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Old 15th December 2022, 09:43 AM   #1
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Difference between Blackface and Drag

I occasionally wonder why blackface is no longer acceptable, but drag still is.


Last edited by jimbob; 15th December 2022 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 15th December 2022, 09:46 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
I occasionally wonder why blackface is no longer acceptable, but drag still is.
I think the difference is that drag shows are not inherently misogynistic. If anything, they make more fun of men than women.
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Old 15th December 2022, 09:47 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
I occasionally wonder why blackface is no longer acceptable, but drag still is.
You can Google that if you want and read plenty of arguments on both sides. Nothing additional to glean here.
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Old 15th December 2022, 09:56 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Upchurch View Post
I think the difference is that drag shows are not inherently misogynistic.
Is blackface inherently misogynistic? Or inherently racist?

I mean, I know it's inherently offensive, but what it makes it more offensive than men dressing up as a caricature of womanhood?
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Old 15th December 2022, 10:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
Is blackface inherently misogynistic? Or inherently racist?

I mean, I know it's inherently offensive, but what it makes it more offensive than men dressing up as a caricature of womanhood?
It's odd that this is where the conversation has gone.

To me there's a huge difference between pretending to be of a completely different race and just dressing up in overly flamboyant clothing during an event.

If you don't find there to be any difference, go out wearing blackface. It's totally your choice.

ETA: I also generally don't find drag to be a "caricature of womanhood". It's just men wearing female clothing.
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Old 15th December 2022, 10:07 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
It's odd that this is where the conversation has gone.

To me there's a huge difference between pretending to be of a completely different race and just dressing up in overly flamboyant clothing during an event.
What's the huge difference between pretending to be of a completely different race and pretending to be of a completely different sex?
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Old 15th December 2022, 10:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
Is blackface inherently misogynistic? Or inherently racist?

I mean, I know it's inherently offensive, but what it makes it more offensive than men dressing up as a caricature of womanhood?
Blackface is inherently, and historically, very racist. Maybe it's just the historical context that is missing. It wasn't used to make fun of women.
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Old 15th December 2022, 10:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
What's the huge difference between pretending to be of a completely different race and pretending to be of a completely different sex?
As others have pointed out, there isn't a history of drag being used to insult, demonize or degrade women, unless there's something I don't know about.

I also don't think they're "pretending to be of a completely different sex", are they? I don't even know if most women I've met dress like most drag stars dress. It's more of a celebration of themselves than it is to hurt anyone else. If the same could be said about blackface, when it's used, then you'd be absolutely right.

As I previously said, feel free to dress up in blackface and explain your reasoning to those that call you out. Let me know when you do, I'd be interested in seeing the reactions.
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Old 15th December 2022, 11:43 AM   #9
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The difference between a drag show and a Dolly Parton concert is negligible for those not obsessed with genitalia.
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Old 15th December 2022, 12:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
As others have pointed out, there isn't a history of drag being used to insult, demonize or degrade women, unless there's something I don't know about.
I didn't know that the problem with blackface was the history of it being used to insult, demonize or degrade black people. I'm mainly familiar with The Black & White Minstrels where it did none of those things, yet it's still incredibly offensive if you watch it today.
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Old 15th December 2022, 01:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
I didn't know that the problem with blackface was the history of it being used to insult, demonize or degrade black people. I'm mainly familiar with The Black & White Minstrels where it did none of those things, yet it's still incredibly offensive if you watch it today.
The original minstrel shows would employ racial stereotypes as humor. Do I need to say any more?
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Old 15th December 2022, 01:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
I didn't know that the problem with blackface was the history of it being used to insult, demonize or degrade black people. I'm mainly familiar with The Black & White Minstrels where it did none of those things, yet it's still incredibly offensive if you watch it today.
Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
The original minstrel shows would employ racial stereotypes as humor. Do I need to say any more?
Yeah, Matthew Best, what you're familiar with, you were taking out of the greater historical context.
Quote:
The minstrel show, also called minstrelsy, was an American form of racist theatrical entertainment developed in the early 19th century. Each show consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music performances that depicted people specifically of African descent. The shows were performed by mostly white people wearing blackface make-up for the purpose of playing the role of black people. There were also some African-American performers and black-only minstrel groups that formed and toured. Minstrel shows caricatured black people as dim-witted, lazy, buffoonish, superstitious, and happy-go-lucky.

(source)
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Old 15th December 2022, 01:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
I didn't know that the problem with blackface was the history of it being used to insult, demonize or degrade black people. I'm mainly familiar with The Black & White Minstrels where it did none of those things, yet it's still incredibly offensive if you watch it today.
Looks like others got to it before I did, but there's a pretty good history channel article on it. The origins, per that article, are relatively unknown but they can be traced back, at least, to a Shakespeare play called Othello that was being performed in Europe.

