Danny Dyer doing Drag is more important than you think
Earlier today, Lucy Rose uploaded the music video for her newest single 'Nebraska' and already has received widespread acclaim thanks to the lead performance of Mr Danny Dyer in full drag, with unexpected emotive results. I had spoken to Lucy no more than five weeks ago about what she had planned for the video, in which she told me she couldn't talk about it but Danny Dyer's name had cropped up a few times in that conversation; needless to say I was surprised at seeing him but by the end of the video, I can only applaud both him and Lucy for making something so pure, so evocative and poignant, something that everyone can relate to. The video follows Dyer's character, brooding and skulking around London before entering a night club. We then realise the club is home to many drag queens, many of whom take delights in performing on stage, and Dyer watches them, he narrows his eyes, looks uncomfortable, all the while Lucy's gentle voice sings I'm walking on thin ice, to find who I really am. Dyer withdraws from the club into a toilet, pushing himself to his limits, frustrated and and angry, before collecting himself and walking into another room, where he strips and begins applying make up, clutching a sparkling red sequin dress. Dyer, now in complete drag, begins his performance on stage, clutching the air around him as if it were fleeting. He becomes at peace with himself, accepts himself, Lucy singing of this acceptance, the path, it moves, it shouts, I'm alive.
By the end of the video, I found myself genuinely moved, but it got me thinking. Danny Dyer is easily the most 'alpha-male' person on TV at the moment, sharp cockney accent, always willing to get himself into a scrap, he seemed to me the pinnacle of what one would usually associate with 'typical' masculinity. Now, I'm aware this is a problematic statement as the term itself 'masculinity' cannot be pinned down, but it is based on a series of presumptions. You have to be tough, you have to be psychically strong, you are forbidden to show any emotion, you have to consistently prove yourself to a world that thinks it knows you. What Lucy and Mr Dyer have created in response to this, is a message of self-acceptance and hope, that these presumptions are laughable and mean nothing. Danny's character in the video clearly isn't comfortable in his own identity, as are most of us, and it's not an easy path to go on when it seems so narrow. When I made the decision to come out to my family, it was foreboding and endlessly felt like a suffocation. But I stuck to the path and I made it to the end.
When Danny performs on that stage and extends his arms to the sky, you can see the happiness and pride beaming, and he is speaking of behalf of so many that have had to endure the same journey. Regardless of the colour of your skin, or the sexual orientation you choose, your own identity is so precious and so important. Self-expression is the pinnacle of LIVING, of defining who you are as a person and who you want to be, and it shouldn't be repressed. Dyer's character can also be seen as a metaphor for Lucy herself, notably pointing out the still-existing sexism in the music industry, and how the industry have attempted to 'mould' her to fit their standards, because clearly, her talent alone isn't enough. Female singers are consistently asked to be more pretty, or to 'sex up' more often to shift records, actual talent seems to be the bottom priority. Likewise, if Dyer even sheds as much as one tear, it's regarded as inferior, or weak. In juxtaposition, the first few seconds of the video break this preconception as it's clear Dyer's character has been crying, struggling to accept himself for who he is. The moment Dyer finds himself, it's a beautiful moment. It's a moment of self-acceptance after a lifetime of repression that can speak to everyone. If you ever felt like you weren't good enough, or if you ever felt like you were a whisper in a world full of loud voices, or if you couldn't see a way out of the darkness, things do get better. Something both Dyer's character and Lucy have gone through, but now they feel alive.
So, through this video, both Lucy and Dyer reject whatever society has to say about them. Do what makes you happy, be yourself, don't let people force you into a box that you don't want to be in. Break those preconceptions, because you can shape yourself into whoever you want to be. And for that Miss Rose, and Mr Dyer, I thank you both for sharing this message.