The 1991 documentary, Paris is Burning, was the first way that most people heard about the underground Ball scene. It was a product seven years in the making by Jenny Livingston, a white genderqueer filmmaker, who became extremely famous after the release of this documentary which detailed the Ball scene in New York throughout the ‘80s.
This fame and wealth that Livingston accrued due to their documentary was questioned by feminist scholars, namely bell hooks, who questioned whether Livingston was enabling cultural appropriation. There was also the participants in the documentary who felt that they should be compensated for a film that they helped created that grossed, $3,779,620.
People in the Ball community today have a wide variety of reactions to the publicity that Paris is Burning brought. On the one hand, it is nice to get credit for many of the original ideas that other performers have used, such as Madonna’s Vogue which was inspired from the Ball scene. On the other hand, people now believe that the Ball scene is a historical moment from the 80s as opposed to a community that is alive and thriving today.
Watch a couple clips from this revolutionary documentary and post in the comments a quote that you, or your character, would relate with.