How ‘Queer Eye’ Upholds Liberal Economic Fantasies

Yves here. Now that I have been subjected to having TV on in the room with me, it’s been hard to miss the way it aggressively enforces social values. Everyone is supposed to be smiling and happy, including people with very serious diseases like cancer by virtue of taking the right meds. Women when threatened by men are supposed to turn into simpering heaps unless they are Asian ninja girls or cops, and those categories sometimes overlap. And then there are the economic messages, like pretty much every middle class TV character living in nicer digs than they can afford on their pay.

This post gives an in-depth look on the not-subtle social and economic messages presented by the popular show Queer Eye. Frankly, I’ve never been keen about makeover-themed shows, since they result in the hosts/producer imposing their taste on the subject. On this path lies plastic surgeons who make their women patients look a lot like each other.

By Sonali Kolhatkar, the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations and a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

When Netflix recently released season six of the popular reality show “Queer Eye,” I eagerly binge-watched all 10 episodes, savoring Tan France’s precise fashion sense, Bobby Berk’s jaw-droppingly elegant interior designs, Karamo Brown’s sage and insightful personal advice, Antoni Porowski’s versatile kitchen skills, and, of course, Jonathan Van Ness’ endearingly quirky makeovers.

The show is wildly popular, earning a whopping 100 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes for season five, which is the latest rating available, and a 97.2 percentile ranking among all reality television shows nationwide. Its five hosts, who are undeniably charming and likable, have been nominated for and have won several Emmy Awards.

The “Fab Five” filmed their latest season in the city of Austin, Texas, a liberal haven in one of the nation’s most conservative states, with each episode focusing on one of a handful of struggling Texans lucky enough to be picked for the show’s personalized and very expensive life coaching sessions. The first episode was filmed in March 2020 just as the initial lockdown sparked by the global pandemic was announced. Filming was suspended for a year and resumed in 2021, and subsequent episodes found many of the show’s “heroes,” as they are dubbed, struggling with the impact of the lockdowns, offering a microcosm of post-pandemic economic inequality in the United States.

While the Fab Five shows remarkable empathy for their heroes—dare we call them “victims” of American capitalist cruelty?—there is no critique of, say, why a small-business owner might be struggling so severely to stay afloat that they forget to shop for new clothes, wash their hair regularly, eat healthy, spend quality time with their families, or have a social life. Instead, there is an assumption that it is simply the way of things for the working poor to exist on the precipice of economic calamity, and if only said heroes could be reminded of the importance of self-love, their lives would dramatically improve.

The fact that the hosts of “Queer Eye” are a diverse mix of four queer men—two of whom are men of color—and one non-binary person fits beautifully into the socially liberal, fiscally conservative ethos of the Democratic Party and its ilk. Indeed, senior editor Jonathan Borge effusively opined that “Netflix’s ‘Queer Eye’ Is Actually Making America Great Again.” Borge claims that “Queer Eye” provides “the exact thing that Americans from all walks of life are hungry for: hope.” What such hope means is unclear—hope that the nation’s unfair economic system will magically fix itself?

Liberal fans of the show delight in the fact that the Fab Five embody the targets of conservative gender- and race-based hatreds that Democratic leaders pay lip service to defending. The telegenic hosts champion LGBTQ rights and proudly proclaim that Black Lives Matter, while remaining adamantly tight-lipped about the unfairness of the economic system whose victims they routinely encounter.

And while it is absolutely critical to have such diverse representation on screen, the Fab Five appear to have turned into attractive on-screen purveyors of predatory capitalism, helping to preserve the neoliberal fantasies of Clintonite Democrats. Feeling down about your lot in life? Just buy some new fashion products and a built-in sofa and your problems will disappear—especially if Netflix is footing the bill.

Indeed, the hosts have themselves capitalized heavily on the show’s fame (and who could blame them?). The website the Business of Fashion explains that “the TV series takes a head-on approach to issues like LGBTQ rights and Black Lives Matter, all while selling millions of dollars in product, from makeup sticks to subscription boxes.”

Self-care is incredibly expensive—another fact that remains perpetually unstated throughout the show, but that is screaming out silently at the viewer from every product-filled scene. Although the price of things is never mentioned, we can safely assume it costs good money to shop at bespoke clothing stores, to get one’s hair meticulously cut and styled at boutique salons, to enjoy one-on-one therapy sessions, to shop at health food stores, and to take the time to cook whole-foods-based healthy meals. Most expensive of all are the magnificent home and office makeovers that “Queer Eye” bestows on its heroes that generate breathtaking awe among audiences. Many of season six’s recipients also notably receive brand-new, state-of-the-art Apple computers as part of their fabulously redecorated homes and offices.

