few weeks ago, some exciting crossover news broke that RuPaul (and Raja) of Drag Race and drag fame were going to be featured on The Simpsons. That’s huge! For queer people, for the show, for entertainment: that’s all good news.
And then it aired last weekend. It wasn’t bad, no, but it illustrated something that the show is wont to do: copying former contestants to advance itself. RuPaul’s appearance not only meant a revised, Simpsons-ified version of “Glamazon” but co-opting catch phrases from both Laganja Estranga and Alaska Thunderfuck amongst others. Sure, yeah, okay: phrases like “Okurrrr” and “Byeeeee” are not unique to the aforementioned queens but we do have a televised lineage of things RuPaul says and does and her use of these phrases started happening after contestants brought them to the show. They are more than homage but slights and borderline appropriation. (Compared to the use of “honey” in the episode which just barely avoids being Stacy Layne Matthews’ iconic “henny.”) Yet when Marge makes wings appear from her waist by pushing down at her sides? The show vis a vis RuPaul are lifting Courtney Act’s schtick (despite the queen’s Tweeted approval).
Influences, one could say. What’s weird is that these queens get no shout out or commentary within the show, acknowledging their influence when these items are presented to mainstream (straight) audiences. It’s weird! And yet another form of RuPaul cannibalizing her children to advance herself. Why are we surprised? What’s strange and most disappointing is that the queen has lost her identity in her show, the way that Tyra lost her sense of self with Top Model. Such is the tragedy revealed with this crossover: RuPaul has become RuPaul™ – and anyone who steps near RuPaul™ is likely to have their best parts lifted, to make RuPaul™ bigger and better.
Watch a segment from the episode below to see for yourself. RuPaul is clearly trying to get herself to sashay away even further. (Especially since the episode in question kept wandering dangerously close to transphobia.)