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Like many other people, Jonathan Van Ness closed out 2020 with an emotional Instagram post that highlighted his gratitude for what he has amidst a difficult year.

But this post contained a revelation: The Queer Eye star and one of today's modern day saints has officially tied the knot.

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TV News

A Rom-Com About Antoni Porowski's Sexually Fluid Love Life Is Coming to Netflix

Antoni Porowski's romantic escapades are coming to the big screen.

Netflix's reboot of Queer Eye is a beacon of light in dark times (despite its occasionally capitalist leanings).

Each of its five stars is beloved by fans in their own right, but other than Jonathan Van Ness, no Queer Eye star has captured the public's hearts like Antoni Porowski, resident food and wine expert.


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TV

"Queer Eye" Season 4 Continues to Glorify Late Capitalism

"Queer Eye" acts like a show that makes people's lives better. It actually promotes extremely dangerous ideas.

Queer Eye is a difficult show to criticize.

This is mostly thanks to its stars, Antoni, Jonathan, Bobby, Karamo, and Tan, each of whom radiate a well-balanced combination of kindness and charisma that makes you want to protect them at all costs. So, Fab Five, if you're reading this: It's not you—it's capitalism.

To be clear, the word capitalism (in this article) doesn't refer to good old-fashioned free market competition. It refers to the mutation that is neoliberal capitalism; which promotes unchecked, limitless accumulation; which revolves around massive, resource-sucking corporations; and which thrives off unsustainable income inequality.

Also known as late capitalism, this phrase "describes the hypocrisy and absurdities of capitalism as it digs its own grave," according to the economist Kimberly Amadeo. In spite of all its sweetness and positivity, Queer Eye is built on the foundation of neoliberal capitalism.

Money Fixes Everything

Queer Eye's entire concept is predicated on the idea that each of the "fixer-uppers" featured in each episode is desperately in need of remedying. And almost always, even though their actions and conversations may seem to imply otherwise, money is the answer.

While Karamo's life-coach role is the least firmly rooted in capitalist values, as he's more focused on internal worlds, each of the other Fab Five's tasks promote the message that redemption and happiness can be achieved with cash, and cash alone. Jonathan Van Ness and Tan France focus on exterior appearances, through hair, grooming, and clothing—all of which, needless to say, require money, and promote capitalist idealization of style and beauty.

Similarly, Bobby's exquisite renovations are probably the most expensive projects on the show. His extraordinary work, though satisfying during the big reveal, promotes illusory expectations as to how a home ought to look and how quickly renovations can happen. A renovation like Bobby's would be immensely complex and stressful for any ordinary working person, especially someone trying to DIY it.

Antoni's recipes, to his credit, are a bit less innocuous. Often, they're accessible projects for the ordinary working person who's not inclined to culinary endeavors. Interestingly, his methods have also faced the most media scrutiny of all, with professional chefs and the Internet alike criticizing him for the "simplicity" of his recipes.

This dislike for Antoni's recipes reveals that not only do viewers buy into Queer Eye's capitalist values. They watch because of them—because of the shiny, glitzy, quick-fix rush. This is because these values align neatly with what we've always been taught, both through subliminal advertising and American culture: that if we just change ourselves enough, if we just whip ourselves into shape enough, we'll somehow "make it."

The catch to this mentality is that there's never an end point. You never do "make it." In capitalism, "making it" requires constant maintenance, plucking, purchasing, and striving; and the more you have, the more there is to do. Capitalism is a cycle of self-loathing, instant gratification, brief happiness, and then self-loathing that re-emerges when the paint on that happiness starts to chip.

But capitalism thrives on that promise of happiness. "When we are constantly bombarded with advertisements tailored for us and pills that can cure our every ailment, it is easy to care for your own happiness and nothing else," writes one contributor to the Vanderbilt Political Review in a post about Queer Eye's emphasis on self-gratification.


