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Paris Is Burning: Questioning Cultural Norms and Our Reality

 Released in 1990 and focusing on the drag culture of the 1980‘s, Jeannie Livingston’s real life account of drag ball culture through her documentary Paris Is Burning forces audiences to take another look at the “normal” lives they’ve been living, while also subjecting them to the natural desires of the ball contestant to blend into the society that has been pushing them away. Paris Is Burning holds a mirror up to our society that leads us to question the cultural norms we live by as the well as the reality that we believe. Through personal interviews and a look into the hidden world of the balls, the audience is able to catch a sneak peak into the lives of performers. This touches on many important and thought provoking themes, mainly forcing the viewers to look introspectively into their lives by giving them a look into lives so different from their own. Paris Is Burning, on a deeper level, is able to entirely turn upside down the normative society that we live in by ripping apart societal norms and even questioning their existence altogether.

Overall, Livingston’s interpretation of the ball world is insightful and possibly even life changing through the deeply personal moments she catches and the way she is able to draw the audience into these moments. In the end, the audience is left to ponder many things not only about society, but about themselves.

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