Archive by Author

The Grey is amazing, just go see it…now

2 Mar

Summary: I went with my girlfriend and parents to see Liam Neeson in The Grey about a week ago, and I must say that it was a pretty amazing film in terms of acting and storyline. Neeson plays Ottway, a man of haunted dreams and a contract sniper who protects oil workers in Alaska from infrequent wolf attacks. On a routine trip back to civilization, their plane violently crashes literally into the middle of nowhere. Ottway survives with a small group of men, who are now being hunted by a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.

Analysis/Application: The Grey isn’t exactly a film that tackles many of the issues dedicated to our blogs, especially size identity. After the plane crashes, only eight or nine men survive. They are a diverse group in terms of ethnicity but very similar in size, the only exception being Burke (Nonso Anozie), the films lone black character and also its largest in body size. He isn’t necessarily fat, per se, but he is clearly the least mobile and out of shape member of the group. Burke makes it about halfway through the film until the group stops to build a fire and rest. A devastating snow storm soon follows, and he dies as Ottway tries his best to brave the elements while unsuccessfully reviving him. A viewer could look at his death with the dominant ideology that “only the strong survive,” but I don’t think this was really the case. The film only focuses on his weight shortly before his death, as Burke begins to start coughing badly and moving much slower than before. His death was one of the more emotional and jarring ones, and it stayed with me long after the movie was over. Yet the other men’s conditions rapidly deteriorate at a similar rate, so the viewpoint I took was that they were all screwed, honestly.

Neeson is clearly the star of the film (although it was great seeing Dermot Mulroney, he’s an awesome actor) as well as the alpha male of the group, so it is no surprise that he’s also the largest man amongst his peers. At about 6’4” and at least 220 lbs., Ottway represents a dominant ideology that suggests men should be big and brawny in order to survive (or does he?) in the worst of situations. However, I don’t think this is one of the unspoken intents of the film at all; his size is never really utilized in any way, but rather his intelligence in hunting wolves.

Response: Have you ever watched a movie that was so intense that you’d literally have to remind yourself to breath? It sounds dramatic, but that was this movie. It was one of the most visceral and intense films I have ever seen (the scene where their plane crashes is freakin’ nuts), with amazing performances by all the actors. Liam Neeson has resurrected his career in recent years by overtaking Bruce Willis as the aging badass of action films, displaying a more intricate and intense depiction of an action hero that many are not used to. His size is large but not necessarily intimidating, especially when compared to stars such as Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger, so there isn’t much emphasis in promoting size identity here. His wits and his instincts carry him throughout the film; I couldn’t imagine a better person for the role. He may not be Vin Diesel in terms of size, but at least he can act.

Definitely try to see it in theatres if you can, you will not be disappointed. A good sign of an amazing movie is when, even a week after first watching it, you’re still thinking about it; analyzing the film as a whole and breaking down the meanings of certain themes in your head, all in the attempt of gaining a better understanding.

Skinny bitches and self-loathing

24 Feb

Summary: Back in the year 2005, a group of movie producers actually sat down and “green-lit” a low-budget comedy starring Mo’Nique, called Phat Girlz. Taking place in a world of “skinny bitches,” she plays a morbidly obese woman named Jazmin, who works at a clothing store while dreaming of one day being a fashion designer. Soon the plot (if you can even begin to call it that) gets rolling, as she wins a luxury vacation to a posh resort with her thin cousin Mia and friend Stacy. While vacationing, Jazmin wins the attention of a hunky Nigerian doctor named Tunde, who is all about the thick ladiez. The filmz intentionz (alright, I’ll stop) seem to be in creating a Cinderella-style fairytale romance by showing that anyone can find love, but it fails miserably. Perhaps it would have done better in the hands of a better director or writing crew, but as it stands, it’s just a mean-spirited, terrible movie.

Analysis/Application: I knew this was going to suck right after the scene where Monique’s cousin waves a tasty pastry in her sleeping face to wake her up from a sexual dream (because fat people like to eat crappy food…get it?) This film has a major identity crisis in that Mo’Nique, just by starring in this, has essentially joined the ranks of the very same superficial society that she so obviously dislikes. She is fat, very fat. And the skinny bitches in the film are skinny, way skinny. Yet she wants to be a size 5, and spends a good chunk of the movie bashing others for their features while desperately wishing she had what they had. It is self-loathing in its worst form, and I feel like it sends a confusing message to the viewers. The dominant ideology seems to be one of acceptance…I think. Hell, I don’t really even know, considering the movie seems to switch philosophical courses like a boozed-up train conductor unsure of which track to ride down. Feminine power (girl power!) seems to be a consistent theme for most of the characters, embodied no more than by Mo’Nique herself. In the real world, a man like Tunde would most likely not be interested in the kind of woman she portrays; they say opposites attract, but holy heck is this a stretch. It isn’t so much because of her weight, but more due to the obvious lack of real chemistry and a wide disparity between the two, characteristically speaking. The relationship seems forced and completely unbelievable, yet it strangely feels appropriate given the ridiculous nature of the script.