Individualism, Just Slightly Less Rugged

A lot of Queer Eye's messages revolve around the idea that individualism and independence are the highest forms of being. Like capitalism, the show encourages individualism while discouraging individuality. It criticizes quirky clothing choices, faded favorite chairs, empty cabinets, and unfashionable hairstyles, promoting beauty standards and glorifying new, unblemished purchases—a progression that automatically produces waste.

Of course, it's more complicated than that. It's not like the Fab Five discourage uniqueness, as they often make the people they visit feel incredibly celebrated for who they are. And it's not all about individualism: The season 4 episode about John Stoner focuses on his relationship with his daughter, not solely on his own self-improvement. Still, though, in the Fab Five's methods, Stoner can only show his love for his daughter through objects, through cooking, dressing nicely for her skating competition, and placing shiny objects in his home in order to make her feel welcome.

All this isn't to say that the Fab Five are anything less than angels, or that Jonathan Van Ness isn't actually Jesus Christ reborn. In fact, a lot of the ways the show treats people is inspiring and, at times, even anticapitalist, in so far as uplifting people who help others but don't get recognized themselves. It's an admirable concept, one that contradicts systems of corporate profit and greed.

To their credit, the Queer Eye team may even temporarily change lives. Still, the thing about makeovers is that they fade away after one shower. The team leaves the people they visit with short-term solutions and blueprints for lives that are probably going to be unaffordable in the end. Plus, the opportunities they offer and the changes they encourage are often unattainable to most ordinary people.

Queer Eye, therefore, is uplifting in the way that a shot of tequila is uplifting. It might make you feel warm and fuzzy for a while, as you watch lives apparently get fixed before your eyes, but then it leaves you with a headache when the glamour fades and you're left to face real life.


Social Justice, Late Capitalism Style

Even Queer Eye's dedication to social justice may be part of a marketing strategy. According to Amadeo, one of the defining characteristics of late capitalism is that it often relies on "the immorality of corporations using social issues to advance their brand."

Queer Eye's fourth season does just this. It emphasizes the show's social justice angle, focusing on an array of extraordinary people who are very much deserving of praise.

Unfortunately, the show uses social justice as a vehicle for its capitalist ideology. This becomes clear when you take a closer look at how the show handles things like disability. A Quartz article called out, "Queer eye demonstrates how we can show disability, but still fail to represent it," essentially making the same arguments as this article but through the specific focus on the disabled community. "Throughout these scenes, we see Wesley and the Fab Five repeatedly discussing [Wesley's] eventual independence," its authors write. "Access to independent living is undeniably an important tenet of disability rights advocacy. But support systems and care networks are a crucial part of this advocacy."

Indeed, Queer Eye's emphasis on individualism and quick-fixes, rather than interdependence and societal adjustment to systemic oppression, may be its central flaw. "The episode's emphasis on personal independence at the expense of interdependence is echoed by its failure to address the fact that individual 'fixes' are only necessary because of a societal failure to address systemic design flaws, and will never be enough to create meaningful access," continues the article.

The show uses queerness in a similar way. Queer people started out as a group rejected by capitalism. Not fitting into the mold of the nuclear family, they were forced to create alternative ways of life. However, after the LGBTQ+ community gained mainstream acceptance, capitalism was quick to commodify them, effectively "selling" them the "straight" life that had previously been inaccessible...all under the guise of compassion.

This is visible in the onslaught of "rainbow capitalism," which has resulted in Pride parades across the world being stained by Citibank floats. It's also been instrumental in the massive success of Queer Eye, which first found its niche by guiding men who struggle with their masculinity towards realms traditionally marketed to women only—like makeup and home improvement. Of course, this merely reinstates old capitalist norms.

"Give a man a makeover and you fix him for a day," writes Laurie Penny in her excellent article, The Queer Art of Failing Better. "Teach a man that masculinity under late capitalism is a toxic pyramid scheme that is slowly killing him just like it's killing the world, and you might just fix a sucking hole in the future."


