“The (not so) queer art of flopping”: makeover shows and the formation of neoliberal subjectivity
This thesis examines the integral part makeover shows play in the formation of neoliberal subjectivity. The hegemonic neoliberal ideology demands citizens to claim responsibility for the social welfare services and offerings that the states cease to provide. The idealized citizenship in this system is a self-enterprising, responsible, and autonomous one who has or strives to have self-esteem in order to become and remain the best version of oneself. The subjectivity neoliberalism (re)constructs and promotes can be seen in cultural products, too. Television, particularly makeover reality television, has an informative part in the formation of this subjectivity. The experts makeover shows employ portray and eventually teach the audience how to conduct themselves without the help -social welfare- the states are supposed to offer. Borrowing Michel Foucault’s conceptualization of “governmentality”, the conduct of conduct for the citizen, this research aims to reveal the neoliberal governmentality displayed in makeover shows through experts’ tutorials of the idealized neoliberal lifestyle and consumership. While doing so, this thesis uses the American makeover reality show, Queer Eye as its context. In addition to drawing from the critical governmentality literature, the thesis uses Halberstam’s low theory in order to provide an alternative understanding of success/failure that is beyond the binary neoliberal definition of these terms, and questions the possibility for a (queer) alternative way of being.