Paris is burning

Parisis burning

1.What does family mean to the subjects in the documentary?

Accordingto the documentary directed by Jennie Livingstone, the family is usedto signify those people who feel the absence or void of a subjectafter being rejected by their own family. The rejection occurswhen the people in question are considered to be gay, transgendermen, and women or butch queens. In addition, family to the subjectsin the documentary are those people who accept them and share mutualbonds after they have been abandoned by their families (Livingstone,1990).

2.How are the balls an expression of freedom and power?

“Balls”is an expression of freedom and power because it provided thesubjects a platform where they are recognized and rewarded.Ordinarily, the subculture of gay, transgender men, women andbutch queens are ignored and silenced outside the confines of ballpageantry. However, the “Ball” gave them an opportunity to be inthe spotlight, get the fortune, fame, and stardom. It brought themcomfort as well as developing their careers regardless of the area ofinterest (Livingstone,1990).

3.What is “realness”? Why is it valued in this subculture?

Realnessin the documentary can be described as a situation where thesubculture which is composed of transgender men and women, gays andbutch queens can act, behave and carry themselves like normal orstraight men or women (Livingstone,1990).Realness is valued in this subculture because it would help them hidewhat they really are, for instance, gays and thus earning them bettertreatment from other members of the society.

4.What are examples of how this subculture has developed its ownlanguage and traditions?

Inthe documentary, this subculture has developed its own language andtraditions. For instance, Vogue represents a form of a dance wherebythe participants pose in glamorous positions. Also, the house is usedto mean a street gang. The subcultures traditions include fashionshows, body building as well as intense competitions (Livingstone,1990).

5.How does the film expose social problems faced by thesemarginalized Americans?

(Racism,homophobia, AIDS, poverty)

Inthe film, the marginalized Americans are discriminated they arepublicly harassed, rejected by their families and also finddifficulties in securing employment opportunities (Livingstone,1990).Besides, these marginalized Americans are normally killed for beinggays or transgender people.

6.Do you think the film portrays the ball culture as copying orchallenging the mainstream culture?

Idon’t think that the film portrays the ball culture as a copy ofthe mainstream culture. This is because the documentary gives morefreedom of expression to the subculture and has a lot of similaritiesto fashion and modeling compared to the mainstream culture. On thesame note, the ball culture is challenging to the mainstream culturesince it represents a scenario whereby the marginalized Americans andsubculture groups are willing to accept what they are and bethemselves (Livingstone,1990).


LivingstoneJ. (Director). (1990). Parisis Burning. NewYork: United States of America.