House Hunters: A Window on a Derelict Culture

Like many people, I’ve been watching House Hunters and its cousin House Hunters International on HGTV with considerable interest, though perhaps not for the usual reasons. I understand the charm the program has for its viewers: the pleasure of visiting houses and their locales, the ideas one may get for redecorating one’s own dwelling, the information about places one may wish to visit or move to, the guessing game regarding which of the inevitable three houses the purchasers will settle for, or simply abundant material for one’s fantasy life.

But I do wonder how many viewers realize that the whole business is largely a scripted hallucination which may even be hazardous to one’s future decisions if taken seriously. And as we will see in the ensuing, it partakes as well of a progressivist rage for leftist queer and gender politics.

To begin with, House Hunters et al. paint a scrubbed and prettified picture of the subject. I recall several episodes dealing with the lovely Greek island of Paros, featuring gorgeous, well-appointed villas replete with lavish amenities including ample showers and impressive fireplaces. I lived in Greece for several years and know the island well -- well enough to know that, like most Aegean islands, it suffers from critical water shortages and an equally critical lack of firewood owing to centuries of forest denudation. Showers will be few and winters will be rheumatoid. And unwary buyers will be sucking lemons.

This is only one instance of the HGTV lie. Cabo San Lucas is another popular HGTV fable, focusing on gleaming condominiums and stunning views. The hagglers, cheats, swarms of importunate vendors, heavy traffic, sewage treatment problems and evidence of extortionate prices are left on the cutting-room floor. Caveat emptor.

Moreover, dialogue and character must rank the program at the lowest end of the entertainment industry scale. The dialogue is cloyingly banal with its ceaseless empty chatter, and the prospective buyers/renovators are generally among the most vapid and unattractive cast of characters one could ever hope to avoid.

These are people whose major interest in life seems to consist of countertops, backsplashes and double vanities; whose speech garbles with wow, awesome, omigod, beachy feel, open concept, price point, lots of natural light, I love it, I’m not a big fan of, we like to entertain, it’s a little tight, I like to grill, and so on, a shrunken lexicon tirelessly repeated.

Participants are obviously coached to behave like puppets, but one wonders what self-respecting person would agree to so demeaning a charade. And practically every one of these people apparently possesses a degree of personal taste one would associate with a connoisseur of the fine arts. Couples are expert in architectural distinctions, whether Ranch, Craftsman, Colonial, Cape Cod, Cottage, Farmhouse, Contemporary, Georgian, Art Deco or what have you. This, too, is part of the HGTV lie.

HGTV may once have appealed to family viewing but that is rapidly changing. The participants remain no less fatuous and predictable but now they are gradually becoming same-sex couples as the producers try to “get with” the progressivist trends of the day. These couples are no more intellectually interesting than their normative predecessors and, indeed, are often given to a frisson of theatrical posturing, which seems to go with the territory.

But HGTV has clearly decided to break even newer ground, featuring its first throuple searching for a home in Colorado Springs. The word “throuple” is hammered in to practically every conversational passage as the woke threesome prances around considering furniture and appliances.

photo via Twitter

There arises the significant issue of a triple vanity, a triple bed or a three car garage. We are treated to a joking reference to a three-way fireplace, accompanied by scads of phony laughter.

The nuclear couple have two children who will, apparently, happily adapt to the current orthodoxy of deviance. One shudders to think what lies in store for them. Ben Shapiro has made the argument regarding the welfare of the children, which here amounts to the sacrifice of the innocents or, in his words, “No one gives a crap about the kids.” I see all kinds of trouble -- or is it throuble -- ahead and would not be surprised if the two women -- the wife is bisexual -- hive off into a relationship of their own while the beta husband is left footing the alimony bill. O brave new world that has such people in it, to quote Shakespeare’s ingenuous Miranda.

Of course, HGTV has plenty of company, as we would expect. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson may be a squeeze. Batwoman is a lesbian. The film Spider-Man: Far From Home includes an openly transgender actor and a new film will reportedly show Spidey with a boyfriend. According to actor Haaz Sleiman, the new Marvel movie The Eternals will highlight “a beautiful, very moving kiss” between two men. All the diversity and inclusion one could wish for!

