Week 9: Paris is Burning (Joe Viola)

I have seen Paris is Burning several times, both for academic and outside reasons, and thus have experienced the film with the mindset of academia surrounded by fellow students, and also just for fun surrounded by peers of similar interests. The film certainly holds its “cult” values in both regards, and has been highly regarded in both situations, at least from my personal standpoint. I started to dissect this notion of viewership when reading Lucas Hilderbrand’s “Chapter 3: Love Hangover (Debates).” In it, he writes, “With whom you saw the film and to whom you talked about it afterward shaped how you saw it, and created a common groundwork fro thinking through a range of social issues” (120). This particular point was very interesting to me, as I noticed that both environments of viewership contained people that would most likely be in favor of or “fans” of the narrative and “characters” and aesthetics presented in the film. The environments being a film theory class and a group of friends who frequently watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, the viewers are certainly biased toward the content presented to them within the film.  So, it would be interesting to sit in a theatre of casual moviegoers, of the general public, and take note of what their reactions to the film may be. How they may digress or stay true to my initial experiences, how they may or may not question gender and performativity from then on, etc. is an interesting experiment of sorts to keep in mind.


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