Surely any ordinary American’s life would dramatically improve if they were gifted the entire budget of a single episode of “Queer Eye” to spend on their mind, body, and home. The main difference between the before-and-after lives of its heroes is simply money—and lots of it.

Money is rarely, if ever, mentioned explicitly. Instead, “Queer Eye” casts its heroes as being one lucky break away from success rather than constantly on the verge of financial ruin. Before 2020, economic inequality was steadily rising in the United States and was especially stark along racial lines, with Black Americans experiencing the lowest incomes and wealth compared to whites. The pandemic exacerbated this already unfair scenario, with the wealthiest Americans perversely benefitting disproportionately.

But in the world inhabited by “Queer Eye,” there is a meritocracy assumed to be at work, creating a level playing field where those who work hard can achieve the American Dream, and those who fail only do so because they forget to set time aside for self-care. A visit from the fairy god-mothers and -fathers of “Queer Eye” magically wipes away the struggle and perpetuates the myth of self-care-as-panacea in the collective minds of its viewers.

Indeed, “Queer Eye” deliberately promotes the notion of the “deserving poor” (as distinct from the undeserving?). The show’s casting call for season six was specifically aimed at “deserving people, couples, families, friends and coworkers within a 90-minute radius of Austin who could truly benefit from a ‘make-better.’”

The idea that help should only be given to those who deserve it is central to neoliberal economic ideas. While Republicans have championed policies like work requirements for welfare benefits or drug testing for housing assistance, some Democrats have also embraced the idea that those who garner government aid ought to prove they truly deserve it. These are vague standards of morality being set by elites who likely have never had to worry about next month’s rent check bouncing.

Indeed, all of the heroes of “Queer Eye” appear deserving of help. They work hard to a fault, and often need to be reminded of the positive impact they are having on their family or community. Season six’s heroes include an advocate for homeless Austinites, a health care worker running a clinic for low-income communities of color, the founder of a nonprofit shelter for special-needs animals, a struggling rapper whose career was derailed by the pandemic, a cohort of graduating high school seniors at a low-income trade school who barely survived remote learning, and so on. They are people who in a just society would have the kind of support they need from government and social services, or the kind that higher wages can buy, and thus they would not need the aid that “Queer Eye” offers—largesse that is so off-the-charts generous and unlikely that it is akin to winning a lottery ticket.

Many of us can relate to the heroes of “Queer Eye” because we have all been in situations previously or at present, wondering if we can pay next month’s bills, praying that we remain healthy enough to avoid medical bankruptcy, hoping for a job offer with a decent wage, wondering when and how we might pay off student loans, or forgoing vacations because we can’t afford them.

While the problems that the show’s heroes face are all-too-relatable for masses of Americans, most of us will never be lucky enough for a weeklong therapy session and pricey life makeover by the Fab Five. So instead, we fantasize about it while consuming Netflix’s seductive pabulum.

I too have found myself tempted to give in to the fanciful notion that if I could only give myself a fabulous makeover, channeling the charm and self-confidence of the Fab Five while chanting a silent “yas, queen!” at my reflection in the mirror, I would be able to meet life’s demands. It is a tantalizing notion to imagine that we are deserving of success because we work hard and play by the rules of American capitalism. Conversely, if we fail, we must surely be undeserving. And if we are undeserving of help, then we are to blame, rather than the system that perpetuates inequality.

So why is it the responsibility of a reality show, whose aim is to spread heartwarming joy in a bleak world, to shine a light on inequality? In fact, it isn’t. But, in maintaining the myth of the “deserving poor” and of individual and expensive self-care as the elixir to poverty, a popular television show like “Queer Eye” has become part of the maintenance of an unfair status quo.

