Juno Hearts’ wig is a wide waterfall of orange hair. She is wearing a dress full of giant pearls and her bra consists of two silver cloches. Juicy Andrews is also amazing in her red lobster dress with scissors. She falls magically down on stage, but the lobster woman is the winner of the first episode of Make Up Your Mind (RTL4).
In the Saturday evening show, famous Dutch people perform as drag queens. A panel, including Nikkie de Jager, has to guess who is hiding behind the disguises. Last year the pilot was a great success, with 2.2 million viewers and Peter R. de Vries in dragso RTL immediately ordered an entire season.
It’s an entertaining show, made with care and respect, with a lot of enthusiasm in the panel, and delightfully extravagant costumes. It is at most a bit too monotonous for seventy-five minutes of entertainment. The stunned reactions of the panel in particular have little variation.
The various references to the emancipatory importance of the show are remarkable. Panel member Fred van Leer to a candidate: “It is so important that men like you embrace this”. And another candidate: “I want to live in a world where there is color, where there are more birds of paradise, where everyone can be who they want to be.” Make Up Your Mind is not just entertainment; this is popular upliftment.
In their playful, extravagant acts, drag queens challenge traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity. In doing so, they not only contribute to the normalization of gays and trans people, but also to a gender-fluid world view. And when we realize that everyone is made up of masculine and feminine qualities, that can reduce inequality between men and women.
It remains confusing though: you mainly see expressions of the most traditional ‘feminine’ characteristics: high heels, gestures. The only time this episode is played with gender is when two dancers remove Juno Hearts’ bra cups, beneath which is a smooth man’s chest.
This show goes a step further than RuPaul’s Drag Racebecause well-known straight men participate – the ‘cooler’, the better – who drag bring it closer to the viewers. Of course it remains a one-time outing for them, after the show they just step back into their comfortable hetero life, so the many praises they get (“so brave!”) are also a bit exaggerated. Gay men and trans people who show up in women’s clothing are a lot braver.
Now I could build a bridge here to the documentary about Zelensky on Sunday on NPO2 (‘Anyone who also went through a dramatic metamorphosis is…’), but I can’t do that either. In this German documentary we see how the Ukrainian president started as a comedian and actor and thus rolled into the presidency. I would like to know more about the time before the Russian invasion, about his years as a comedian and his initially seemingly unsuccessful presidency.
But the documentary makers go as quickly as possible to the current Zelensky: the brave war leader who so skilfully plays the media and plays “the part of his life”. His relationship with the shady oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky is briefly touched upon, as is his letterbox company in the British Virgin Islands. But in general, the documentary remains too much of a saint’s life.
Not that they should detract from Zelensky’s fearless conduct against the Russian military. But it would be interesting to compare the difference in Zelensky’s perception before and after the Russian invasion. To show, indeed, his “dramatic metamorphosis.”
This column will be written by various authors until April 25.
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