Our social world is obviously becoming increasingly grody with same-sex, transgender, polyamorous and sologamous infatuations -- sologamy, or self-marriage, is now an “item.”  The normalization of polyamory, as Princeton University legal scholar Robert P. George remarks, is less a “slippery slope” than the “unfolding of the logic of social liberalism.”

As of February 2015, HGTV reached 96,620,000 American households, near the top of the cable food chain, not counting its foreign broadcast range. The number has surely grown. And this is why I watch HGTV, when I can stomach it. It provides a bay window on the culture as it seeks to normalize what is abnormal and destructive to the traditional way of life, loosening the glueterium that keeps a culture whole and intact. In its own way, HGTV is a kind of fake news, what James Bridle in New Dark Age calls the “democritisation of propaganda…an amplifier of the division that already exists in society.”

The triviality and disingenuousness which are its stock-in-trade are bad enough as a sign of cultural decay, but do not necessarily portend social collapse. It is, rather, the incursion into the bizarro realm of contra naturam, of all that is freakish and grotesque in the surrealistic world we are preparing for our children, that is plainly visible in what was once a silly but family-oriented production. The corrosive logic of “social liberalism,” that is, of postmodern relativism and gender anarchy, is on full display, forcing viewers into a new frontier of social engineering and presenting a family tragedy-in-the-making as a piece of benign frivolity and revisionary adventure. Indeed, we are witnessing a form of what poststructuralist French theorist Michael Foucault called biopolitics, explained in his collected lectures The Birth of Biopolitics as “a new body, a multiple body, a body with so many heads that…cannot necessarily be counted.”

Will the home survive the moral wreckage of the time? Will the average viewer eventually twig to what is going on? After all, a majority seem fine with the prefab drivel that engulfs them, so perhaps the response to the radical upheaval on offer will be one of assent, however grudging.

 

David Solway’s latest book is Notes from a Derelict Culture, Black House Publishing, 2019, London. A CD of his original songs, Partial to Cain, appeared in 2019.

 

Like many people, I’ve been watching House Hunters and its cousin House Hunters International on HGTV with considerable interest, though perhaps not for the usual reasons. I understand the charm the program has for its viewers: the pleasure of visiting houses and their locales, the ideas one may get for redecorating one’s own dwelling, the information about places one may wish to visit or move to, the guessing game regarding which of the inevitable three houses the purchasers will settle for, or simply abundant material for one’s fantasy life.

But I do wonder how many viewers realize that the whole business is largely a scripted hallucination which may even be hazardous to one’s future decisions if taken seriously. And as we will see in the ensuing, it partakes as well of a progressivist rage for leftist queer and gender politics.

To begin with, House Hunters et al. paint a scrubbed and prettified picture of the subject. I recall several episodes dealing with the lovely Greek island of Paros, featuring gorgeous, well-appointed villas replete with lavish amenities including ample showers and impressive fireplaces. I lived in Greece for several years and know the island well -- well enough to know that, like most Aegean islands, it suffers from critical water shortages and an equally critical lack of firewood owing to centuries of forest denudation. Showers will be few and winters will be rheumatoid. And unwary buyers will be sucking lemons.

This is only one instance of the HGTV lie. Cabo San Lucas is another popular HGTV fable, focusing on gleaming condominiums and stunning views. The hagglers, cheats, swarms of importunate vendors, heavy traffic, sewage treatment problems and evidence of extortionate prices are left on the cutting-room floor. Caveat emptor.

Moreover, dialogue and character must rank the program at the lowest end of the entertainment industry scale. The dialogue is cloyingly banal with its ceaseless empty chatter, and the prospective buyers/renovators are generally among the most vapid and unattractive cast of characters one could ever hope to avoid.

These are people whose major interest in life seems to consist of countertops, backsplashes and double vanities; whose speech garbles with wow, awesome, omigod, beachy feel, open concept, price point, lots of natural light, I love it, I’m not a big fan of, we like to entertain, it’s a little tight, I like to grill, and so on, a shrunken lexicon tirelessly repeated.

