Paris Is Burning

Breaking the Fourth Wall in "Paris is Burning" 11th Grade

Paris is Burning, a documentary by Jennie Livingston, focuses on the lives of New York City drag queens by providing insight into their unique culture by the use of an untraditional aspect of a documentary- she breaks the fourth wall. Livingston interacts with her subjects to draw out more specific information by asking personal questions regarding aspirations and particular events, and to grasp an emotional response from her audience by publicizing the subjects’ perspectives in an effort to make her work more meaningful. By including the interviews with the members in the documentary, Livingston allows her audience to view this phenomenon from a different perspective- the perspective of the people directly involved in the struggle to be accepted as whom they see themselves as.

In the series of short, casual interviews throughout the documentary, Livingston breaks the fourth wall by questioning her subjects in regard to their most private personal values and aspirations. Livingston intentionally involves herself in this engagement to increase the comfort and relations between the audience and the interviewees. This emphasizes the subjects’ ultimate desire to fulfill what is widely perceived as the American dream- being happily...

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