Monday, April 23, 2012

Paris is Burning... Paris is Always Burning

Paris is Burning Poster
Jenny Livingston documentary shows the complexity of gender theory; it's difficult to synthesize the complexity of Paris is Burning and the Ball Culture (whose not only a phenomenon of New York City, but rather a  movement where experienced "mothers" or "fathers" of different drag houses give hospitality and stability to young gay men who are at risk). Gender and ethnicity are major components on this documentary that's set on the 1980 and follow the lives of a large group of different drags performances through the Ball circuit of NYC; even 22 years later and 26 years after the documentary was filmed and released it still have validness because the issues between gender, culture, religion and sexuality still collides even after a major set of changes in civil rights and how the media as well social networks to show a more humane side of the LGTBQ culture, and is not easy for a younger generation much of the time to be at peace with their own selves as it was shown in the movie 22 years ago.

The complexity of gender goes beyond the typical archetypes as many people know, even it goes so far beyond the basic understanding many people has about the adjectives of how people can identify themselves such as butch, queer, trans, bi, femme, lipstick, etc... gender is such a wonderful yet subversive element of humanity because we tend to play by the rules set by society and the people who dare to the defy the heteronormative that rules many societies they tend to be seen as strange or aggressive against the norm, but probably we have sleep and become conformist with the norm on how people should act in society without going on a lewd behavior but rather showing how they really are without any necessity of hiding themselves.

Paris is always going to be on fire, because there is always some kind of revolution, artistic, sexual, social, whatever, there is always going to be some kind of revolution that will keep the flame on, but what is amazing about this piece of art it's the treaty of the characters, where behind all the glamour they try to project they show an alienated side where they don't feel appreciated by the society they live because they are not white, straight and successful; they feel that in order to fit in they have to be white but their alienation comes in part of the elitist society that was sold during the 1980's because of shows as Dallas or Dynasty where white Americans were shown as successful, thus leaving on a side the minorities. Probably one reason of the alienation comes with the media, let's take a note on television shows: Dynasty, Dallas, Charles in Charge, Family Ties, Growing Pains where they were popular with the mainstream and they showed succesfull white Americans; now let's take a look on Good Times, Charlie & Co, Gimme a Break, Diff'rent Strokes among others who were in the mainstream but showed weak black Americans who were mostly located on the ghetto or being employed by affluent white people. Thus showing a normative where made several Afro and Latinos excluded and trying to find the examples on how to be successful on a very hostile society. 


The flames are always there; but, it's amazing to think even after all this time, Paris it's still burning because there is always going to be someone who create a chapter in the history of the underground culture of the balls and LGTBQ rights, but overall characters, people such as Angie Xtravaganza, Venus Xtravaganza, Willi Ninja, Dorian Corey and Pepper LaBejia are always going to be there because of the influence they created through their lives, even if they ended in tragedy because of phobia, AIDS, murder. They showed a reality that even 26 years later still exist and not matter where it is, there is always going to be a Paris that is burning.

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