“The original show was fighting for tolerance; our fight is for acceptance,” comes out of one of the queer mouths in the just-released trailer for Netflix’s upcoming Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reboot and immediately it’s like, what? That’s what this show is about? I thought it was, like, a dumb makeover series whose conceit was at best a mindless gimmick and at worst a new reiteration of the decades-old notion in pop culture (most noticeably cinema) that gay men are most useful as sexless assistants devoted to improving the lives of straight people.
But sigh, here we are, in a time when wokeness and branding are increasingly tangled despite belonging nowhere near each other. I suppose you could make the argument that all media representation is political, especially that of traditionally marginalized groups. I’m certain that more than ever pop culture is judged by critics (i.e. anyone with a Twitter account) on its politics more than its aesthetics, which I would guess prompted those behind the marketing of the new Queer Eye to argue its political importance before the general public has seen a second of it (it’s set to debut on Netflix on Feb. 7).
After assorted scenes of the kind of life-zhushing this new fab five has been employed to perform, a title cards rapidly cycles through a series of perception-altering promises: “see fashion differently”; “see grooming differently”; “see culture differently”; “see food differently”; “see design differently”; “see love differently.” And then it lands on what’s meant to be the most poignant statement: “see each other differently.” And then we see a scene of a conversation in which a presumably straight, burly guy asks one of the queer guys whether in his marriage he’s the husband or the wife. “Let’s break that down!” calls one of the guys in the back. “Let’s unpack that,” as the married guy deems such a binary look at gay relationships as “a misconception.”
This is a common conversation that, while worth having and arguably worth filming and distributing given its source question’s endurance, is being branded as prosocial, impactful, important by its facilitators. If you don’t notice and argue your own worth, you see, there’s a good chance that in our information-saturated culture, no one will notice. So, it seems, only one queer eye is reserved for the straight guy; the other is for its own reflection.
This trailer reminds me of that commercial that argued corn syrup is good for you.