Here again we are seeing a representation of a more traditional, what some would call, glamour queen. A New York Times reviewer described Lola as
‘…the very model of a modern movie drag queen.’ (Holden, 2006)
And with this comes a level of expectation of civility and a non-threatening character. You also see a huge preservation of gender binaries, her tagline used for her show is
‘for ladies and gentlemen and those of you who have yet to decide.’ (Kinky Boots, 2005)
In this there is that idea of deciding, choosing between two definitive gender categories.
This theme of deciding is seen throughout the film with Lola frequently being asked about her gender, with her response being that she is a man. This seems like the makers of this film are trying to remind the audience that she has a ‘true’ gender and this doesn’t allow the acceptance of drag as serious or as something that holds any truth of its own. There are points in the duration of the film in which Lola uses her more stereotypically ‘masculine’ voice even though she is dressed up in drag, to assert power and dominance over other characters and situations. Moments and narrative choices such as these all serve to enforce the stereotypes of the strict gender roles that society applies to males and females.
Another way in which this mainstream media has under represented drag queens is through its aim of desexualising them. ‘Kinky Boots’ has no reference to Lola’s sexuality, while it is meant for the audience to presume she is a gay man there is no explicit statement to that. Nor is she seen to engage in any sexual or romantic relationships. A clear example of how this is polar opposite to the more niche portrayals such as the previously mentioned Divine. I think that drag has been used in this instance to distract from other important issues, to divert the audience away from other conversations that need to be had and to present a false feeling of progression and inclusivity. It’s the age-old idea of misdirection, for example Lola is cast as a black man yet at race isn’t a topic that the narrative addresses. You can see how this works because there is almost no discussion of it in reviews from critics or audiences. This is the same for the themes of class differences and capitalism. Instead reviews focus on how fun, light hearted and frivolous the film is all in reference to Lola’s character and persona through out the film. As I said previously this can serve to do is allow an audience to receive a false sense of progressiveness. So when they see this film and see the black, (assuming) gay, drag queen they feel that they are moving forward in being progressive, in terms of questioning their assumptions of gender and sexuality. But the reality is that media representations of this nature serve to reinforce assumptions and misconceptions.