Wester&Lacroix.Seeing Straight Throught the Queer Eye

Typically this purging is accomplished through a

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Unformatted text preview: l or physical. As with the teasing and touching described above, the Fab Five’s spatial transgressions are tolerated within the context of the show’s ritual of rebellion because of the helpful purpose informing their incursions and the fact that the Fab Five’s liminal status ensures that their presence is temporary. Indeed, the typical episode of Queer Eye ends with the Fab Five relegated to their loft, physically and socially separated from the straight man whose life and home they had invaded. This separation symbolizes the continued separation of Queers from the center of the sociosexual mainstream, renders their straight clients and the heterosexist order safe from the supposed danger posed to them by potentially homoerotic sexual encounters, and provides ritual and narrative closure to each episode. Thus, the ritual of rebellion concludes with a restoration of the ‘‘normal’’ sociosexual order that the series only pretends to challenge. In this way, Queer Eye ’s ritual formula reinforces the heterosexist order that perpetuates this separation. While the Fab Five are safely * albeit comfortably * contained in their loft, the show’s straight men ritually purge themselves of any potential homoerotic contamination they might have acquired from cavorting with the Fab Five. Typically, this purging is accomplished through a dinner date or some other obviously and traditionally heterosexual encounter. The success of these encounters is of much interest to the Fab Five. In the Andrew Lane episode, for instance, the Fab Five’s earlier playfulness with the straight man is replaced at show’s end with a demonstration of their intense interest in Andrew’s girlfriend and the success of the date they helped orchestrate. A common motif of Queer Eye are exclamations by ´ the Fab Five regarding how cute/pretty/hot a client’s girlfriend/fiancee/wife is, thus reaffirming the centrality of straight relationships and the heterosexual desire that supposedly drives them. By each episode’s end, however, the continued presence of the Fab Five is rendered undesirable because their presence is no longer necessary. Many of the Fab Five’s projects are undertaken in order to prevent potential or repair actual damage to straight relationships. Straight men and their living spaces are revamped so that their girlfriends and wives will be happy to stay with them, thus preserving and protecting the heterosexist order. This privileging of straight relationships is underscored in the episode in which Carson finds a pair of Tom’s girlfriend’s lace underwear in Thomas Kaden’s house. Carson brings the panties into the SUV and hangs them on the rearview mirror when they leave for Tom’s makeover and shopping expedition, explaining that he is hanging the panties there ‘‘just so we D o w n l o a d e d B y : [ O h i o S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a ri e s ] A t : 1 7 : 4 5 7 J u n e 2 0 0 7 Seeing ‘‘Straight’’ through Queer Eye 439 know why we’re working so hard.’’ The importance of maintaining heterosexual relationships is paramount. Indeed, in the John Williams episode, Ted states: ‘‘We are in favor of straight marriage. Straight marriage is for the good of everybody. It really is. Without straight marriage, there would be no gay people.’’ Interestingly * and pointedly * no similar support is expressed for gay marriage, or for any other Queer living arrangements. References to any relationship the members of the Fab Five might have with significant same-sex others, if such relationships exist, are conspicuous by their absence. Even regular viewers of the series know very little about the Fab Five’s private lives or their romantic/sexual partners. No casual references are made to such. No wallet photographs of their partners are shared. This silence regarding gay relationships is markedly different from the way Queer Eye highlights and celebrates heterosexual relationships. Also troubling is the way that the Fab Five’s sexuality is tamed. They are allowed to express sexual desire, and do so quite often, but such expressions are usually framed as jokes. For all their sexual teasing, the Fab Five are depicted as sexually tame. They may verbalize sexual desire, but they are not allowed to physically consummate it. They are not permitted the same sexual license accorded their heterosexual clients, who are obviously sexually active, given the presence in their homes of spent condoms, sexual lubricants, and so on. Indeed, Queer Eye ’s ritual formula defines the Fab Five as desexualized beings, which renders them safe in that they pose no threat to the heterosexist order. As Shugart (2003) points out, the tendency of popular culture media to dismiss Queer sexuality serves to ‘‘enrich and strengthen specifically heteronormative social and political sensibilities’’ (p. 70; see also Brookey & Westerfelhaus, 2001; Dow, 2001; Fejes & Petrich, 1993; Gross, 2001; Slagle, 20...
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This note was uploaded on 01/20/2014 for the course ARTEDUC 2367.03 taught by Professor Tiffanylewis during the Spring '14 term at Ohio State.

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