‘No one is trash, no one is garbage, no one is cancelled’ : the cultural politics of trauma, recovery and rage in RuPaul’s Drag Race

Ferreday, D. (2020) ‘No one is trash, no one is garbage, no one is cancelled’ : the cultural politics of trauma, recovery and rage in RuPaul’s Drag Race. Celebrity Studies, 11 (4). pp. 464-478. ISSN 1939-2397

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Historically, Drag Race has mobilised stories about homophobia, family violence, racism and femmephobia that produce drag as a technology of recovery: a means of rising above trauma, in line with media scholarship on the centrality of personal trauma narratives in reality TV. Queer scholars have argued that this imperative to tell positive stories silences more melancholic, ‘negative’ voices; of the tension between the need to speak of ‘damage’, and a ‘related and contrary desire to affirm queer existence’. Seen as the embodiment of the histrionic, dramatic drag queen villainess and dubbed ‘the whistle-blower of the season’, Season 10 queen The Vixen subverted familiar trauma narratives, engendering an opening up around narratives of trauma, racism and transmisogyny. This paper examines The Vixen’s absence and her re-emergence on social media, reading her viral tweet declaring ‘no-one is cancelled’ as a provocation that unsettles dominant accounts of mental health, survival and trauma. I argue that in speaking up for the ‘trash, garbage and cancelled’ subject, The Vixen speaks to Heather Love’s call for a queer politics that consider injury as something that might be ‘lived with, not necessarily fixed’. In this sense, her flawed star persona resonates with a mad scholarship that constituting a productive mad and queer politics of vulnerability.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Celebrity Studies
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Celebrity Studies on 20/05/2020, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19392397.2020.1765101
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? rupaul’s drag raceblack ragepersonal traumaqueer existencecelebrity damagecultural studies ??
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Deposited On:
24 Jul 2020 13:20
Last Modified:
19 Jun 2024 00:35