Taking What We Can Get

While there are so, so many good things about Queer Eye (have you seen the way Antoni looks at Corgis?) the show might be easier to appreciate if it wasn't centered around the very ideals that are on track to destroy the world. After all, late capitalism encourages income inequality, thrives on racial and social divides, and is stalling action on climate change. And if our most beloved media glorifies it, how can we expect to break free from it? How can we, for example, expect to elect politicians who will tax us more, asking us to forgo our newest renovation for food stamp programs and long-term investments in renewable energy? That's why we can't let shows like Queer Eye off the hook, as lovable as their cast may be and as touching as their storylines are. There's a lot it's doing right, but for a show that presents itself like it has humanity's best interests at heart, it could do so much better.

All this being said, Queer Eye is still doing important, meaningful work. It's a vast improvement from, say, The Kardashians, or other forms of reality television. Those shows celebrate synthetic stars and their absurd abuse of wealth, and at least Queer Eye honors real people, and gives voice to their real lives and struggle.

Also, Queer Eye is different because it promotes kindness. People are nice to each other on the show; they respect each others' differences, and encourage vulnerability and connection. While it's important to be critical of Queer Eye's capitalist core, that doesn't mean we can't appreciate its compassionate veneer.

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CULTURE

From Fake Allies to Gay Ambassadors: How Celebrities Celebrate Pride Month

Let's not get confused about what it means to be an ally.

Every Pride Month is a long overdue celebration that recognizes and embraces marginalized identities, combats histories steeped in oppression and violent hate crimes, and gives soulless, opportunistic capitalists a ready-made marketing campaign for all of June.

The corporatization of Pride Month is nothing new; throughout Pride's 50-year history, companies have capitalized on support from the LGBTQ+ community in attempts to increase profits. But in an age when celebrities are no more than brands, they cash in on Pride for publicity and monetary gain just as much as companies do. Thankfully, there are also true celebrity activists who are active members and allies of the queer community. With rates of hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individuals approaching all-time highs, let's not get confused about what it means to be an ally.

While we get to enjoy a full month of queer positivity, learn to identify which messages are about outreach and activism and which ones are just trying to sell Pride as a product. From the regal Neil Patrick Harris becoming a gay ambassador in Tel Aviv to the cave-dwelling Donald Trump diving below our expectations to sell his own Pride t-shirts, we've categorized celebrity celebrations of Pride Month by their true intentions.

CAPITALISM:

In honor of Pride, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband, Justin Mikita, opened a pop-up shop of their bow tie Company, The Tie Bar, in New York City. He announced its grand opening on Instagram, posting, "The @tietheknotorg pride pop up is officially open! Come check it out and pick up all your pride merch henney!!! Shout out to @geronimo who created the fab balloon installation! ❤️ 🌈."

It's lovely that he and his husband share a love of bow ties; but, in the press, Ferguson encouraged customers to shop for their "Pride needs," as if supporting the LGBTQ+ community requires rainbow-themed accessories. "We have been wanting to do something big for Pride for years," he said, "so I am so excited for this collaboration with The Tie Bar building the go-to collection and location for all your Pride needs."

As a concept, Pride merchandise is a frankly gross commodification of LGBTQ+ support, especially considering that most of the profits from selling rainbow merchandise don't fund support for the community. However, while Ferguson and Mikita get free publicity from their pop-up shop, they do donate a portion of the profits to Tie the Knot, a non-profit organization that fights for global marriage equality.

Lance Bass and LeeAnne Locken say to celebrate the Stonewall Uprising with vodka. The 40-year-old NSYNC singer and Real Housewives of Dallas star participated in the 2019 Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic in Key West. On Instagram, he posted an ad for Stoli's limited edition "Spirit of Stonewall" bottle, decorated with Lisa Marie Thalhammer's mural of the same name, located in Key West. Bass wrote, "Checking out the 'Spirit of Stonewall' mural in #KeyWest painted by @lisamariestudio this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising! #ad You can check out the art on @Stoli's new limited-edition Spirit of Stonewall bottle too – available on ReserveBar now! #stolipride #LoudandClear #keywestcocktailclassic."

