The Evil Veil

I still think it would be positively wonderful to see a Drag Queen play a super villain. Like, Maleficent in the Disney film instead of Angelina Jolie. Jolie's a wonderful actress; she's proven herself in these dark, vixen-esque roles time and time again, but it would just mean so much more to me if it were an acclaimed drag queen. It would mean equality, in a sense.

To play the villain in a piece is such a coveted role. (Just consider Bette Davis for a minute.) But what is tied up with the villain in the plot is that the villain must be relatable in order to create optimal tension. This is why villains are often distorted mirror images of the protagonist, which the audience is already apt to relate to. When the hero is a white heterosexual male, the villain is also a white heterosexual male. When the heroine is a woman with superpowers, the villainess is a woman with superpowers too. This is all perhaps to avoid statements on superiority in gender, class, race, etc., when one classification triumphs over the other, but in this the "Good Triumphs Over Evil" value is lost. You can be African-American and evil. You can be both a drag queen and morally corrupt. People are multi-faceted as such this way. But the denial of this in popular culture is so incredibly stifling to me, and I find that when a person breaks through this wall, it is a success, not a downfall. 

What sparked this concern is that last night I was watching a clip of Jessye Norman singing Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix from Samson et Dalila. She is the enemy in the piece, as her love isn't a pure love for Samson—she's just going to sell him down the river later. But as villainess, she is so powerful that it is arresting; her facial expressions, which are nothing like the beauty of her voice, are so perfect for this role that it slays me. 

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that a woman as a being can be multi-faceted too; Shirley Varrett played the same role and it is clear that her primary mode of power is her sexuality. (It's totally fair; no question that Delilah seduced Samson.) But it is possible to be a woman and be unafraid of being unattractive. These are the roles in cinema and the characters in novels that are so much richer. 

To portray the villain in popular culture is a most coveted thing because equality must be implied first, or else society would be in an uproar. Imagine a film now where the villain is truly evil and a homosexual—wouldn't that just have you poising your pen to write GLAAD and HRC? It’s impossible. To create true tension, the audience member must be able to relate to the villain, and since the audience member has for so long merely been considered a white heterosexual male…well, soap box soap box. I would be very happy to see the day where a renowned Drag Queen would be playing the role of Maleficent instead of Angelina Jolie in a Disney film. To have a film like this, shot, cut, put on the shelves tomorrow—or even next year—it would be received as not family friendly. But someday. Someday, equality, in the form of a arch-nemesis who shaves her stubble before putting on her foundation, who leaves lipstick marks on her cup of coffee before causing mass peril over the town.