There has been a ton of backlash regarding Mellissa McCarthy’s makeup for her role as Ursula in Disney’s hyper popular new live action remake of The Little Mermaid. Many have noted the inspiration taken from iconic Drag Queen Divine for McCarthy’s look. Peter King is a straight male makeup artist and many queer fans are upset that a queer makeup artist wasn’t hired. 

While this debate is a fairly fluid one that can be interpreted in many ways it is more so King’s comments that have sparked controversy. King told Insider in an interview, “I find that very offensive. Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist? […] That’s ridiculous. That’s trying to claim it and that’s fine, if that’s what they wanna do, but don’t put people down because they’re not what they want it to be.

I personally don’t get it. Yes, I’m very old now, so that’s fine, I get that too, but, you know, a makeup artist or makeup designer could design makeup, they don’t have to have an attachment to the nature of what they’re doing.”

McCarthy herself started off her performance career as a drag queen performing in NYC under the name Miss Y. For these reasons it makes total sense for her to sport makeup that stems from drag culture especially seeing that it makes sense for her character. 

What many struggle to understand is that not all queer people are attached to drag culture and not everyone involved in drag culture is queer (take McCarthy for example). For example, they could have hired a queer makeup to do a similar drag inspired look but they might not necessarily be involved in drag culture. 

For this reason, while it would be a preference to hire a queer makeup artist it isn’t a necessity. Drag culture is also so much a part of the mainstream now and the actress sporting the look has contributed to the culture herself. What makes it problematic is the perhaps flippant and insensitive tone of King’s response which shows no willingness to understand perhaps why queer people may take offence – whether or not it’s justified. 

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