Analyze the article “The Purple Prince: How Prince Subverted Gender Through Costume, Performance, and Eroticism.”

To analyze Kevin Whiteneir’s article “The Purple Prince,” one could discuss the link between Prince’s style and his departure from normative masculinity, the differences between Prince and Michael Jackson, and the supposed power of celebrities to change culture for the better.

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Kevin Whiteneir’s article “The Purple Prince” ties together several deep themes, including celebrity, gender, and race.

One way to analyze Whiteneir’s article would be to think about his contention that Prince’s performance differs strikingly from the presentation of other Black stars, including Michael Jackson. In the article, Whiteneir uses Jackson as an example of a hegemonic representation of Black masculinity and sexuality. Think about why Jackson’s style and look reinforce typical notions when it comes to Black men and their sexuality. Consider how Prince departs from those conventions.

For Whiteneir, Prince’s outfits are a key part of his gender subversion. The color of his clothes, his footwear, and his use of lace separate him from his Black male counterparts. A discussion about clothes and the orientations that they tend to symbolize could be beneficial. Again, Whiteneir emphasizes Prince’s use of lace. Maybe talk about the associations of lace and how Prince destabilizes presumptions about which gender is best suited to wear lace.

Moving away from clothes, another kind of analysis might focus on the power of celebrity. In Whiteneir’s estimation, Prince had a crucial impact on the culture at large. His image helped bring about a greater acceptance of non-traditional gender representations. It could prove insightful to connect the power that Whiteneir attributes to Prince to the power that many right now attribute to current celebrities. Using Whiteneir’s evaluation of Prince, one could discuss the extent to which famous cultural figures can change the world.

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