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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.
- Spring '14