Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Paris is Burning is a documentary that highlights the drag culture of the New York Balls. The documentary is ground breaking. I liked that it picked such a controversial subject as drag queens to highlight. The style of the documentary reminds me of The Office and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

The Office imitates the documentary style of television series. They have fixed camera angles, refer to the camera crew and have interviews. The style of film is worked into the comedy. The writers base the show around the premise of documentary style and try to build characters off of that idea. For example Michael Scott is constantly aware of the camera and is constantly pursuing the audience to think of him in a certain way. He likes to make himself appear to be a good boss, caring friend and a responsible adult, but in all reality he is probably one of the most useless people on the face of the planet. I love the show for their documentary style. I think it adds character and wit to the premise of the show.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a hilarious mockumentary about a high school beauty pageant. The story is really funny because they are doing the filming like a documentary but they are also trying to poke fun at the northern white trash stereotype. I think the movie’s biggest laugh is when the mom gets her hand melted around a beer can. The highlight of this film I think is the importance people place on being beautiful. It tries to show that beautiful is really ugly and vice versa.

Another aspect of Paris is Burning that I really do like is that it is right up in your face. You have no room to try to sidestep the issues of the day. By placing a face and background to drag queens it forces people to face their stereotypes of others. Another documentary film-maker that tries to do this is Michael Moore. I don’t really like all of his movies but he is attempting to do what few will. He is questioning the status quo and challenging individuals to look past the media and dig for the truth. I am not saying he is an advocator of truth but he has inspired me more than once to check the facts. Another that is challenging this is Morgan Spurlock. The movie Super Size Me challenged my views on fast food and the harmful effects of it. In just a month he was at risk of organ failure from just eating McDonald’s food.


  1. I have to admit, when I first saw your post, I thought you were comparing Paris is Burning to a mockumentary in content, and I was going to have to throttle you. So imagine my relief when I didn't have to do that!

    You did an excellent job pointing to both the mechanical style (filming) and the content style ("in your face"). Good job here.

    By the way, we need to watch Drop Dead Gorgeous together. I own it and LOVE IT.

  2. Nice comparison to Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock. Would you consider their work more or less controversial than Paris Is Burning? Obviously Paris Is Burning views a more unusual topic to the everyday American, but it might actually be less in-your-face as far as issues that matter to most Americans than Moore's uber-political stuff. Good post, dude!

    P.S. I can never remember; are you a fan of Christopher Guest mockumentaries? It seems like you said you aren't, but I don't quite remember...