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Thread: a philosophical question

  1. #11
    FORT Regular alixtheweaver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle
    Gays are not all the same and should not have to act a certain way in order to be "acceptable".
    I totally agree, Poodle.

  2. #12
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    I think the show does reinforce stereotypes, but it has more redeeming characteristics than that. Here are the stereotypes I can think of right now that I think the show reinforces: that gay men are campy, that gay men are witty, that gay men are fashionable and stylish, that gay men are particularly well-off.

    First, the whole show is campy, regardless of the individual Fab 5ers' personalities. But that campiness is a big part of the show's success. And there's no reason why camp shouldn't be allowed on television. Of course it should.

    That the guys are witty isn't exactly a damnation of the show, either. What would we prefer? But it does reinforce stereotypes.

    Same with fashionability and stylishness. It's a makeover show, for chrissakes.

    And while the guys aren't being well-paid (yet) by Bravo, you've got to admit the show makes them look fabulously rich, cruising around in what is alternately a sleek black SUV and a limousine, in trendy clothes, spending untold fortunes in dream shopping sprees.

    These are all pretty standard cliches you see on, say, Will & Grace, as well as the new sitcom "It's All Relative" on ABC. There's also an overemphasis on white gay people in TV portrayals, but it's not like Friends is some multicultural ideal, either. Another overemphasis is men over women. And when lesbians do show up in storylines, they're often there just as fantasies for straight men. Things are definitely getting better, though, if slowly.

    I think the solution to these typical TV stereotypes is not to change Queer Eye, but to have other shows where there are full, three-dimensional gay characters of whatever race or sex, where you don't have screaming cues as to the characters' sexuality, but you do see them in romantic relationships that are treated the same as straight relationships. For an example of this, see HBO's Six Feet Under. That's the only TV portrayal of gay people I can think of that I can really relate to in my normal life. But most TV shows, regardless of characters' sexuality, aren't that relatable anyway. In fact, I can't even think of a movie I've seen at a gay film festival lately that I really relate to in normal life.

    So if I were to propose a solution to the stereotypes of Queer Eye and other popular gay shows, it would be to present a whole range of shows with a whole range of portrayals, not to change popular shows that already work. There should be shows with campy, witty gay men on them. We shouldn't hide them or be ashamed of them. But campy, witty gay men are a minority within the gay community, and TV portrayals create a much different impression than that. I don't want to hide the stereotypical people, I just want the non-stereotypical people to be represented, too.

    But in addition to all this fretting over stereotypes, I think there are major redeeming characteristics to Queer Eye. One is that you see gay people as father figures. I know this isn't exactly the first thing you think about, but these straight guys are being taught how to shave, how to live well, how to impress a woman, all by these gay men who really care about them. The gay guys are being shown as these nurturers. Also, the show is showing how gay and straight men can interact normally, that they're all guys here and that it's cool. I think it's making a lot of viewers more comfortable with gay people.

    But what I think matters most with Queer Eye as a show is that it's great entertainment. It's hillarious. It's fun. And it has the to ratings prove it.

  3. #13
    Loaded God Complex MajiH's Avatar
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    I agree 100% with Poodle. All I got to say.
    ~*~ Maji *~

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodle
    ok, I might have a completely different view of this, but here it goes. It bothers me when people say that QEFTSG reinforces stereotypes, just because a few of the sailors are what most people would consider "effeminate" It is as if the critics are saying that gay men should act like straight me in order to go against that stereotype and prove... what? that they can fit in with straight men and that there is no difference between them?

    I like it that Carson and Jai are effeminate, but only because that seems like their real personalities, they are being themselves and they seem to be comfortable with themselves regardless of what others think. In my opinion it is just as bad to say that gay men should act more masculine than to criticize those who are naturally more effeminate. Gays are not all the same and should not have to act a certain way in order to be "acceptable".
    A big

  5. #15
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    I agree with Poodle with the exception that the whole show enforces stereotypes, not just a couple of the guys. But I don't think it's a bad thing or that stereotypes shouldn't be shown. But there should be a broader representation of gay people on television overall.

  6. #16
    FORT Fogey eldee's Avatar
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    Can my friend check the PM?

