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I should probably preface this piece by admitting that my outlook on life has become increasingly nihilistic over the last few years. Very little impresses me these days. With that being said, I feel that some hard truths need to be expressed regarding Netflix’s popular show Queer Eye. Let’s begin.
Being a gay man means having to face certain trials and tribulations that straight people will never have to endure. The still largely heterosexual landscape of high school is where I received my first set of battle scars. Many of my straight peers mocked me, bullied me and ostracised me. But, funnily enough, they never told me how to live my life. The hosts of Queer Eye do.
The home you live in, regardless of what shape it’s in, is, in my view, a sacred place. It is our haven from a cruel and unpredictable world. It is a place of respite. It is a place where we recharge our physical and spiritual batteries. The idea of five strangers whizzing through my personal space like tornados, scoffing and scowling at every turn, is highly offensive to me. I would never willingly subject myself to such a degrading experience. (Fortunately for the show’s hosts and producers, there are plenty of others who are more than happy to do this. Never underestimate the power of presenting someone with an opportunity to get their fifteen minutes of fame.)
Queer Eye, and makeover shows in general, are obsessed with the concept of the “quick fix.” A new wardrobe, a lick of paint, a “recipe” for avocado and toast, and, hey presto, your life is fixed! These shows are just like plasters. But plasters are ineffective when it comes to deep wounds. True healing and true self-development take time and commitment. And, as I’m sure many psychologists and health professionals would agree, these important emotional processes shouldn’t be exploited by the world of entertainment.
Queer Eye, for all its declarations about hoping to manifest enlightenment, is a product. And products are designed to make money. The hosts can sit and say that they agreed to do this show for purely altruistic reasons until the cows come home. Anyone with half a brain knows this isn’t true. The show is essentially a vehicle for them to further their nascent careers and enhance their fame and fortune. And that is absolutely fine! Just be honest about it!
Another element of the show that truly irks me is the ridiculous notion that the hosts make an effort to stay in contact with the participants once their time with them is over. Absolute bunk. As soon as the episode is in the can, it’s back to red carpets, transatlantic flights, narcissitic Instagram posts and constant self-promotion. The fact that the hosts try to convince us that they genuinely care about what becomes of the participants––excuse me, “heroes” (barf)––is laughable.
The truth of the matter is, there is no “right” way to live. All of us––not just gay men––have to let go of that illusion. I hope that young LGBT people are wise enough to know that the lives the hosts of Queer Eye lead should not be the barometer by which they measure success and happiness. I hope they refuse to be hypnotised by the hosts’ designer patent shoes, their shiny magazine covers, and the glistening filtered realities that they so flagrantly display on their social media––all gloss, no substance.
It will be interesting to see what the five hosts do when the show comes to an end. The LGBT community is disproportionately affected when it comes to issues such as homelessness and suicide. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that could be done to ensure that people of the LGBT community get the help they need and deserve. It’s just a shame that the hosts of Queer Eye, five fraudulent Samaritans, are more interested in the lights and the camera than the action.