Here’s a “Queer Eye” Hip Tip: The show’s protagonists would do well to acknowledge and address inequality as a deeply unfair and built-in feature of American capitalism, especially considering that more Americans than ever are aware that the current system is blatantly rigged against them.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    You get a few shows like this where ‘angels’ step in to solve people’s problems by throwing tens of thousands of dollars at them and the Queer Eye guys are no different. But if you do not have one of these angels in your life or the tens of thousands of dollars in help, then how relevant is it to most people in their lives? I would guess as much as that TV program “Island Hunters ‘ which follows rich people in search of an island to buy. What I find both notable and strange is the absence of shows about people bettering their lives as well as their families on a minimal budget that actually reflects life for so many people. So ones teaching people how to grow their own food gardens or how to do basic repairs or how to cook for a family on a minimal budget. Those shows I have never seen. These modern shows like “Queer Eye” are descendants, I find, of the 1950s show “The Millionaire”-

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Never been much for reality shows, but I did enjoy watching Project Runway with my better half and daughter. While there was the allure of hitting it big if you won, they also showed that you could make really nice clothing on a limited budget if you developed the skills, and didn’t need to spend thousands on 5th Avenue to look good.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Ha! #SameSame … the unconventional materials challenge was always something to look forward to! #PR also left us with a few great life hacks:

        “make it work moments”
        “learning to self editing”
        “avoiding interpretations that are too literal”

        I’ve managed to incorporate these into everything from tech to essay writing … :)

      2. Stillfeelinthebern

        The show from Great Britain, Next in Fashion, found on Netflix is so much better. Tan from Queer Eye is one of the hosts. There is none of the fake drama like Project. The creative juice of all the participants is widely varied and the show is generally about having an idea and executing it. Two seasons so far.

        The Great British Sewing Bee is really fantastic if you are at all interested in making things.

        And on the BBC, A Stitch in Time, where they recreate historic garments. This program is amazing!

  2. timbers

    Movies from the eighties / nineties regularly has our lead hero finding free parking often directly in front courthouse/skyscraper/major building located in heavily populated major cities. Often directly across from the front door of the building in question. He just drives into the vacant spot in the middle of say New York, and heads into the building. Love it.

    As a gay male who is at an age of being long past the dating scene of finding a partner and furnishing a home and related consumerism, I can only speak in past tense of an era long gone but many of us remember.

    There is a large – I’ll use the word sub culture though it might be wrong, and it might be wrong also because it may not be a minority but a majority but I can’t say for sure either way – of gay men who are entirely amused in a good way, entertained, and fully tolerant of the men on Quire Eye.

    But men like those on Queer Eye is not what they want in their bed or fantasize about. They might be more attracted to guys who work in garages, construction, use their hands, tradesmen, military, cops, blue collar types, working folk down to earth types. “Corn feed” was a common term used applied you young good looking husky guys. Not to hard to relate that to “Fly Over” country.

    When I was young and single, they type of guys like on Queer Eye I viewed as be asexual. No attraction at all. Amusing, fun, sometimes cruel because judgmental and enforcers of their chosen social norms or picking on those they considered un-cool – but never a possible mate.

    By the way quite by accident I watched the first episode at it’s debut of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. It was a very good laugh but the later episodes generally went down hill. I felt Carson Kressley was speaking to me when he described the color selection of the guest wardrobe as “Oatmeal. That must have been a big color back than.” Of course, I never had a “wardrobe” just clothes. And if I met a guy who did have a wardrobe, it was likely I would not be interested in him because we had very different interests.

    1. Joe Well

      I was once living in a cheap city and mentioned that my half of the rent a two-bedroom apartment was less than the monthly rental on a parking spot in central Boston.

      The person I said this to thought I was joking that people actually rented parking spots by the month.

      The US is a big, big country.

    2. Wukchumni

      TV in particular did away with anything mundane we do, such as eating and going to the bathroom, and you’ll never see a tv show where anybody is actually watching tv, funny that.

      1. sd

        you’ll never see a tv show where anybody is actually watching tv, funny that.

        Here’s the secret why – money. Producers have to pay for the licensing rights of whatever is being shown/heard on the tv as well as bring in a video playback operator with the appropriate equipment. If the producers choose not to use video playback, then it has to be a ‘burn in’ which means an expense for visual effects in post production. The cheap solution – nothing on the tv.

    3. CoryP

      I’m a gay man in my 30s and I agree that the hosts seem asexual to me. In fact, I find them grating and sometimes feel annoyed that this is the pop culture portrayal of gay men.

      But this is problematic and very possibly internalized homophobia from my conservative upbringing. Because people like this surely exist and deserve to be represented like anyone else.

