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Friday, March 18, 2005

The Style Council

I watched about twenty minutes of an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy yesterday. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever put myself through.

Not having any reference for the rest of the episodes, I can't tell whether or not this is a typical episode, but this one had a scruffy-bearded musician father whose family wanted him to get the Queer Eye treatment. "The Fab Five" came in and cut his hair, groomed and manicured him, re-decorated their house, gave him a new wardrobe, and taught him how to cook. The hosts were especially proud of the reaction from their subject's wife and family.

The biggest thing I had trouble with was how gay the hosts were. Wait, wait. I know that's the point of the show (that gay guys have taste, and straight guys don't), and I know there are a lot of straight guys who won't watch the program because homosexual men make them feel uncomfortable. This isn't my problem. I don't care if people are gay, and I don't even care if people are extremely, flamingly, overwhelmingly gay. My problem was that it was pretty easy to see that they were gaying it up for the camera, which I felt took away from the show and made it more annoying than entertaining.

"He is so hot," they kept saying of New Dad. At one point, when the son came in to see Dad's new look, there was the obligatory

"Oooh, his son's cute."

From what I understand, this is a pretty popular show, and my suspicion is that most people enjoy watching this show for the overwhelmingly gay interaction between the project-people and the hosts. This made me recall the frustrating-but-true idea that when a form of expression is forced to appeal to the masses, it generally suffers.

Some friends of mine often joke that if there's a question of the intelligence of most of society, we should simply look at the bestseller lists in books, music, and film. Right now you can find the likes of Moby, Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, and Jack Johnson on Amazon.com's bestseller list--if that doesn't say something about the mainstream's tastes for C-minus music, I don't know what does.

But it's not fair to indict people for being stupid just because they like crappy music. Certainly, music and film aren't most people's biggest interest--it's just something to do when they're bored, for the most part. They may not be stupid, they just don't care. So that's the worst thing about television, radio, and movies--most of it is stuff that's been filtered down and test-marketed until it's something that can make money, and it works.

The blame has to be shared. It's not just people who keep gobbling up the garbage and telling me that it's sugar candy1--it's an industry set out to do what industries do, it's a lack of understanding by the public of what there is to offer, and it's just a general acceptance by buyers to purchase only what they're comfortable hearing--which is generally the music they grew up with or what they hear on the radio.

It's nothing to be too upset about, but I think it's worth noting.

1"That one song on Songs About Jane, the one about the beauty queen? That song is beautiful poetry," a girl I know said. Are you fucking serious?

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