Participants are obviously coached to behave like puppets, but one wonders what self-respecting person would agree to so demeaning a charade. And practically every one of these people apparently possesses a degree of personal taste one would associate with a connoisseur of the fine arts. Couples are expert in architectural distinctions, whether Ranch, Craftsman, Colonial, Cape Cod, Cottage, Farmhouse, Contemporary, Georgian, Art Deco or what have you. This, too, is part of the HGTV lie.

HGTV may once have appealed to family viewing but that is rapidly changing. The participants remain no less fatuous and predictable but now they are gradually becoming same-sex couples as the producers try to “get with” the progressivist trends of the day. These couples are no more intellectually interesting than their normative predecessors and, indeed, are often given to a frisson of theatrical posturing, which seems to go with the territory.

But HGTV has clearly decided to break even newer ground, featuring its first throuple searching for a home in Colorado Springs. The word “throuple” is hammered in to practically every conversational passage as the woke threesome prances around considering furniture and appliances.

photo via Twitter

There arises the significant issue of a triple vanity, a triple bed or a three car garage. We are treated to a joking reference to a three-way fireplace, accompanied by scads of phony laughter.

The nuclear couple have two children who will, apparently, happily adapt to the current orthodoxy of deviance. One shudders to think what lies in store for them. Ben Shapiro has made the argument regarding the welfare of the children, which here amounts to the sacrifice of the innocents or, in his words, “No one gives a crap about the kids.” I see all kinds of trouble -- or is it throuble -- ahead and would not be surprised if the two women -- the wife is bisexual -- hive off into a relationship of their own while the beta husband is left footing the alimony bill. O brave new world that has such people in it, to quote Shakespeare’s ingenuous Miranda.

Of course, HGTV has plenty of company, as we would expect. Sherlock Holmes and John Watson may be a squeeze. Batwoman is a lesbian. The film Spider-Man: Far From Home includes an openly transgender actor and a new film will reportedly show Spidey with a boyfriend. According to actor Haaz Sleiman, the new Marvel movie The Eternals will highlight “a beautiful, very moving kiss” between two men. All the diversity and inclusion one could wish for!

Our social world is obviously becoming increasingly grody with same-sex, transgender, polyamorous and sologamous infatuations -- sologamy, or self-marriage, is now an “item.”  The normalization of polyamory, as Princeton University legal scholar Robert P. George remarks, is less a “slippery slope” than the “unfolding of the logic of social liberalism.”

As of February 2015, HGTV reached 96,620,000 American households, near the top of the cable food chain, not counting its foreign broadcast range. The number has surely grown. And this is why I watch HGTV, when I can stomach it. It provides a bay window on the culture as it seeks to normalize what is abnormal and destructive to the traditional way of life, loosening the glueterium that keeps a culture whole and intact. In its own way, HGTV is a kind of fake news, what James Bridle in New Dark Age calls the “democritisation of propaganda…an amplifier of the division that already exists in society.”

The triviality and disingenuousness which are its stock-in-trade are bad enough as a sign of cultural decay, but do not necessarily portend social collapse. It is, rather, the incursion into the bizarro realm of contra naturam, of all that is freakish and grotesque in the surrealistic world we are preparing for our children, that is plainly visible in what was once a silly but family-oriented production. The corrosive logic of “social liberalism,” that is, of postmodern relativism and gender anarchy, is on full display, forcing viewers into a new frontier of social engineering and presenting a family tragedy-in-the-making as a piece of benign frivolity and revisionary adventure. Indeed, we are witnessing a form of what poststructuralist French theorist Michael Foucault called biopolitics, explained in his collected lectures The Birth of Biopolitics as “a new body, a multiple body, a body with so many heads that…cannot necessarily be counted.”

Will the home survive the moral wreckage of the time? Will the average viewer eventually twig to what is going on? After all, a majority seem fine with the prefab drivel that engulfs them, so perhaps the response to the radical upheaval on offer will be one of assent, however grudging.

 

David Solway’s latest book is Notes from a Derelict Culture, Black House Publishing, 2019, London. A CD of his original songs, Partial to Cain, appeared in 2019.