All-in-all blackface was usually not just the face. They'd paint on big lips, or make their ears bigger. They'd act dimwitted and slow. It became more popular, conveniently, after emancipation because freed slaves wanting rights was not warmly welcomed.

I'll see if I can find a link to the article, I'm on a work PC right now and would prefer to not have that in my search history. I found it by googling "history of blackface" and it was the first link.
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Old 15th December 2022, 02:23 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
I'll see if I can find a link to the article, I'm on a work PC right now and would prefer to not have that in my search history. I found it by googling "history of blackface" and it was the first link.
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Old 15th December 2022, 02:39 PM   #15
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I didn't find that article, but I did find this, which was an interesting defence of drag against accusations from feminists that it is inherently misogynistic.

https://kar.kent.ac.uk/95442/2/Dept....ectionable.pdf
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Old 15th December 2022, 03:59 PM   #16
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I don't think that drag queens are trying to imitate women or make fun of them like maybe black face does. I think that's a big difference. They aren't pretending to be like any women I've ever met, though I don't have much experience with drag so maybe I'm wrong.
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Old 15th December 2022, 04:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Matthew Best View Post
Is blackface inherently misogynistic? Or inherently racist?
Cultural divide of the Atlantic Ocean.

Like you, I can't see how B&W Minstrels was offensive in any way*.

Is Olivier as Othello racist?

You didn't have the KKK in UK, and your cultural history of blackface isn't tainted like America's is, and since we all chose US hegemony, we're stuck with blackface being racist af.

*They're still on YouTube, unbelievably.
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Old 15th December 2022, 04:58 PM   #18
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I don't know that blackface is no longer acceptable.

The Rolling Stones have been popular and highly respected for decades. The Beatles are an institution. Eric Burdon's records still sell very well I hear. I might mention Eminem, practically every white female singer since Dusty Springfield, practically every American teenage boy. Did I miss anyone? Lots probably.

Seems to me that as long as you resist the urge to reach for the actual boot black, blackface is perfectly respectable.
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Old 15th December 2022, 05:05 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Is Olivier as Othello racist?
The most common answer to that these days, is "yes!".

Not intentionally of course, but then again neither was Al Jolson. He felt he was expressing solidarity. He helped African Americans get past the colour bar by saying that if a theatre wanted him they had to also include black acts.

So I don't think blackface is inherently racist
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Old 15th December 2022, 05:40 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Is Olivier as Othello racist?
On the one hand, the play doesn't reinforce or propagate negative racial stereotypes. On the other, why not cast Portier?


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Old 15th December 2022, 07:21 PM   #21
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Difference between Blackface and Drag

If you don't know...
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Old 16th December 2022, 08:10 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
If your boss hears from IT and wants to talk to you about it, just say you were planning something spectacular for the office Xmas party.
Well, I do networking for the city I live in, so technically I suppose I could go through the effort of hiding it but....meh.

Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Cultural divide of the Atlantic Ocean.

Like you, I can't see how B&W Minstrels was offensive in any way*.

Is Olivier as Othello racist?

You didn't have the KKK in UK, and your cultural history of blackface isn't tainted like America's is, and since we all chose US hegemony, we're stuck with blackface being racist af.

*They're still on YouTube, unbelievably.
Would you dress up in blackface if us damned Americans didn't, somehow, make it racist? Have you spoken with PoC to see if THEY view B&W Minstrels as offensive? I'm fine with you blaming it on the US, because I view blackface being racist af and not something people do as a net positive. You must not? For some reason?
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Old 16th December 2022, 09:19 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I don't know that blackface is no longer acceptable.

The Rolling Stones have been popular and highly respected for decades. The Beatles are an institution. Eric Burdon's records still sell very well I hear. I might mention Eminem, practically every white female singer since Dusty Springfield, practically every American teenage boy. Did I miss anyone? Lots probably.

Seems to me that as long as you resist the urge to reach for the actual boot black, blackface is perfectly respectable.
So, if you redefine "blackface", everyone is doing it?
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Old 16th December 2022, 11:31 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
Would you dress up in blackface if us damned Americans didn't, somehow, make it racist?
Funnily enough, I did when I was a kid in the 1960s. Our class was doing a play that called for a black dude with a spear, so I got covered in some crap that made me dark brown.

Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
Have you spoken with PoC to see if THEY view B&W Minstrels as offensive?
Did you know "PoC" in itself is loaded? 1 2

And is there a specific colour I should be checking with? I'm kinda light brown - my father's WWII nickname was "Darkie" - Chinese friends of mine object to be referred to as coloured, and I know a couple of Saffers who detest the word since it was used as a racial division in South Africa.

