The Outsider- Not the man in drag...


According to Aitken, Lukinbeal, and Robertson, "The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" celebrates the fluidity of gay and trans identities and is at the very same time a very gender conservative movie - reinforcing white male supremacy and misogeny in the characters of Mitzie, Felicia and Bernadette. How do you see this working in "The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert"? Select one scene and analyze. How does this affect you as the spectator?

The most potent scene in which we see Mitzie, Felicia and Bernadette reinforcing the white male supremacy and misogeny that exists in their world is when they stand by while watching Bob's wife "perform" at the bar. Although Aitken, Lukinbeal and Robertson all explore the idea of fluidity within the identities of these characters, there are very clear moments (like this scene) where the white man is NOT the outsider- even if he's dressed in drag. Their performance begins and is clearly not received with any excitement or support, but is also not against any real opposition with the crowd. It's uncomfortable but not impossible to work with. When they no longer have the attention of the audience is when Bob's wife (an Asian woman) steals the show and basically performs for men to stare at her bizarre tricks and sexual moves. Instead of objecting in any way or leaving or standing up against white male misogeny that is occurring in the room, the three characters stand on the side and watch and their presence actually reinforces the act that she is putting on. It separates this Asian woman as even more of an outsider than the three white men in drag and puts the characters of Mitzie, Felicia and Bernadette above that of this woman. For me as a spectator, it didn't really register that way until after the movie but the difference between the audience looking at the white men in drag versus the Asian woman in a lewd outfit was very clear when watching the movie and the fact that they stayed and watched was especially bizarre to me. There was also the scene with the native people where the white men imposed their act upon the people who were there and the native people assimilated to the show that was going on. All very interesting, that's for sure.


THank you for talking about this scene. I thought the entire portrayal of the Cynthia character was disturbingly racist. From the fetishization of Asian women as a deviant sexuality, to the vaguely "oriental" music that played in the background of her hysterical scene, and the way she spoke everything about her was like a one-dimensional racist joke.

Can you believe that I have not seen this movie yet! I am so behind, but ever since the winter break and then the Spring break, I have been travelling and trying to find time for everything.And that is why I can't take part in your vivid discussion of the scene you are commenting on, but from reading your and the other comments, I am getting really eager to watch it. I usually do not like racism in any of its forms or fashions and that is why am really curious to see for myself how these scene plays out. Thanks for bringing my attention on it!

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This page contains a single entry by Spalding published on November 10, 2011 5:11 PM.

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