      That said, though not exactly “corn-fed”, I was much more comfortable with the portrayal in Queer As Folk (US).

      The characters would still set off my gay-dar but on the whole tended to be less…. “extra” (sorry, outdated slang. and yeah the show sucks from an objective POV but it has a special place in my heart having watched it as a teenager)

  3. aletheia33

    Queen for a Day.
    movies in the 1930s.
    fairy tales, with all the trappings of royalty, sell well especially in hard times.
    the show is simply a manifestation of how badly people crave such diversions now.

    and this article, while well worth reading, is in its own way a manifestation of the very problem the author intends to describe. the voice is genteel. what is especially interesting to me here is that the author is so ready to allow as how the show’s makers may uncynically believe that the show they are putting on is doing something more than just purveying a happy dream and is benefitting the audience and US society in some concrete way.

    hey jr, can you take this one down?

    the final “hip tip” made me LOL.
    as if the medium is not the message.

      1. Glen

        Yes indeed. I’m watching My Man Godfrey right now. Sort of a mixed bag about mocking the rich since the “hero” is also rich, but a good example of a 1936 comedy.

  4. Tex

    Isn’t the purpose of the entertainment industry to increase shareholder value? I’ve never seen it, but It sounds like this show does a pretty good job entertaining its viewers. Why fix what’s not broken?

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Indeed. I was thinking the other day that there are whole channels on TV now that basically serve as avenues for advertising. It feels less like there’s content created for certain channel, but rather that there’s a desire to sell advertising and the channel and content are created to do so.

        1. John

          All channels on TV with a vanishingly few exceptions are avenues for advertising and advertising is public relations with a narrow application and if you rearrange the letters in public relations you find ‘crap built on lies’, which is not inapt description of all advertising and most tv.

        2. skippy

          Michael Moore’s old show The Awful Truth on HBO where he highlighted Corporate malfeasance had advertising. Part of the show was him on the theater stage with live audience and during one show asked the audience why would the very same Corporate businesses he attacked want to put ad time on his show – of all things.

          In dead pan he said they only care about a shows ratings and how it translates to eyeball market share. Basically if you had a media show that was proven to have a gross negative effect on individuals and society at large, but had top rankings, they would pay a premium and fight for advertising space with competitors.

  5. Boomheist

    Until this post I never even knew such a show existed, which says something about my TV consumption, but the first thought that came to me was, does anyone know how the “winners” of the previous five seasons have fared since they received their makeover (if that is what this largesse should be called)? Important, no? I think in the show “The Biggest Loser” which was another reality show nearly everyone who magically became a cut, lean god during the show ended up with the extra weight again. I’m curious where the winners in this show, years on, are now. My suspicion is, unless they somehow radically increased their annual income, they’re pretty much where they were before going on this show, except now they have won and lost the miracle, meaning, they are surely twice as frustrated, disappointed, and unhappy as before, because now, having had the largesse and lost it, they will feel even more of a failure. So, in the end, if this speculation is true, this show in a hugely ironic way is itself a further confirmation of the horrible economic system we have chosen.

  6. MarkT

    UK TV drama has gone exactly the same way. I was remarking about it to my partner last week. Police inspectors drive cars that must be way out of their salary range. And the average family appears to live way beyond their means. It’s not just their homes and vehicles: almost without fail, every couple opens a bottle of wine with dinner each evening. I recently stopped watching an Australian production when it turned out that the lead character, an ex police inspector turned private detective, lived alone in an expansive modern loft conversion in downtown Melbourne or Sydney. I found this particularly galling, given the current crisis of housing affordability in cities like these. Contrast all of this with the simple lifestyles and egalitarian ethos of “Inspector Frost” or “Columbo” and you realise how far we have sunk.

    1. Discouraged in WI

      I’ve often thought that we will never again see a show with an apartment like that shown in “The Honeymooners”.

    2. ambrit

      Consider that, alongside “Inspector Morse” and “Colombo” were ultra escapist ‘crime’ shows like “Magnum PI,” “The Avengers,” “Burke’s Law,” etc. etc. The two sorts of programs existed comfortably side by side. There were seen to be viable audiences for both. So, to me, the marker of “how low we’ve sunk” is that I see no ‘gritty’ realistic police and crime shows currently running. (I include shows such as “CSI” and “Law and Order” as ‘escapist’ because their depictions of ‘police procedure’ are fanciful and unrealistic.)
      As another commentrix mentioned recently, I am tempted to dig out my copy of “Hot Fuzz” for a rewatching, if only for the satire on police shows in general.
      “Hot Fuzz” trailer:

  7. Michael Hudson

    So it’s all “Blame the victim.”
    If you don’t have a home like that you haven’t done what it takes to succeed: a trust fund.
    Next time around, choose more affluent parents.