We don't have more than a handful of black people in NZ, but we have shiploads of brown ones and none of them had a problem with B&W Minstrels. I'll check with Hone Harawira, because I'm sure he'll think it's racist.

Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
I'm fine with you blaming it on the US, because I view blackface being racist af and not something people do as a net positive. You must not? For some reason?
I view it the same as people like Bay Once and that stupid Kardashian slapper trying to look white, or the Indians* who use whitening creams.

In other words, I think there are a lot bigger fish to fry.

*Indians from India, not the Native American people.
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Old 16th December 2022, 11:53 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Funnily enough, I did when I was a kid in the 1960s. Our class was doing a play that called for a black dude with a spear, so I got covered in some crap that made me dark brown.
Yup, things that were acceptable a long time ago, or in different areas, aren't acceptable today. No real surprise there.

Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
Did you know "PoC" in itself is loaded? 1 2
Yes, I've seen the articles. I use the term because it's what my friends, who are of many colors, requested that I use. I use the term out of politeness for them. If you'd like me to use something different when specifically referring to you, then let me know. I'm cool like that.

Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
And is there a specific colour I should be checking with?
I feel like this is kind of obvious but I would ask the specific color of people whom are offended by others mockingly dressing up as their race, then acting stupidly?

Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
I'm kinda light brown - my father's WWII nickname was "Darkie" - Chinese friends of mine object to be referred to as coloured, and I know a couple of Saffers who detest the word since it was used as a racial division in South Africa.
...ok.

Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
We don't have more than a handful of black people in NZ, but we have shiploads of brown ones and none of them had a problem with B&W Minstrels. I'll check with Hone Harawira, because I'm sure he'll think it's racist.
Ok, then it sounds like perhaps the community you live in is different. I would say feel free to dress up in blackface then. Have fun with it, if that's your thang, shake it how you wanna.

Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
I view it the same as people like Bay Once and that stupid Kardashian slapper trying to look white, or the Indians* who use whitening creams.

In other words, I think there are a lot bigger fish to fry.

*Indians from India, not the Native American people.
Of course there are bigger fish to fry. There are always bigger fish to fry. Especially, in this case, with regards to how it's viewed in your neck of the woods. It seems like it makes no difference to anyone in your community, and wearing blackface means **** all to anyone. So, rock it out. I know Iceland has a festival around it. I see articles about how activists have taken issue with a "Black Pete" in the Netherlands.

Long story short, if it isn't an issue where you live, then it's not an issue. Do you.
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Old 16th December 2022, 11:06 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by ZirconBlue View Post
So, if you redefine "blackface", everyone is doing it?
Not everyone, no.

But the only difference between what Al Jolson was doing and what Mick Jagger was doing was the black greasepaint.
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Old 16th December 2022, 11:18 PM   #27
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My mom and her friends attended drag shows in the 70s and 80s. While some acts were silly/farcical, from her reports most were sincere homages to celebrities, particularly singers. I therefore think that the biggest difference between drag and blackface - besides historical context - is specificity.

I've never gone to a drag show but that's more down to the interests of my peer group. We spent our 20s playing bar games (darts and pool) when out and board games/RPGs when in. Nerdsville.
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Old 17th December 2022, 05:45 AM   #28
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I have been to a few drag shows, but I'm not really a fan.

I remember back in the early 80's the right ons worried that drag was ideologically unsound and there were a few attempts at ideologically sound drag which was mostly as awful as it sounds. There was one act from the new wave of British drag which was OK - Bloolips. Otherwise traditional drag went on despite the right ons.

It's funny that in the early 80's the people trying to cancel drag were who might today be referred to as 'woke' or 'politically correct' and today the people trying to cancel drag are the far right.
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Old 17th December 2022, 06:38 AM   #29
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I'm a bit conflicted on this one. I've been a huge fan of Hinge and Bracket, and frankly these two would have been just as hilarious if it had been two women doing the sketches. (I didn't actually realise they were men in drag when I started watching it, and then the penny dropped. It didn't drop with my dad until later, because I remember him saying "Hey, that's two men" and me being all, "well dad have you just realised?" when I hadn't realised myself at first.)

I like Barry Humphries being Dame Edna too. I also like Le Gateau Chocolat, and he is much more the female cariacature mincing around, but somehow it's funny, beard and all. I note all of these acts involve classical music, which may say something.

