Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Throw your hands in the air - and flip 'em off like you just don't care.

I've been hemming and hawing for a while over what I could possibly add to the brilliant blogging...um...bloggerpeople that populate the Fatosphere. And then, it struck me that there are two things I know extremely well: pop culture and being fat. If I spent as much time concentrating on college studies as I do on various pop culture items, I mighta even graduated.

One might think that it would be a challenge to combine pop culture chat with fat talkin', but when one is presented a delightful moment such as this fine, fine video taken over Super Bowl weekend at a Wyclef Jean concert where he makes it clear that no woman over 200 pounds should come up on stage to dance lest they "break the stage", it's quite clear just how easy it is to combine pop culture chat with fat talkin'. Mo over at Big Fat Deal covers it quite well (and kudos to her for braving the comments section at TMZ, because Lord knows I can only take so much).

When I saw that video, I immediately put myself in the shoes of every woman that clambered up on that stage only to slink off when Wyclef made his declaration. It's pretty much any music fan's dream to be able to share a stage with a band or an artist they love. Back when I was a fat teen, I wanted nothing more than to be a backup singer for Duran Duran. When I saw the Smashing Pumpkins in 1996, Billy invited people from the crowd to come up and dance onstage during "1979" with only one admonition: "Don't touch us, and don't touch our shit". I was too far back on the main floor to boogie on up and shake my moneymaker (though "1979" isn't exactly a moneymaker-shaking kind of song), but had I been close enough, you bet your ass I would have smoked on up there quick as a wink. Even at a "mature" 36, the thought of hiking myself up onstage to be anywhere NEAR Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails...why, it gives me a bit of a case of the vapors, frankly. I want, like any fan of any musician or actor or whatever, to believe that our favorite people, people that we've all spent serious bank on, aren't fucking assholes.

In a world where regular people can be such awful, vicious jerkoffs, our nerdy celebrity fantasies can sometimes be the only respite we have from the shitbags of the world. Why, my beloved (insert name of celebrity here) would never tell me my thighs are the size of Madagascar and that I didn't deserve respect. If (insert name of celebrity here) were to meet me, why, he would be dazzled by my wit and charm and certainly he wouldn't mutter anything about what a disgusting load I was. But then something like Wyclef's heartwarming declaration takes place and you've got people in the crowd CHEERING...hell, one can't help but want to crawl into a pit and just disappear.

And what makes it worse is when someone you wouldn't expect to be a fat-hating asshole goes on a roll. Case in point, Alton Brown of the Food Network. He was answering questions here and when he was asked what he was passionate about, he responded:

"I’m passionate about this country getting off its fat butt and getting into shape. I see a lot of very heavy people at my demos and book signings and I don’t like that. They come up and they’re so nice and they say 'gosh we love food and love your show' and I want to say 'I think you might lay off both and go for a walk'. I’ve never actually said this because it would be mean but it really worries me."

At the time, I wrote on my Livejournal, "Good news, Alton--you can be sure my fat ass will never be anywhere near any of your demos, book signings, or your TV show. Just LOOK at that. He describes the people as being "so nice" and yet, that being "nice" doesn't matter because oh my stars and garters, they're fat. I guess I'm supposed to be grateful that Alton's only thinking of my "health" when he proclaims himself "worried", but I'd be more grateful if Alton would educate himself on the kind of statistical psychotic horseshit (oop, there we go again with my inability to say anything but "psychotic horseshit!" over and over again) and sloppy reporting that accompanies each and every "THE COUNTRY IS BEING OVERWHELMED BY OBEEEESITY" story that hits the airwaves, newspapers, and internet. I'd be more grateful if he'd come out against companies that profit off engendering people's self-loathing. Instead of sitting up nights, alternating being "worried" with coming up with lame-ass ways to present his lame-ass show, I'd be more grateful if he simply thought about how lovely it is that he has a job and makes a really nice buck doing something he enjoys. Such a shame that some of that money is tainted--TAINTED, I SAY--by fat hands.

And I love how he's never said "AUGH! AWAY, FATTY!" because he doesn't want to be "mean", but it's cool to type...it...on...the...Internet? But it's NOT mean because he "worries", kids. He just wants the best for you. He's not being a hickory-smoked asshole, no no. He WORRIES. So the best way to encourage people to eat healthy is to let everyone know that he doesn't like the fat fans that compliment him...?"

Had I actually been an Alton Brown fan and not where I'm at in my own personal self-acceptance, I would have army-crawled into the nearest liquor cabinet and not emerged for days. He's a genial enough fellow on his show, I suppose (though his kind of science-nerd geniality grates on me personally), and certainly wouldn't give one any clue that when he meets fat fans, first thing that seems to strike him isn't "oh, isn't it nice people appreciate my work" but "ugh...more fat people". I would wager that if someone asked him directly about it, he'd stammer and yammer and try to cloak his assholatry in patented Concern Troll language, but ultimately, unless proven differently to me, he's yet another person in the world that thinks the world would be better off if the fatties would just do everyone a favor and stay indoors so we don't offend the masses with our mass. After all, we can buy Alton's merch off the internet, which would then be delivered straight to our door, and we'd never have to sully his view or anyone else's with our chub.

And if we had any sense of decorum, we certainly wouldn't think we were good enough or pretty enough to hop onstage with Wyclef Jean. How dare we foul his sightline with our fat? My head keeps putting me at that show, standing in that crowd. Would I have tried to get up onstage before he issued his edict? Or would I have been paralyzed by fear that I'd get on up and immediately be greeted by waves of shit being blown at me by the crowd? And I'm someone who spent years doing theater and has rarely shied away from being the center of attention, for Christ's sake. How fucked is it that I'd second-guess something as fucking silly as DANCING TO MUSIC because I've been trained to second-guess it? And that my initial instinct would tell me to steel myself because I expect people to be douches? And that there'd be part of me that would tell me I deserved it because I'd been stupid enough to think I might be up to Wyclef's fan standards?

I guess it's just hard for me to puzzle out where the disconnect comes, where someone believes he or she is completely justified in making others feel shitty for no other reason than the others in question are fat. They might hide their shitty-making in "concerns for your health" or might be so bold as to simply hate out loud. Taking pleasure in making other people feel bad isn't the sport of kings. And having money, status, and a microphone doesn't give you a free pass.


jeni said...

I remember when Alton Brown said that! And that was pretty much the end of my getting all swoony over him.

If he's on, and I have nothing better to do, I'll watch him, but I no longer go all fangirl squee for him.

Fatophobes don't deserve that from me.

(The science nerd thing is what gets me all hot over him, or used to - I blame my mad crush on Bill Nye, The Science Guy in college.)

Jennifer said...

Does Alton Brown think that his fans are all thin, tall ladies?

Man, he's such a fucking douche.

As cliche as it sounds (and you've heard me say it before), if you are a good person, it really doesn't matter what the fuck you look like.

If you are a thin asshole, you'll be a fat asshole. If you are a fat fucknugget, you WILL be a thin fucknugget.

Anonymous said...

Like THAT ass is one to talk. Look at the grease-pits he was glorifying on Feasting on Asphalt. HIS waistline didn't exactly benefit from his eating that crap, coupled with putting around on his motorcycle. Maybe he should have BIKED his way across the USA...

He doesn't know a damn thing about science anyway. He's a southern baptist for crying out loud. As Steven Colbert would say, "get off the fence and pick a side. We're at war here!!"

Christy in Seattle said...

Brilliant post!