      1. QuicksilverMessenger

        That reminds of the post yesterday about color (and lack of) in films nowadays: Everything dark, gray, smoky and drab. And who wouldn’t say our culture now is ‘unspiritual’? Go toward the Technicolor!

  8. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    The poducers of these things- TeeVee shows, commercials, movies, documentaries, &c. All live in wonderfully appointed houses with ultrmodern doodads. So they naturally assume everyone else does. Or wants to. Chomsky has a rap about the creation of artificial needs.

  9. Dannie

    Keep turning Americans’ stomachs with this Hollywood cultural crap and Trump will look like Mother Teresa by comparison after the next election. No wonder people are cutting the cord on cable TV. It’s like having a sewer pipe empty into your living room.

    1. QuicksilverMessenger

      Yes I was kind of thinking the same thing, ‘cutting the cord on cable’.

      I don’t know too many people anymore who are watching anything with ‘commercials’ in between programs. It’s all streaming. My daughter doesn’t watch anything with ‘commercial breaks’ and I certainly don’t. May be a demographic thing.

      But to Yves and the writer’s point, the content of the programming has a kind of ‘unseen’ atmosphere to it that presents a certain ‘accepted reality’, that when you see something that suddenly runs counter to it, it makes you pull up.
      I was watching Paper Moon last night and I was a little shocked at the ending. Ryan O’Neal’s character drops the kid (Tatum O’Neal, 10 years old) off at her aunt and drives away, leaving her there for good. Next scene he pulls over on a lone dirt road and lights a cigarette (something that comes with a warning now at the beginning of a show!). He turns back and sees Tatum running down the road with her suitcase, a kind of would be emotive reunion scene.
      But no. Instead of what we expect these days (a tear, a reunion, all is happy) he says in an angry tone, “I told you- I don’t want you riding with me anymore!”. Then the camera looks at her, pauses for a second as we are almost expecting her to cry, and she says “You still owe me $200!”. Different eras

  10. Dave in Austin

    “Reality show”? You must be kidding. Cinderella and Prince Charming stories go way back but nobody except young children ever thought they were reality.

    I think it was Pat Weaver, Sigorney’s father and the President of one of the three TV networks in the 1960s, who told his staff: “Remember, our job is to deliver eyeballs to advertisers”.

    The wish fulfillment shows on reruns like Big Bang Theory all feature a message; in Bang’s case the message is “all that angst ridden science PHDs need to be happy is a nice smiling, slightly snide blonde girl”. And the adds delivered to those harried former Cinderellas’ eyeballs? Rooms To Go (rent furniture at high interest rates) and ambulance chasing lawyers (Get Rich Quick!; the lower class version of the Antique Road Show’s million dollar Navajo rug).

    Speaking of wish fulfillment, have you noticed the adds on NFL football, which is one of the few shows watched by Black males? Intact Black families with one Black wife and two Black kids, all living in the suburbs in a nice house with a huge kitchen, pile into a big SUV and go camping in an empty, uninhabited wilderness… and no traffic jams at all.

    No Traffic… now that’s the real modern American fantasy we all share. Ignore the shows and watch the adds; that’s where the real action is. And who advertises on Queer eye?…

    1. Jeff W

      I think it was Pat Weaver, Sigorney’s father and the President of one of the three TV networks in the 1960s, who told his staff: “Remember, our job is to deliver eyeballs to advertisers”.

      UMASS Communications Professor Sut Jhally said

      In fact, looking at from an industrial point of view, looking at it from the marketplace, advertisers are the real customers of media. They are the buyers who provide the billions of revenues that the media industry is hooked on. What is produced, the commodity that is produced, what they’re buying, is us. It is the audience, or more specifically, it is our time, and, even more specifically, our consciousness* that is the central commodity…In fact, commercial media are not in the message making business. They are in the “consciousness selling” business and that is an important distinction. What they are selling is consciousness and they’re selling our consciousness.