But I have seen some very nasty, very hurtful, very deliberate anti-woman drag acts that are no better than some bloke blacking up to make fun of the picaninnies.
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Old 17th December 2022, 07:55 AM   #30
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I recall reading long ago that one of the motivations for the homosexual drag scene was along the lines of being “in your face” to heterosexual haters…

“You think I want to be a woman? I’ll show you a woman!” And the portrayal in drag shows is almost always of an extremely over-the-top caricature of womanhood.
Not denigrating to women, but rather denigrating to “cisgender” men who have entirely the wrong idea of what homosexual men are all about.

And this is quite different from the theatrical portrayal… Where for centuries only men were allowed on stage, and took the female parts…. Or done as a comedic turn which has also been common for a very long time. (I see that the musical version of “Some Like It Hot” is currently very popular on Broadway….)
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Old 17th December 2022, 08:03 AM   #31
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What if a guy did blackface in drag? Do the two cancel each other out or does it become doubly bad?
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Old 17th December 2022, 08:51 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I have been to a few drag shows, but I'm not really a fan.

I remember back in the early 80's the right ons worried that drag was ideologically unsound and there were a few attempts at ideologically sound drag which was mostly as awful as it sounds. There was one act from the new wave of British drag which was OK - Bloolips. Otherwise traditional drag went on despite the right ons.

It's funny that in the early 80's the people trying to cancel drag were who might today be referred to as 'woke' or 'politically correct' and today the people trying to cancel drag are the far right.
I’m from that generation of protesting and whilst I have always understood the roots of drag in the gay scene I was never a fan of it because of what I often thought was misogyny, looking back I think most of that was more down to the fact most drag acts on the scene were terrible entertainment. Thankfully in the 1980s that did start to change and we started to see better quality acts emerging, probably the best known example in the UK being Paul O’Grady’s Lilly Savage - a very, very funny “drag” character.
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Old 17th December 2022, 09:20 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Mike! View Post
What if a guy did blackface in drag? Do the two cancel each other out or does it become doubly bad?
Leave Wendy Williams alone!!
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Old 17th December 2022, 09:47 AM   #34
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I think the motivation of the drag performers is not that important. Probably the Black and White Minstrels weren't intending to make fun of black people, or even realised they were a cariacature. I don't think Laurence Olivier was deliberately being racist when he played Othello. The point is that black people were genuinely hurt and upset by these acts.

In the same way, if women are genuinely hurt and upset by anything from Widow Twankey to Les Dawson, then it's their voice that matters.
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Old 17th December 2022, 10:01 AM   #35
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Nobody does blackface unwillingly. Some people cross dress out of compulsion.

Some guys do drag for fun or profit.

See my location? I could blacken and walk around all day unnoticed. If I wanted to.
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Old 17th December 2022, 03:10 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by plague311 View Post
Yes, I've seen the articles. I use the term because it's what my friends, who are of many colors, requested that I use.
I find using the term "people" and not even mentioning colour works pretty well.

The longer we base language on racial differences, the more we cement them.
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Old 18th December 2022, 08:39 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
In the same way, if women are genuinely hurt and upset by anything from Widow Twankey to Les Dawson, then it's their voice that matters.
If Muslims are genuinely upset by The Satanic Verses or Charlie Hebdo . . .

If Christians are genuinely upset about a Black Mass . . .

If Native American activists are genuinely upset about Squaw Creek . . .
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Old 18th December 2022, 11:35 AM   #38
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Yes.
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Old 18th December 2022, 02:18 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I'm a bit conflicted on this one. I've been a huge fan of Hinge and Bracket, and frankly these two would have been just as hilarious if it had been two women doing the sketches. (I didn't actually realise they were men in drag when I started watching it, and then the penny dropped. It didn't drop with my dad until later, because I remember him saying "Hey, that's two men" and me being all, "well dad have you just realised?" when I hadn't realised myself at first.)

I like Barry Humphries being Dame Edna too. I also like Le Gateau Chocolat, and he is much more the female cariacature mincing around, but somehow it's funny, beard and all. I note all of these acts involve classical music, which may say something.

But I have seen some very nasty, very hurtful, very deliberate anti-woman drag acts that are no better than some bloke blacking up to make fun of the picaninnies.
I raised this issue a little while ago in another thread. As a woman I do find some drag acts demeaning women. They are caricatures, hyper sexualised, over glamourised. I do think drag will one day be seen as similar to black face. The group in power (men) are demeaning those who lack power (women). Why do women have to be portrayed as sexual objects?

However, I agree there are performers such as Dame Edna, or Hinge and Brackets or Miss Fritton in St. Trinian's that I don't find offensive. Perhaps the comedy and the focus on character rather than sexuality is what makes them less offensive to me. There is an element of drag that merges into Burlesque. The main difference general being that it is usually women portraying women in
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Old 18th December 2022, 02:26 PM   #40
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Geraldine anyone?

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