Before the reading for the week, I had no idea what the film Paris is Burning would contain so I had no expectations. After the readings I was a bit more prepared for the onslaught of homosexual balls that was to ensue throughout the documentary. I had never known of such things. Everything about this group of people was a brand new world to me. It was a bit confusing at first; I wasn’t sure how to handle something so new in my mind. Soon I began to see that these really are people finding ways to enjoy life and be a part of something. The readings made me see this at first, but I am a visual person and the documentary really helped me get it.
I was shocked about how detailed and involved the world of balls and houses really is. The new vocabulary, for instance, was something that truly fascinated me. Of course it makes sense for this group of people to have their own vocabulary, just like there is certain vocabulary for any specific group of people involved in particular activities. Take for example something as simple as a cross-country team, or something closer to the film, those involved in pageants. Every group has specific vocabulary that is special to it. Or how about the number of houses to which a person could belong, who knew there were so many. Each house had its own style and leader. These ideas really are not any further away than a high school or college. There are cliques of all sorts and every stereotype imaginable.
People naturally group together with those who are most like them, hence clubs and groups. Everyone wants to belong, and that is what is the biggest impact from this movie to me. Each person within the movie was looking to be accepted for what he or she was. No one wanted to change; instead he wanted to offer his service towards his house. This obsession with belonging somewhere leads to obsession with representing that house well. The man who was making a tank top that took him much longer than usual, or anyone who decided to walk in a ball poured his heart into what he was doing so that it would be the best he could give. I believe everyone can learn from the type of obsessions these people represent. Obsession can become dangerous, but it should inspire passion in a person’s life and that is what makes this film cool.