We’ve all got a @dril tweet we’re never not thinking about. For me, that @dril tweet is: “‘This Whole Thing Smacks Of Gender,’ i holler as i overturn my uncle’s barbeque grill and turn the 4th of July into the 4th of Shit.”
I refer to this tweet so often as it gave me language to describe something I’d never quite had the words for—that is, when something that smacks of gender. What does it mean for something to smack of gender? Well, it simply means that it’s doing just that: smacking of gender. The gender is self-evident. The gender is overpowering. What else is there to say? The gender—it simply smacks of it.
I bring this up because YouTubers James Charles and Jojo Siwa released a collab makeover video on Friday, and the whole thing smacks of gender. In it, the 21-year-old makeup artist gives the 17-year-old Dance Moms star-turned-teen corporate overlord “a full transformation,” which for Charles means no glitter, no bows, no rainbows, and no taut, jaunty ponytails tugging at Siwa’s hairline.
It’s a more mature femininity that James is going for, rather than Jojo’s typical girly maximalism, but as he gets to work on her makeover, the younger YouTuber starts to rebel with chaotic little masculine barbs.
“I’m brother baking my brother brows,” Siwa says, interrupting Charles with a boyish twist on his signature overuse of the word “sister” as a catch-all prefix. He gasps exasperatedly, asking her to stop. She doesn’t, telling him: “We’re gonna do my brother brows. Let’s go.”
When James reveals the final look—subtle, sophisticated, and subdued with soft blonde waves spilling over Siwa’s face—his makeover subject loves it, just not on her. “If it was on any other human, I would say, ‘That human is the most stunning human in the whole world!’” Jojo says, toying with a kind of intentional gendered dissociation. “I feel like a different version. I feel like I’m Joelle right now”—that is, her unabbreviated legal name.
I have no other words for this video except that the gender within it is off the charts. It’s probable. It’s palpable. It’s simply overwhelming! In short, it smacks of gender. Judith Butler is, most assuredly, shaking.