Advertisement

Working and Werking: Queerness, Labour and Neoliberal Self-Branding in Reality TV

  • Michael Lovelock
Chapter

Abstract

Lovelock explores how reality TV has represented queer people as ‘ideal’ labourers within contemporary economies of neoliberalism and self-branding. Focusing on case studies including RuPaul’s Drag Race, How To Look Good Naked and Stut, this chapter argues that reality shows have animated queer histories based in resilience to heteronormative and racist marginalisation, such as the concept of ‘werking,’ and reconfigured these as routes of the creation of successful reality TV self-brands. Reality shows, Lovelock maintains, have probed the struggles inherent to being queer in a heteronormative world, only to idealise how queer people can seemingly ‘get over’ their experiences of marginalisation and mould their identities into neoliberal self-brands predicated upon the apparent dividends of being authentic in the face of marginalisation.

References

  1. Ahmed, S. (2004). The Cultural Politics of Emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, M. (2013). Butch Queens Up in Pumps: Gender Performance and Ballroom Culture in Detroit. Ann Arbour: The University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biressi, A., & Nunn, H. (2005). Reality TV: Realism and Revelation. London/New York: Wallflower Press.Google Scholar
  4. Braithwaite, L. (2016, February 1). The Prancing Elites: Prancing Towards Change. Retrieved from https://www.out.com/popnography/2016/2/01/exclusive-prancing-elites-prancing-towards-change
  5. Brown, W. (2005). Edgework: Critical Essays on Knowledge and Politics. Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cooke, R. (2007, November 4). In Gok We Trust. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2007/nov/04/fashion.features10
  7. Dovey, J. (2000). Freakshow: First Person Media and Factual Television. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  8. Duggan, L. (2002). The New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism. In R. Castronovo & D. Nelson (Eds.), Materializing Democracy: Towards a Revitalized Cultural Politics (pp. 174–195). Durham/London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Freeman, H. (2005, March 5). The Dresser. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2005/mar/05/shopping1
  10. Gamson, J. (2014). “It’s Been a While Since I’ve Seen, Like, Straight People”: Queer Visibility in the Age of Postnetwork Reality Television. In L. Ouellette (Ed.), A Companion to Reality Television (pp. 227–246). Oxford: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Genz, S. (2015). My Job Is Me: Postfeminist Celebrity Culture and the Gendering of Authenticity. Feminist Media Studies, 15(4), 545–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gill, R., & Elias, A. (2014). ‘Awaken Your Incredible’: Love Your Body Discourses and Postfeminist Contradictions. International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 10(2), 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Halberstam, J. (2011). The Queer Art of Failure. Durham/London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hall, S., & O’Shea, A. (2013). Common-Sense Neoliberalism. Soundings, 55, 9–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Halperin, D. (1995). Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kadir, J., & Tidy, J. (2013). Gays, Gaze and Aunty Gok: The Disciplining of Gender and Sexuality in How to Look Good Naked. Feminist Media Studies, 13(2), 177–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kavka, M. (2012). Reality TV. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lovelock, M. (2017). Call Me Caitlyn: Making and Making Over the ‘Authentic’ Transgender Body in Anglo-American Popular Culture. Journal of Gender Studies, 26(6), 675–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lovelock, M. (2018). Gay and Happy: (Proto-)homonormativity, Emotion and Popular Culture. Sexualities.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460718758666.
  20. McRobbie, A. (2009). The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. McRobbie, A. (2016). Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  22. Moore, M. (2012). Fierce: Performance, Creativity, and the Theory of the Fabulous Class. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Yale University, New Haven.Google Scholar
  23. Ouellette, L. (2012). America’ Next Top Model: Neoliberal Labour. In E. Thompson & J. Mittell (Eds.), How to Watch Television (pp. 169–176). New York/London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Ouellette, L., & Hay, J. (2008). Better Living Through Reality TV. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. Oxygen TV. (2015). Oxygen’s The Prancing Elites Project – Season 1 Marketing Campaign. Retrieved from http://shortyawards.com/8th/oxygens-the-prancing-elites-project-season-1-marketing-campaign
  26. Puar, J. (2007). Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Durham/London: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pullen, C. (2007). Documenting Gay Men: Identity and Performance in Reality Television and Documentary Film. London: McFarland.Google Scholar
  28. Richenthal, M. (2007, July 13). Carson Kressley to Host How to Look Good Naked. Retrieved from https://www.tvfanatic.com/2007/07/carson-kressley-to-host-how-to-look-good-naked/
  29. Ruti, M. (2017). The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects. New York: Colombia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sender, K. (2006). Queens for a Day: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and the Neoliberal Project. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23(2), 131–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Skeggs, B. (2001). The Toilet Paper: Femininity, Class and Mis-recognition. Women’s Studies International Forum, 24(3–4), 295–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Wan, G. (2010). Through Thick and Thin: My Autobiography. London: Ebury Press.Google Scholar
  33. Weber, B. (2009). Makeover TV: Selfhood, Citizenship, and Celebrity. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Weston, K. (1997). Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship. New York: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Woodstock, L. (2014). Tattoo Therapy: Storying the Self on Reality TV in Neoliberal Times. Journal of Popular Culture, 47(4), 780–799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Lovelock
    • 1
  1. 1.Ho Chi Minh CityVietnam

Personalised recommendations