      [emphasis added]

      From Jhally’s perspective, viewers are the literal workers in the factory of the living room—watching the ads is their work, seeing the programming is their pay. The advertisers pay the media companies for the end product—the viewers’ watching of the ads. The messages (e.g., the liberal economic fantasies of Queer Eye) “are simply a tool that capital uses to organize us in a particular way.”

      *Personally, I would not characterize the commodity as “consciousness” per se but rather “active watching of ads” which the advertisers take as a proxy for potential buying behavior.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Also: are the workers voting with their eyes then when we see a shift of the most highly watched series – now in the online era especially – coming from non-broadcast, non-commercial-ad-supported networks?

        Long Winded Response Deleted

        This becomes a useless point to debate once you realize the level of consolidation across broadcast channel types. ViacomCBS is a good example. They got a soup-to-nuts suite under their roof – regular broadcast, cable broadcast, and premium (ShowTime). So they can sell eyeballs for the ad-workers, and subscriptions for those escaping the 20-mintues-of-ads-for-an-hour-long-program horror.

        Sigh … monopoly.

  11. JerryDenim

    “The show’s protagonists would do well to acknowledge and address inequality as a deeply unfair and built-in feature of American capitalism”

    Great critique, but I’m not sure the viewers or the advertisers would approve of the author’s concluding recommendation, I would think that type of message would shatter the escapist fantasy and ruin the fun for everyone. The second half of that sentence – “… more Americans than ever are aware that the current system is blatantly rigged against them.” links to a video with a transcript that states: “About seven-in-ten Americans said that they think the economic system is unfair and generally favors powerful special interests.”

    Everyone except for the most brain dead Republicans and Limousine-liberal centrists knows living in the USA sucks for anyone not in the top decile and the game is blatantly rigged to favor the top 1%. People are living with consequences of that harsh reality daily and they desperately want to forget that truth, not have it rubbed in their faces while they are trying to relax in front of the tube. What troubles me is high school history books are just as unmoored from the realities of class politics and income inequality as escapist television programming, that should definitely change.

  12. Bill

    “Women when threatened by men are supposed to turn into simpering heaps unless they are Asian ninja girls or cops, and those categories sometimes overlap.” How many TV shows depict women turning into simpering heaps this way? I don’t tend to watch network TV much, but I suspect you’d be hard-pressed to come up with one TV series or movie on Netflix depicting average women this way. My perception is that there are lots of TV shows with female cops, FBI agents, ninjas, superheroes, etc. who exhibit violent behavior, mainly against men, these days, and so the norm for how women are depicted has changed. I can’t watch every TV show, so I don’t know for sure, but I don’t see how the social value of women being simpering heaps in the face of male aggression is being aggressively enforced by TV.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      All the major crime shows. Chicago PD. Chicago Fire. Law and Order SVU. Blue Bloods. Hawaii Five-0.

      Law and Order SVU has run 23 years and is signed up for a 24th.

      And to be clear, I mean in response to a serious threat of physical violence, not verbal taunts.

      1. Bill

        I haven’t watched those so I’ll take your word for it. Still, I don’t think women want to see themselves as simpering heaps as opposed to capable cops, etc. There are certainly tons more of the latter in TV shows now than when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. This may be having a social impact as well.

        1. ambrit

          The cynic in me sees your latter point, “…There are certainly tons more of (capable cops) in TV shows now…” as indicitive of social engineering via mass media more than any change in the composition of the actual population (cops) being portrayed.
          All the news recently about the “Intelligence Community” financing movies and TV shows leads one inescapably to the conclusion that what is really being purchased is influence upon the Public mind.
          This goes way back. The history of the Paris Review is the Ur-story about moderne social propaganda.

  13. Elizabeth

    I hate “reality shows” – have never seen Queer Eye, but it sounds like its main goal is to reinforce our consumer-based culture – things will make you happy, especially if you’re deserving of such things. As you say, there are two types of poor- the deserving and undeserving. I’ve known people who espouse this belief – the undeserving poor usually have a drug or alcohol ( 0r other destructive problem,) so they. deserve to be poor. The deserving work hard (2-3 jobs), play by the rules and perform virtuous community acts. These kind of stories come under “There’s Good News Tonight.”

    As an aside, last night I saw an ad for Botox which had a man who was supposed to be a cosmetologist. He was simply preening after his injections – and you know, of course, his life will be SO much better.

    We live in a sick society.