  7. #17
    Now you see me... elysive's Avatar
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    Whoa! This thread has really taken off, guys! Thanks! Actually I was so embarassed the day after I wrote it, had it not been for tmt's post, I would have deleted it!

    I do feel better about the whole thing. In general I can't handle Will & Grace because of its total lack of dimension (although I like looking at Debra Herring! , but I do see what it offers to our culture.

    I'm just glad to have gotten that off my chest and to see that other people have thought out the whole cultural implications thing. When I wrote that, I didn't know whether I was just justifying it half assedly to make myself feel better about drooling over and gushing over gay men.

    I'm still not sure, but I don't really think QE will ultimately hurt the gay community (hell the stereotypes are already there, and the show isn't supposed to be a REAL reality series). Like Thom and Carson said on the E! show this week, it's amazing that Amish and familys with children are watching the show.

    Oh and yes, the underneath of my desk is cozy now. I've been nesting since Chicago hit the low 30s and my landlord hasn't turned on the heat. It shields me from flying fruit, in the literal sense lol, but still has enough room to function as a "love nest" for if Thom came knocking on my door.

  8. #18
    FORT Newbie Poodle's Avatar
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    pdxviewer: you're right, the whole show is about stereotypes, but I'd have to say, seeing a show portraying gay men as style/fashion/culture conscious witty and campy father figures is so much better than the usual neutered "pity me" characters (Will & Grace, Melrose Place, etc...). I love the way all five of the QE guys interact with each other and with the straight men. I think this show is doing wonders for breaking down people's perceptions of gay men.

  9. #19
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    pdxviewer, you've nailed it. The problem is not with shows that portray gay men as fashionable, campy, catty, etc., the problem is that there are no shows that show other sorts of gays. I wrote the following about this in my LJ a few weeks back, in response to having read of a journalist who referred to the Fab Five as the new Stepin Fetchit:

    To compare the real-life personalities and behavior of real gay men to an actor's undertaking an exaggerated stereotype is unfair and insulting and repugnant. The stereotype of gay men as swishy happened BECAUSE SOME GAY MEN ARE SWISHY. If certain people can't figure out that that doesn't mean ALL gay men are swishy, that really is their problem, at least to the extent that if the queer-and-friends community wants to try to help them get past it, it's not worth silencing or hurting our own people in the process.

    I've said it before, I'll say it again: If we try to win queer acceptance by showing on the most conventional members of the community, then only the most conventional people will get accepted. Gay activists for years have talked about the horrors of the closet--I'm not about to let people push swishy guys into new closets without a fight.


    The Fab Five also had good things to say about this issue in a roundtable with The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/html/stories...7_queereye.asp . Particularly praiseworthy is the following:

    Carson: We always get the stuff about us engendering every gay stereotype. And one thing: Hi, its a reality show. Were not cartoonish and were not pretending to be supergay or superstraight or whatever. Were just being ourselves, and Im not going to make any excuses for who I am, and I dont think any of these guys are either.

    Kyan: This whole stereotype issue may force the gay community to look at our own homophobia. [...] Im all for guys being butch and guys being men. I identify with that and appreciate that. But if Im going to stab my gay brother in the back who isnt butch and who maybe acts a little bit more effeminate, what good is that?

  10. #20
    FORT Newbie Poodle's Avatar
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    Carson: We always get the stuff about us engendering every gay stereotype. And one thing: Hi, its a reality show. Were not cartoonish and were not pretending to be supergay or superstraight or whatever. Were just being ourselves, and Im not going to make any excuses for who I am, and I dont think any of these guys are either.

    ok, I LOVE that quote by Carson. It's so true,

    I also think that one of the reasons why this show has become such a huge hit it because it is NOT political. Gay entertainers have to walk a fine line between being who they are and trying to serve the public a political message. They have succeeded where most other gay entertainers have failed (I.e. Ellen, George Michael, Boy George, etc..) once you begin preaching and stray from entertaining your career will soon fail or you will be marginalized as a "gay entertainer". I'm sure that the fab five's publicists/agents have told them to stay away from political topics and to just be themselves.

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