Following up last year's Harvey Milk-themed bottles, Stoli will donate a portion of its "Spirit of Stonewall" sales to the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, which combats bigotry and intolerance through awareness campaigns, educational programming, fundraising and candid public dialogue. That's great and all, but with companies using "cause marketing" to boost sales since 1983, most companies put low caps and strict stipulations on how much they end up donating; and they always end up profiting more than they give from their good-will marketing.

LOVE:

Neil Patrick Harris says he's not a gay icon. But he and husband David Burtka recently traveled to Israel to celebrate Tel Aviv Pride with 250,000 other attendees. The June march is the largest pride parade in the Middle Eastern region, and Harris was named this year's International Ambassador. He took to Instagram to express his gratitude: "Pride. Love. Life. Thank you for having us as International Ambassadors #telavivpride, the outpouring of positivity was truly overwhelming. #grateful @dbelicious"

Afterwards, Harris told The Associated Press that he has "no interest in being a representative or an ambassador for anything except my kids." He added, "I'm just a guy who is married to another guy and we have kids and we live our lives I would say as 'normally' as one would. But I think normal is a very subjective term, especially in the gay community." He added, "It's nice to appreciate where we've come from," he said. "I'm very grateful that I live in a time and in a world where the needle has moved a lot because of others and I'm happy to promote the positivity of it all."

Like Lance Bass, Jonathan Van Ness is also celebrating Pride with vodka—but the difference is that Van Ness' partnership with Smirnoff reflects the company's long-standing and transparent commitment to advocating for LGBTQ+ issues. This year, Smirnoff's "Welcome Home" campaign includes a digital video series, an immersive pop-up store, and limited edition bottles featuring the word "Welcome" in six different languages and a "Love wins" design that features photographs of real same-sex couples who submitted their photos for inclusion. $1 from each bottle is donated to the Human Rights campaign.

The beloved non-binary member of the Queer Eye foursome joins Alyssa Edwards and Laverne Cox in partnering with Smirnoff. Van Ness says, "When we first started [working together] Smirnoff had pledged to contribute $1.5 million to the HRC by 2021, which I'm was so excited about, and [Smirnoff is] staying true to that and I just think that is amazing." On Instagram, he's posted his own message of Pride ahead of hosting Smirnoff's "House of Pride' experience in New York City from June 26 to June 28. He writes, "Happy Pride loves 💕💙 Time to celebrate with your LGBTQ fam & allies alike to celebrate the diversity that makes everyone stronger! 🌈🌈💕"

HELL:

Now that Taylor Swift's finally gotten political after years of silence, she's trying to "cash in on her LGBTQ+ fanbase." Her latest single, "You Need to Calm Down," so blatantly panders to the queer community that it tokenizes support of the LGBTQ+ community as a trendy fad. With cringey, careless rhymes like, "Why are you mad when you could be GLAAD," Swift's lazy wannabe gay anthem is insultingly blasé about the dire encroachment on queer people's rights. Additionally, Swift has effectively minimized Pride as a fashion statement and queerbaited her fans with clear allusions to bisexuality in the video's imagery and her costumes.

To her credit, Swift has taken legitimate steps towards LGBTQ+ activism, such as posting an open letter to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander urging him to support the Equality Act, a landmark bill that would legally protect American LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.

But, still, "You Need to Calm Down" is such a horrendous song.


At no one's request, Joe Biden visited Stonewall this week. He appeared at the iconic bar and bought a round of drinks. Again, members of the queer community disapproved of being treated like a bargaining chip for publicity and personal gain. As Left Voice wrote, "This is the type of allyship that Democrats have always given and will always give: support for marginalized groups when it is politically popular and complicity in their oppression when support is no longer politically popular."

