By Madi Miller
Assistant Broadcast Media Producer
Art can be portrayed in various ways such as paintings, sculptures and performing arts. There is debate in all parts of the country about how far is too far when including controversial material in performing arts. Many shows on Broadway and a few that come through the Dallas-Fort Worth area include things such as drag queens, strippers, profanity and other subject matter that some people may consider offensive. Other people who are a little less conservative find these non-offensive. Some people view such shows as an expression of art.
One show in the spotlight right now that has been stirring up controversy is “Kinky Boots.” The book writer, Harvey Fierstein, along with the director and choreographer, Jerry Mitchell, are both openly gay and support gay rights. Now it is unclear whether this played a role in the creation of this Broadway smash hit..
“Kinky Boots” was one of the most talked-about acts that performed during 2013’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The performances during the parade are supposed to showcase what shows are available on Broadway. Considering “Kinky Boots” won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, people should expect it to appear as one of the highlighted shows. But quite the opposite happened. There were many people who were outraged at this performance because it had drag queens in it.
“Kinky Boots,” though, is not a show that is focused on drag queens. It teaches a lesson of acceptance of others and of yourself. People tweeted things like “Kinky Boots is a disgrace,” and “Kinky Boots is disgusting and wrong.” Many who tweeted these things haven’t seen the show and claimed it wasn’t something they wanted their kids seeing. People said that the parade is supposed to be family friendly and felt that Kinky Boots was not and should not have been included.
However, these sensitive subjects are prevalent in the world today and people need to be educated on them before they pass judgment. This show is not to rub gay rights in the public’s face. It is a show that teaches people to be who they are and to not be bullied into something they are not.
A few years back, “La Cage Aux Folles,” also written by Fierstein and includes drag queens, came to Dallas. In a matinee performance, audience members were greeted by a drag queen before they went to take their seats. Those theatergoers who did not have prior knowledge about the show might have been a little confused and before the first act was over, many people had already gotten up out of their seats and exited. The same happened with “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” another show about drag queens that made a stop in Dallas but did not arrive to a welcoming audience.
“Rock of Ages” is a show that, while not featuring drag queens, involves strippers, profanity and sexual references. It is not recommended for children under the age of 14, which is expected, but for people that grew up in the ’80s, it is their dream show. It’s full of big hair, leg warmers, wine coolers and rock songs. It is set in a time period known for its edgy atmosphere.
Patrons should know what they are getting themselves into and do their research when going to a show. If they think strip clubs and alcohol are offensive, then this is not the show for them. It is disrespectful and rude for people to leave before the show has come to a close.
All of these shows are works of art that many people do not accept, nor tolerate. While I understand the point of view that children should not be introduced to these topics at such an early age, it is something that is real and present in the world today. It is a change and a scary one for some people.
Performing arts is a form of expression and part of culture that people need to understand before they condemn something they are not educated on. As stated in “Kinky Boots,” “You change the world when you change your mind.”
Madi Miller is a senior double major in journalism and film and digital media from Prosper. She is the assistant broadcast producer for the Lariat.