Caught the second run of the Sox episode of Queer Eye tonight. I sort of had perhaps unrealistic expectations that it would be a good episode, but from an entertainment perspective, it was not. First, they filmed during spring training, and as you might expect, central Florida doesn’t exactly offer the usual cultural & commercial facilities of Manhattan. So they were a bit constrained with what they could do. Second, while makeover shows tend to be thin excuses for product placement, this episode really felt like an hour long commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts, BJ’s, and more. Last, they tried to do too many of them at once, and so there wasn’t a whole lot of personality to the whole thing. So, it wasn’t great TV. Still, I think it’s a good episode as a social milestone. I have this perhaps unfounded faith that the whole Queer Eye thing, despite how problemmatic it can be, is a positive cultural force. Sure the whole enterprise is a bit cheesy and trades in stereotypes and sentimentality and promotions for Crest White Strips. But I’m a pragmatist and I believe in baby steps.
For example. We went to the Angels/Sox game on Sunday with Nora. Three of the Queer Eye guys threw out the first pitch, and Jai sang the national anthem. Of course, I don’t like his breathy, Broadway style of singing, but when have anthems ever been sung for their artistic merit? I was a bit moved at the thought that even ten years ago, an openly gay guy singing in a major league sporting event would have been pretty much out of the question. Good for the Sox management for doing it on a Sunday day game. And good for Larry Lucchino for not buckling to those boobs on WEEI.
In a slightly related note, since there is a huge lacuna in my baseball interest, stretching from about 1986 (when the only thing going for the Pirates was the pre-steroids Barry Bonds) through 2002 (when I went to Fenway for the first time), I missed the fact that in 1997, MLB retired Jackie Robinson’s number for every major league team. Terri pointed this out to me at the park on Sunday, hence the 42 in blue rather than red. Part of me thinks it’s a terrific gesture, and another part of me thinks it just calls more attention to how long and how bitterly baseball held out against integration. Baby steps I guess. Maybe we still need the gesture now. But I still have to hope that someday people will wonder what the big deal was.