Monday, January 7, 2019

Queer Eye, My Daughter, and I

I'll Explain This Photo Below, Stay With Me

My daughter and I had made a date to binge watch all of Queer Eye reboot on Netflix when she was home from school on break, and we wrapped up Season Two just last night. When she was younger we were frequent watchers the previous Queer Eye and so were interested in seeing the new cast and spin.
Like the original, the new show effectively states and reinforces several very positive messages, both societal and personal. The general message of the show is be accepting, of both yourself and others, but also that  to be accepting is not to be complacent, nor should we settle on anything less than what we as individuals or a society are fully capable of. “Acceptable” is not acceptable in the Queer Eye world, except as a stepping stone to growth, improvement, and self-actualization.  We shouldn't settle on "tolerance" as the realization of a goal, but we should work through it to get to understanding, friendship, community and love. 

A second overall message we saw is the idea we should seek and maintain relationships that feed and sustain us. Many of the episodes we watched featured a key relationship in the “project’s” life, and the ancillary goal to making over the project was always to improve that relationship, whether it was with  a spouse, a significant other, parent, or friend. The episode “Burning Man” was an excellent example of this, as after the makeover the project decided not to move from Georgia to Reno because, once he’d taken on some improvement and motivation, he had everything he needed, and dozens of strong relationships, (including the one with the friend who called the squad on him, who we are informed in the end credits is now in a romantic relationship with him), right where he is. The idea we are left with is that we should be continually looking to better ourselves, because that leads to the inspiration and betterment of others and society.

These messages are constantly reinforced by the overall positivity and acceptance of the team, who speak very frankly about the projects self-defeating behaviors and characteristics but immediately turn into a high-energy “hype squad” the moment the project makes an effort and starts to show incremental improvement. All of their comments are carried forward with such candor, sincerity, and good humor that they can’t help but resonate deeply with the project. Who wouldn’t want a crew of friends, fabulous or otherwise, who wish us nothing but the best at all times, who constantly reinforce the idea that the efforts we make are appreciated and achieve the results we were hoping to?
We felt that the reboot really focused on that positivity, foregoing much of the snark that made the first run so great. There is very little negativity among the hosts, either with each other or in the "post makeover" segments like there was in QE1; the harsh criticism all comes in the first meetings and from then on it is positive vibes all the way. I'd have to re-watch the first run, but it felt like there was more physical affection among the new Fab Five.

Beyond what we saw as the overarching messages of the show, we felt each team member was tasked with conveying a very specific message in nearly every episode. Broadly, they are:

KARAMO: Step up, take responsibility for yourself, continually improve, put yourself out there, grow, learn from mistakes but always move forward

TAN: Make an effort with your physical appearance for yourself and others, because doing so will increase your confidence and alter the way others perceive you in a positive way

BOBBY: Create and maintain a physical environment that encourage productivity, creativity, and inner harmony

ANTONI: Make nutrition enjoyable and healthy, use the culinary arts to enhance your enjoyment of life and enhance the lives of people you love

JONATHAN: Take care of yourself physically, don’t feel guilty about treating yourself as someone special because you are and others think you are as well 

This, of course, led us to giving ourselves ratings on the Fab Five scale: Here’s what I would say for myself in honest assessment, 5 being the best, 1 being the worst:

KARAMO—4.  I think I do well with all of his messages but the “put yourself out there” one.

TAN—1. I rarely “Make an effort” at home or at work. I have some nice clothes that I like and break out for special occasions but that’s about it. Kayleigh clearly beats me on the Tan scale

BOBBY—3. I love my basement office, it is mostly me but it is cluttered and dirty. The rest of the house I love too but isn’t optimized for space or decorated fully.

ANTONI:--2 I rarely cook for Kim, and when I do I fearfully need to ask her for instructions most of the time. It is weird because I love good food more than garbage food but never take the time. Kim would score much higher than me but we often settle (Kayleigh gave herself a 1).

JONATHAN:--2 I would be a one except for the fact that I run which probably falls under his grooming and physical appearance specialty, so I’m at least trying to get better. But other than showering regularly and shaving my head I don’t--shockingly--do anything for my appearance or use product of any nature at all.
So, twelve out of a possible 25 points. I've a long way to go to be fully actualized. I have a theory that I think is pretty interesting, though--I think scoring high in "Karamo" is probably the most necessary of the factors, but I also think that an initial high score in "Karamo" may actually make you more complacent in the other four! What do you think?
Our final verdict: we loved the show, and loved especially the energy and positive spirit it infused us with. A happy accident, but the show turned out to be a perfect vehicle to encourage a high-octane start to the new year and drive those resolutions and goals forward.
So why the above picture? Well, it is of a moment where I felt as close to being self-actualized as any in 2018 (not a great year overall, as I've mentioned). And if I was to use the QEII rating scale, I would go all the way to a 23. I'm holding a copy Sei Ancora Qui, of the Italian edition of Break My Heart 1,000 Times, and I'm in town for the premiere of I Still See You, the movie based on that book, so clearly I get a 5 for the Karamo factor, its a rare moment where I 'd give myself a 5 on the Tan factor because I like what I'm wearing and I'm comfortable in it, I'm in a beautiful hotel--in Rome--and so I get 5 Bobby points, Antoni would surely approve of the beautiful meal we ate at a host-recommended restaurant that night, so 5 points there, too. Sadly, I only get three Jonathan points, because I still don't know how to take care of my bald head, and I'd managed to give myself a nice two inch gash with my Headblade just above my right ear that I wasn't sure would clot before I had to come downstairs for the photoshoot. Thankfully, this photo--and that rare and winning smile--obscures the gore.
Basically, I'm posting that photo as a reminder that I really can experience moments were I am as close to my fully actualized, real, and most importantly, happy self. It makes me wonder why I would complacently lurk around at a number nearly half that score most of my day to day existence. I think I want to be the guy in that photo more often this year.
Why settle when you can experience and achieve more?
Why be acceptable when you can be fabulous?
Why tolerate when you can understand and love?

Show some love (or at least tolerance) and buy one of my books HERE 

No comments: