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RuPaul: The Language Police Are 'Dumb AF'


The RuPaul's Drag Race host spoke out against his critics and revisited the show's 2014 T-word controversy.


RuPaul is finally addressing his critics.

In an interview published today on Vulture, the world's most famous drag queen -- who identifies as a gay man -- was asked to respond to the current "discourse on the internet," which was defined by the entertainment news site as "creating demarcations within language and saying you can, or cannot, say something."

The interviewer contrasts this attitude with drag culture, which the article contends has "always been about playing with language and taking it apart and blurring boundaries."

"It's stupid. They're dumb, and it's stupid," RuPaul responded. To illustrate his point, the Drag Race host said a statement such as "I love corn dogs" could be misinterpreted by those who "have an agenda" to mean something other than his intention, including a desire to have sex with or marry the food product.

"That's not what I meant and you actually know that's not what I meant and you're only using it because you have an agenda so that you could get attention for whatever reason you have," he said.

In 2014, RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality competition of drag performers, aired a controversial episode, in which contestants were asked to identify unknown persons as "female" or "shemale" based on close-up red carpet photographs of various body parts.

The challenge sparked a storm of controversy. Past contestants Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly-Hillz spoke out against the show with concerns of transphobic language, which in turn ignited a debate between members of the transgender and drag communities as to whether words like "shemale" and "tranny" were slurs. GLAAD, an LGBT media watchdog, defines both as "defamatory" terms that "dehumanize transgender people and should not be used in mainstream media."

The uproar led to an apology from the show's producers and the incidental removal of another segment from the show, "You've Got She-Mail," although RuPaul stuck to his guns, proclaiming in a radio interview, "I love the word tranny." In recent seasons, the audio of this segment has been replaced with RuPaul's signature laugh.

Vulture's interview does not mention the "shemale" challenge that incited this controversy. However, the reporter does ask RuPaul to weigh in on the "allegations of transphobia," as evidenced by She-Mail's removal.

"You know, I didn't do that," RuPaul responded. "The network did that, and you'd have to ask them why they did it, but I had nothing to do with that."

"So twist a phrase, curl a word, paint on a mustache," he continued. "We do not stand on ceremony, and we do not take words seriously. We do take feelings seriously and intention seriously, and the intention is not to be hateful at all. But if you are trigger-happy and you're looking for a reason to reinforce your own victimhood, your own perception of yourself as a victim, you'll look for anything that will reinforce that."

In addition, RuPaul called the relationship between the transgender and drag communities "a boring topic. ... We mock identity. They take identity very seriously. So it's the complete opposite ends of the scale."

When the reporter responded that the tension between drag and trans communities is "complicated, too," RuPaul pushed back and said it wasn't.

"Life is not to be taken seriously," he said. "Most people are dumb as fuck. If you look at their voting habits and their eating habits, you realize people are stupid. So we could talk about stupid people or we could just stay with smart people who know how to have fun and not even focus on what dumb people do. It's not worth it."

"I tell you this as someone who's a smart motherfucker: Don't waste your time fooling with dumb people or trying to figure them out or trying to educate them. It doesn't work. It's a lose-lose situation."

RuPaul also criticized "the Me Generation, the narcissistic generation needing to make their environment reflect who they think they are."

Citing Spike TV's Lip Sync Battle, he also outlined how the mainstream media appropriates queer culture.

Read the full interview here.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.