Some 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Fans Are Mad About RuPaul's Bipolar Joke
The latest episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” was about “evil twins.” The top five contestants were tasked to create two looks, one based on their “good” qualities and one on their “bad.”
In each episode, RuPaul teases the main challenge in a video. In the teaser, RuPaul said it was time for the contestants to “split personalities” and board the “bipolar express.”
The Queens served the yin to their yang in this week's Evil Twins maxi challenge! ????/????
— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) June 8, 2018
The “jokes” were not well received by people on Twitter. Viewers of the show said the comments were in bad taste and perpetuated stigma. Some also said calling an “evil twins” challenge the “bipolar express” was likening the experience of living with the disorder to something that’s fun.
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
Really though, @RuPaul. Bipolar jokes? It's really upsetting to me because marginalized communities should always try to uplift one another, not deride. There's nothing funny about what it's like living with bipolar disorder.
— Six Foot Brown Yoda (@logic_avenger) June 11, 2018
as someone with bipolar disorder, I have to go through every single day wondering if I’ll lose someone else bc they don’t want to deal with me and you tell them to “board the bipolar express” like it’s some fun ride???
if you support RuPaul after this
please get out of my life https://t.co/aX4Ewkq3TP
— liz ???? (@recycliz) June 11, 2018
Here’s the world begging for this mental health crisis to be taken seriously, and in the same breath everyone says why is there a stigma? This is why there’s a stigma. Because everyone else treats it like a punchline.
— Alayeni Silvermist (@AlayeniEQ) June 11, 2018
I would like to ask @RuPaul, and anyone else that finds “all aboard the bipolar express” funny to hop on in. Go ahead, step onto the train. You’ll see that being bipolar isn’t as *cute* as you’re making it out to be.
— ???????????????????????? ???????? (@archerbortion) June 11, 2018
Twitter users also pointed out that RuPaul seemed to mistake bipolar disorder for dissociative identity disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by shifting mood states from depression to mania; it has nothing to do with having more than one personality. Dissociative identity disorder is characterized by having two or more distinct personalities and is the result of trauma. Both disorders are heavily stigmatized.
Not everyone took issue with the comments. Some twitter users said people should lighten up or that it was just a joke. Even jokes that are seemingly harmless, though, can add to stigma, Alyssa Fountain, a contributor for The Mighty, wrote.
The stigma around mental illness is insidious and part of life everywhere every day. While the ongoing issues surrounding stigma towards mental illness are massive and this battle will occur over many months and years, everyday comments and actions can help combat stigma and open dialogue on mental health.
What do you think?
Lead photo via Twitter