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Pretty in pink – on steroids
by Louise Jolly| Brighton, UK
Friday, 29 June 2012
tags: consumer culture, culture, emergence
Queer femininity is now claiming a major place in popular culture, with stars like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj rising to quasi-messianic status with their millions of fans.
So why are they queer? It’s not just the obvious: that both leave their sexuality open and ambiguous, with Nicki Minaj even accommodating a gay male persona, Roman, amongst her host of alter egos (her animus, Jung might say).
It’s also that they’re both female drag queens – who push the constructedness of femininity to the point that its artifice becomes the main feature, rather than behind-the-scenes scaffolding. The idea is no longer to be pretty or sexy. Both Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga venture way beyond pretty – going into the domain of the comedic, the silly and the outright monstruous in the name of image construction and performance.
But the statements both artists perform under the banner of femininity go even further in troubling cultural norms. Neither rebel against femininity in a simple sense. We could instead call them ‘hyper-conformists’ – obeying cultural pressures on women to be glamorous and sexy, but taking those norms so literally, and carrying them so far, they end up imploding.
It’s interesting that both stars are loved by little girls. The Barbie-loving girls (Barbs) who follow Nicki Minaj get to see the ‘pretty in pink’ fantasy culture sells them – but steroidally pumped-up and overblown. It’s a queer aesthetic opening doors to the fantastical and rebellious possibilities at the heart of conformity itself.
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