The last time I wrote about “Queer Eye for a Straight Guy” had to do with their lone Muslim cast member and what might be his fate were he living in a majority Muslim society.
Since then, the show has become simply “Queer Eye,” a Netflix reboot and a “spiritual” icon for today’s America. Several media have taken up the idea that the gay quintet’s accepting and gracious demeanor is very much like what Jesus might look like if he was here. At the current rate, these guys are going to outdo Oprah in the spiritual force department.
This recent New York Times piece by Amanda Hess piece notes that the show’s makeovers, redecorating and shopping have become the new chic form of expressing repentance and beginning a new life. Born again?
Every episode is the same. Five queer experts in various aesthetic practices conspire to make over some helpless individual. Tan France (fashion) teaches him to tuck the front of his shirt into his pants; Bobby Berk (design) paints his walls black and plants a fiddle-leaf fig; Antoni Porowski (food) shows him how to cut an avocado; Jonathan Van Ness (grooming) shouts personal affirmations while shaping his beard; and Karamo Brown (“culture”) stages some kind of trust-building exercise that doubles as an amateur therapy session. Then, they retreat to a chic loft, pass around celebratory cocktails and watch a video of their subject attempting to maintain his new and superior lifestyle. The makeover squad cries, and if you are human, you cry too.
Van Ness, by the way, with his long brown hair and beard, is a dead ringer for many of the cinematic depictions of Christ over the past 50 years.
The reporter then packs a masterful punch in What It All Means.
Because “Queer Eye” is not just a makeover. As its gurus lead the men (and occasionally, women) in dabbing on eye cream, selecting West Elm furniture, preparing squid-ink risotto and acquiring gym memberships, they are building the metaphorical framework for an internal transformation. Their salves penetrate the skin barrier to soothe loneliness, anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, absentee parenting and hoarding tendencies. The makeover is styled as an almost spiritual conversion. It’s the meaning of life as divined through upgraded consumer choices.
Hess’ article is dripping with spiritual lingo and is a delight to read.