RuPaul's Drag Race Is Under Fire For A "Dangerous" Joke About Bipolar
11 June 2018, 16:53
People are calling out RuPaul after making a joke about bipolar disorder in the latest episode of 'Drag Race'.
It's no secret that the latest season of RuPaul's Drag Race has left fans disappointed and wanting more. Some fans have called out the show for favouritism, boring challenges and now, in the most recent episode, the show has come under fire for a controversial comment made about mental illness.
Last week's maxi challenge involved the remaining queens creating two drag personas; one that represents them in their every day life and the other that represents their negative-thinking and inner saboteur, the "evil twin". When describing the challenge to the other queens, RuPaul encouraged them to "board the bipolar express." You can hear the comment in the video below.
The Queens served the yin to their yang in this week's Evil Twins maxi challenge! 😇/😈— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) June 8, 2018
Sign in and snatch up FULL EPISODES of Evil Twins!#DragRace 👉https://t.co/vaKw74Zs3T#Untucked 👉 https://t.co/KCYbSpd6E7 pic.twitter.com/O4y6TnqSLe
The comment may have been a quick throwaway gag but many have called Ru and the show out on it - and rightly so. Fans of the show have argued that Ru's comment further stigmatises people living with bipolar and has done no favours in removing the stigma surrounding how the illness is perceived.
Bipolar, by definition, is when someone experiences both manic and depressive episodes; severe high and low moods alongside drastic changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behaviour. It is not a type of dissociative identity disorder (split personality).
Not only was the joke offensive and frustrating to people who live and deal with bipolar disorder everyday, linking it to split personality disorder in the same sentence and context was incorrect and also incredibly damaging. Here's what people are saying about the comment on Twitter:
Also fuck #DragRace tonight. Seriously, trying to do a good and evil thing and then calling it "bipolar" is not only fucking wrong but it's outright dangerous to how people are perceived with it. This is supposed to be my happy place show not this and it can go fuck itself.— Kim Void (@aproclivity) June 8, 2018
Literally, just stick with the “evil twin” thing babe, no need to trivialise MH issues— /ˈɛmə/ (@emmaalicejane) June 10, 2018
tbh i was done with this episode of drag race as soon as rupaul said "all aboard the bipolar express"— Scout/Salmonella (@ATweetFromScout) June 9, 2018
did u not listen to the bald one from s9 when she said DONT JOKE ABOUT THAT
If you didn’t take issue with @RuPaul using references to bipolar and dissociative identity disorder to introduce the evil twin challenge, then maybe you should reconsider your relationship with mental health stigma!— Joseph John Sanchez III (@JJS_III) June 8, 2018
I'm a big fan of @RuPaulsDragRace. I also have bipolar. It not actually super funny. So maybe @RuPaul can toss bipolar jokes, and all other mental disability jokes, into the same dustbin as 'shemail'. #MentalHealth #bipolar #neuroqueer #DragRace #ableism— John Blatzheim (@johnbltz) June 8, 2018
the problem w rupaul saying 'bipolar express' is that this casual use of bipolar as an adjective/joke will make others think that it's okay for them to grossly misuse the word too, same as when miz cracker said it in meet the queens.— kat 🤡 18 (@kaatherrinne1) June 8, 2018
also the fact that it was in conjunction with split personality jokes makes a rly unnecessary connection.........— kat 🤡 18 (@kaatherrinne1) June 8, 2018
It's not the first time RuPaul has come under fire for controversial comments on the show either. Back in 2015, the show dropped its signature 'SheMail' catchphrase due to complaints from the Trans community. As fans of the show will know, the segment now says: "She done already done had herses."
At the end of the day, no matter now light-hearted the comment was intended, using mental illness as a punchline for a joke (an inaccurate one at that) is not ok and it's incredibly frustrating for some people who work hard day in day out to remove stigma and educate people on mental health.
RuPaul is yet to respond to the backlash yet.