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On Camp + Capitalism at Oxford University

Added on by Nadine Friedman.

In June 2016, I spoke at Oxford University for the 15th International Brecht Society Symposium on how RuPaul is recycling Brechtian tenets, uniting politics, camp theory, capitalism and drag to change our media landscape. 

I enjoy examining how political and social issues can be embedded in pop culture, especially reality TV, a forum accurately understood as being as being cheap to produce, uncritical and shaping dangerous cultural narratives about people that are different from us- women, POC, the LGBTQ community, the working poor, the incarcerated... But RuPaul and Drag Race is turning reality TV into a new, visible realm of critical analysis, and doing it through Bertolt Brecht's Alienation effect. Brecht has always intrigued me, as I’m curious as to how the principles of Epic Theatre can be used practically in contemporary culture and media. He demanded we move from passive consumer of art to active, and RuPaul, an unlikely recycler, is using those principles to change the public agenda.

RuPaul's Drag Race is activating complacent reality Tv consumers, is stimulating what Brecht called for: "a desire for understanding, a delight in changing reality."

Check out the presentation here!

(And excuse the videographer's tilt...husbands.)