Q-Force review: Netflix’s gay spy series turns queer culture into a weak meme

When the initial teaser for Netflix’s queer animated spy comedy Q-Force hit YouTube, the outrage was immediate and overwhelming. One commentator called the trailer “a 55 second insult. It’s easy to see why: the damn thing starts with a character yelling “Hey, young man!” and ends with another saying: “You can’t please gays. They can smell it. “In the middle, viewers are assaulted with the rank slogan” Direct target. Gay heroes. ” Meanwhile, Sean Hayes’ main spy character and his team walk into a room, macho-style. Then he realizes that he is empty and vents his frustration at “wasting masculinity for nothing,” as if this is something that drains a gay man’s energy.

In an era of divisive outrage, this teaser somehow became the great EQ, with another YouTube commenter marveling, “Wow Netflix did it. They managed to unite homosexuals and homophobes ”. Perhaps it is an extreme summary, but it is also understandable. Somehow I find it difficult to see this latest camp in a cartoon featuring a man who says, “He made my little anus boop. “But I also don’t necessarily see a queer majority, myself included, mounting a defense for this show, whose teaser feels like a rotten olive branch from That Guy Who Called Me F * ggot in high school.

In truth, the show itself is nothing to get too excited about. It is true that it is a premise of a joke. (“What if the spies were gay ???”) It is also true that the characters are little more than walking stereotypes. It is true that the character referred to as “young man” is simply called Twink, and that everyone calls Sean Hayes’ character Agent Mary. There are predictable references to Liza Minnelli, Ariana Grande, and lesbian characters “merging their bank accounts” after their first date. But at the end of the day Q-Force it’s little more than harmless mediocrity, the latest in queer culture’s growing trend of Marvelification.

Four characters from Netflix's animated spy series Q-Force - two women in stern suits, a shirtless man and a nearly naked man with a shirt tied to cover his crotch - pose in supergroup mode.

Image: Netflix

It’s been going on for a while, but just like the 1990s bat Man movies and some other X Men or Spiderman The entry finally gave way to Marvel’s total dominance of the movie scene, queer is becoming more and more common. And just as Marvel has honed the superhero story into a predictable formula, it shows how Q-Force they are turning the hallmark of queer culture into a series of nice public memes. Of course, I can’t begin to speak for every LGBTQIA + individual, but for me, this has been its own kind of struggle. While queer acceptance is certainly the goal we’ve all been striving for, seeing a media market that wanted nothing to do with us 15 years ago suddenly started throwing queer stereotypes onto the screen in hopes that appeal to both straight and gay audiences. It can feel a bit like a cultural whiplash.

There was predictable outrage over Q-Force, a show that pleases gays, insisting, “You can’t please gays.” But the stresses of a culture that is not used to being pleased to be suddenly pleased is exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve had to pick up the leftovers from the pop culture table for so long, and we’ve been aware that the media kept our presence away all the time, so it’s no wonder that literally may smell when pimping starts.

This is why there is always a certain sense of disgust during Pride Month, when companies temporarily remove their marketing. Or why is there outrage every time Disney announces that its latest film will feature the studio’s “first openly gay character”. It’s progress, but it also sucks. Also, I don’t need Josh Gad to tell me that LeFou is gay; After having performed him twice in community theater, I can assure you, his main motivation was to be thirsty for Gaston.

We are still getting the messages for the notepad, it’s just now, the messages for the notepad are being published. In that context, it may seem difficult to be angry at something like Q-Force, which is mainly done by queer people, and they don’t really have a bad bone in their body. But I’m fucking tired of qualifying queer content by saying “You have your heart in the right place.” It’s the same head-patting shit I felt in high school when the straight quarterback called me “buddy,” a stimulus that also feels not only backwards, but also limiting.

Sure, it’s nice to see that the pressure is a bit off queer media, so you can have an unbalanced ratio of mediocre to good content, just like normal stuff. But that doesn’t mean I should like it either. In other words, call me gay Martin Scorsese, rejecting Q-Force like cinema.

Mary, the lead agent of Q-Force, flees a fire with a large naked man dangling from her shoulders.

Image: Netflix

Last weekend, I went to Portland, Oregon, where I witnessed one of the most striking drag performances I have ever had the privilege of seeing. It belonged to Darcelle XV, the oldest drag queen in the world certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Sitting in the front row between my partner and my partner’s sister’s girlfriend, I was three feet away from this ninety-something queen. Wrapped in a gold gown, her tall blonde wig frayed and unkempt, she took the stage with the help of a rhinestone-studded walker, taking center stage to sing, among all things, “Send in the Clowns.”

Suddenly, the tone of the room changed. The audience had been screaming and clapping for a varied succession of high-energy lip sync queens, but here in front of us now was a remarkably sparse, naked, and vulnerable performance. Some turned to their table mates, chatting for the duration. My partner’s sister sang, not in a mocking way, but in a “Oh wow, I haven’t heard this song in a while.” But I couldn’t focus on anything other than Darcelle, who was standing there performing with remarkably bold sincerity and a sense of history that I couldn’t shake, even as she approached a young audience of the millennial generation, half of which I had checked as soon as it started.

“Send in the Clowns” is, of course, a song about regret, about wasting a moment and choosing to cut through the sadness with a bitter sense of humor. It’s great in the musical Some night music, and Barbra Streisand does it wonderfully. But somehow, it never meant more to me than when it was played by this gay man who hadn’t come out of the closet until age 37, who had been through more than I could imagine, now staring into a room full of young, openly people. gay spending the night in the city.

His performance was sad, but also triumphant. Silly for the hiker and teary eye makeup, but also a painfully candid portrait of exactly the kind of energetic defiance that paved the way to where we are today. When I thanked him after the performance, he asked how long my partner and I had been together.

“Two years and some changes,” I said.

“Oh,” he said. “I was with my partner for 50 years.” And he left.

I’ve since learned that Darcelle’s partner, Roxy Neuhardt, died in 2017, just two years after gay marriage was legalized in the United States, and long before Q-Force it was even a thought on the minds of Sean Hayes and Michael Schur. The concept of paying homage to those who came before gets a lot of attention in the gay community, but for some reason this performance and this exchange really struck me as to how indebted we are to the Darcelles, to the Marsha P. Johnsons, and how important it is to maintain a bold, unique and challenging identity, even as queer becomes more common and that challenge seems less and less necessary.

I feel lucky to live in a time when RuPaul’s Drag Race feels as essential to the dominant culture as american idol did in the early 2000s. Where Queer eye is welcomed with open arms, and Billy Porter wins an Emmy for his role in Pose. Where a show like The other two can strike the perfect comic balance of savagery and humanity about the gay experience. I also know that we owe it to our ancestors and queer mothers to demand more than mediocrity in our content.

For now, Netflix’s unsatisfying cartoon about the first queer spy agency just isn’t enough. We have reached the mainstream; Darcelle wouldn’t want us to settle for leftovers.

The first season of Q-Force it now airs on Netflix.


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