Fifteen Seconds of Fame: Rupaul’s Drag Race, Camp, and ‘Memeability’

Mercer, John and Sarson, Charlie (2020) Fifteen Seconds of Fame: Rupaul’s Drag Race, Camp, and ‘Memeability’. Celebrity Studies. ISSN 1939-2397

Essay 7 15 Seconds of Fame.pdf - Accepted Version

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In this article, we argue that the campy affectations of contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR) serve as the perfect vehicle through which GIFs and memes can be created and have the potential to go viral online. RPDR relies heavily on social media for its success, and we claim that the queens who go on to establish a celebrity persona beyond the show are often the ones who fully exploit this relationship by condensing themselves into self-branded caricatures. These simplified personas, with their distinctive phrases, quirks and idiosyncrasies, can be easily captured and expressed in short GIFs, clips and memes. We argue that memeability – that is, having a persona that lends itself to becoming a meme that in turn acts as a mechanism in the production of stardom – is the online celebrity’s equivalent of charisma in the social media age. In this article, by drawing on queens from RPDR such as Miss Vanjie and Alyssa Edwards, we assert that virality and memes have become part of the celebrity- making process, as well as a vehicle to enable brand collaborations and capitalization.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
7 March 2020Accepted
27 May 2020Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: RuPaul’s Drag Race, camp, memes, virality, celebrity, Miss Vanjie, MET Gala
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham Institute of Media and English > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: John Mercer
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2020 10:06
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:17

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