As one Twitter user wrote, "Get the fuck out of Stonewall you aren't an ally Biden. You voted for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that hurt the LGBTQ community. Full fucking Stop. #JoeBiden #NeverJoe"


Trump sells Pride T-Shirts now. The back reads, "Make America Great Again," and the website's description says, "Show your pride and your support for Trump with this exclusive equality tee."

Well, when he wasn't detaining migrants in over 200 concentration camps at the U.S.-Mexico border (where 24 people have died in ICE custody due to the inhumane conditions), maybe Trump fingerpainted this shitty logo himself and he's really proud of it.

In closing, don't be fooled by fake allies, always take a shot when it's endorsed by Jonathan Van Ness, and don't let Joe Biden buy you one. Happy Pride.

TV

Top 10 Best Celebrity Podcasts

From Oprah's Masterclass, to Gwyneth Paltrow's goop podcast, to RuPaul and Michelle Visage's What's The Tee.

BRYAN BEDDER/STRINGER FOR ENTERTAINMENT/GETTY IMAGES.

Here are ten of the best celebrity podcasts to make your morning commute a little less insufferable.

1. Unqualified hosted by Anna Faris

Anna Faris offers hilarious cultural commentary, interesting interviews with other stars, and advice for listeners who phone in with questions about relationships and life's other greatest struggles.

2. Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

If you've always wanted more Jonathan Van Ness in your life, then Getting Curious is the answer to your prayers. The Queer Eye star known for his infectious personality, unparalleled grooming skills, and ability to make anyone see the best in themselves, hosts a weekly exploration alongside guests who take a deep dive into all of the things that tickle JVN's fancy.

3. Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend

The comedy legend, known for his time spent behind the late night desk, hosts a weekly podcast where his unbridled sense of humor is let loose without the constraints of network television.

4. RuPaul: What's The Tee? W/ Michelle Visage

The legendary RuPaul and his BFF/icon Michelle Visage host a comedy podcast together, where they discuss a wide range of topics surrounding pop culture, gossip, advice, and behind-the-scenes drag race tea, all with their signature snark. Typically they have a celebrity on to join in on their hilarious convos.

5. The goop Podcast hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow and Elise Loehnen

Fast Company With Gwyneth Paltrow And Goop At FC/LA: A Meeting Of The Most Creative Minds

It was only a matter of time before actress/entrepreneur/wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow pivoted her passion project/company/lifestyle blog, goop, into a podcast. The goop Podcast features Paltrow and goop's Chief Content Officer, Elise Loehnen, chatting with "leading thinkers, culture changers, and industry disruptors" about new and old ways of thinking. Their inaugural episode featured Oprah.

6. Oprah's Master Class: The Podcast

The prolific Oprah never seems to run out of light to share with the world. Her podcast offers even more life lessons and conversations with actors, musicians, public figures, and athletes.

7. Call Chelsea Peretti

Comedy vet Chelsea Peretti shares her hilarious insights as she takes calls and interacts with listeners in her weekly themed episodes.

8. Snoop Dogg's GGN Podcast

This 4/20-friendly pod is essentially a kickback in your friend's basement, except you're listening through headphones. It's perfect for anyone looking for easy-going, entertaining insights from the music legend and pop culture icon Snoop Dogg.

9. Armchair Expert Hosted by Dax Shepherd

You may know Dax Shepherd from his roles in mid-aughts comedies, or his marriage to Kristen Bell. But what you might know is that the Parenthood star is a decade sober, has a degree in anthropology, and four years of improv training under his belt. Dax Shepherd offers his eclectic background as a spring-board for interacting with people and exploring the messiness of the human condition on his podcast.

10. WTF with Marc Maron

This list wouldn't be complete without Marc Maron's decade-old podcast and radio show, one of the most widely known and established podcasts in the game.