  14. Susan the other

    About “Queer Eye” – I’ve never seen it. But I’d bet that if the cute little stars of the show were actually ordinary looking people with no interest in promoting themselves as ‘cuter than you’ then nobody would watch. We have a tendency to stare at (as in the art of watching TV) cute, good looking people. And even in the real world “cute” has an advantage – they get jobs easier; they are more convincing – on a subtle level but it is there. They can be dumb as stumps and still maintain an advantage. The one consolation for all us Ordinaries is that the cute folk are no happier than the rest of us. The big fraud, on both sides of cuteness (the haves and the have-nots) is that cuteness and all its accessories don’t make anybody any happier. So, with that in mind, it seems like pure denial at best, intentional fraud at worst, that advertising and a show that is itself pure advertisement from start to finish is not recognized as fraud. So where does fraud as entertainment get off easy? There should be a law against it like any other fraud. That would be a sea change.

    1. skippy

      Religion was once described as the opiate of the masses … in most developed countries it has been replaced by consumerist marketing … even the prior has embraced its divine gifts like Hill Song et al –

      Hillsong is a megachurch that has been described by popular music scholar Tom Wagner as a “confluence of sophisticated marketing techniques and popular music”.[3] The music of Hillsong United and Hillsong Worship are credited with driving Hillsong’s global popularity.[3] Through the 1980s and 1990s, the congregation grew from 45 members to nearly 20,000 and emerged as a significant influence in the area of contemporary worship music. This was a result of strategic marketing that targeted younger generations and Hillsong’s success at establishing itself as a global music standard.[4]

      Having accomplished that its just a hop, skip and jump to Prosperity theology and Creationism and Intelligent Design should be taught in schools.

      Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith)[A] is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.[1]

      So the entire project started off as a marketing project targeting youth through Christian music and live music festival events, of which, translates to revenue and the power to shape demand from its consumer base. Best bit is once hooked they can use this music to indoctrinate youth into all the other good stuff whilst drawing a line between them and everyone else for product branding which will transition to their next generation and its revenue.

      Btw no longer a member of the Assemblies of God Churches.

      1. Soredemos

        Marx’s point was that religion provided comfort for people with no other recourse. Hard to believe consumerism is comforting anyone.

        1. skippy

          “The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

          Which is why I used it, one illusion just substitutes the other in the consumerist market case, and the Hill Song utilized both illusions.

          On that note here in Oz –

          With people nationwide condemning the government’s decision to forego fining Hillsong Church for very clearly defying public health rules, further insult has been added to injury by the lack of police presence and sniffer dogs, which have been a common addition to the festival scene for years. – snip

          Public health rules = covid restrictions.

          Further the Police Commish Fuller was PM SFM neighbor when he was treasurer.

          Hay Boris just had a garden party and look at the mess that got him into …

  15. Thistlebreath

    These are out of favor now but way back decades ago, there were network shows like “Beauty Pageant Secrets Exposed!”

    It quickly becomes clear that a small number of cosmetic surgeons work on the same contest hopefuls. No surprise that there are resemblances.

    Six years later, a show that paved the way to new social acceptance was “The Swan”

    Cosmetic procedures were lauded as a path to fulfillment.

  16. Sound of the Suburbs

    The inequality problem is a lot easier to explain than you think.
    I have looked at a slightly longer timeline and it has all become clear.

    Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 – 48, observed what the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics did to the US economy in the 1920s.
    “a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped”

    A few people have all the money and everyone else gets by on debt.

    Is that why Keynes added redistribution?
    Yes, it stopped all the wealth concentrating at the top.
    A strong, healthy middle class developed in the US.

    Reagan removed the redistribution and inequality soared as things returned to the old normal of neoclassical economics.

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      Oh yeah!
      We normally start in the 1970s, when Keynesian economics was going wrong.
      No one has ever thought of looking at what came before the Keynesian era.

      The build up to 1929 and 2008 look so similar because they are.
      At 18 mins.

      In the 1930s, you worked out what had inflated the stock market to such ridiculous levels in 1929.
      1) Share buybacks
      2) The use of bank credit for margin lending.

      The lessons that were learned after 1929 were gradually forgotten.

      The US stock market is doing really well with share buybacks and margin lending driving prices ever higher.
      A former US congressman has been looking at the data.
      He is a bit worried, hardly surprising really.

      Look at the slightly longer timeline and it all becomes clear.

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