Response: From beginning to end, there is really nothing positive to say about this film. And no, I didn’t think it was dumb because I’m white and I “don’t get it.” Our backgrounds and social development play more of a part in how we view the world than whether we are light or dark-skinned, although there can certainly be a correlation between the two. For example, I identify more with the coming-of-age film The Wood (Omar Epps and Taye Diggs, about three black males reminiscing of their time spent growing up together in Inglewood, California) than I do Stand By Me (Stephen King film about a group of white teenage boys in the ‘60s who go on a memorable hike to find the dead body of a boy their age). So with that said, my issues with the film lie solely on its inability to figure itself out. Phat Girlz wants to project a message that everyone is beautiful, no matter their size, shape or color. But it betrays its own thoughts by having the protagonist play a bitter, fed-up woman who acts like she’s sexy while bashing her looks and those of others at the same time. I have nothing against Mo’Nique, in fact I enjoy her no-bullshit approach and find her funny at times, but not in this mess. She tried swinging for the fences in creating an ode to fat women everywhere, but probably did more to increase the negative stigma associated with overweight individuals. It really is a shame.

Character Portrayals Show Strengths, Weaknesses in Casting

17 Feb

Summary: I tried to switch things up a bit this week by focusing on shows that either a) feature a mix of thin and overweight individuals without making constant fat jokes (I’m looking directly at you, Mike & Molly), or b) feature predominantly thin characters. For category A I chose Glee, and for category B I chose an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. My girlfriend has made me sit through a couple episodes of Glee, which is surely her way of punishing me for all the Jean-Claude Van Damme and Bruce Willis movies I’ve made her watch. Law & Order has and always will be an amateur, “for dummies” version of HBO’s critically acclaimed The Wire, which I will not even begin discussing due to my rabid obsession with the show… but I digress.

Where were we? Oh yes, the blog. The Glee Valentine’s Day episode celebrated some of the world’s greatest love songs (Sisqo’s “Thong Song” was strangely absent) and included a pretty incredible cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” sung by Mercedes (Amber Riley), a black, overweight character who is regularly featured.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXDc3MHp8co

Jeff Goldblum – he of Jurrasic Park and The Fly fame – makes a special guest appearance as one of Rachel’s dads, bringing a special something to the show by being his typically awesome self. Finally, there is a subplot about a Valentine’s Day party thrown by Sugar Motta, who demands that only couples attend.

The plot of Law & Order involved the murder of a well-known minister’s wife and how the events are connected to blackmail and a mysterious DVD. Also, Detective Robert Goren’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, affecting his policework and personal life. The episode was fairly dry and boring, with unbelievable characters who all seemed to take lessons from the David Caruso School of Overacting.

Analysis/Application: Glee is clearly a program not targeted toward burly, bacon-eating, lumberjacking men such as myself, so to criticize it for its sheer level of fabulousness and saccharine content would be unfair and misguided (to be fair, I do know the show often deals with serious issues). However, credit is due for their inclusion of a wide variety of characters to fill the halls of William McKinley High School. To go through the personalities of its denizens is like scrolling down the checklist of a casting director:

Pretty white people? Check

Asians? Yup.

Disabled guy in wheelchair? Check.

Kids unsure of themselves? Check.

Gays/lesbians? Check.

Girl with Down Syndrome? Roger that.

Overweight black couple? Two birds with one stone. Check and check.

By the way, I think this is a good thing. While I’ve spent plenty of time in Lima, Ohio, and find it to be an extremely “whitebread” neck of the woods, I respect shows whose idea of diversity goes beyond a blonde guy with BROWN eyes. Therefore, the dominant ideology of the show seems to be one of variety and acceptance. Having worked with disabled students throughout high school, as well as having a younger brother with Muscular Dystrophy, I freakin’ love Becky Jackson, an overweight character on Glee who is a cheerleader with Down Syndrome. Her portrayal is extremely sincere and her presence on the show a welcome one; in my last blog, I wrote of wanting something real in television, and to me this is it. It’s difficult to even take an oppositional reading on the program, considering it is so apparent that the show aims to represent such a wide, non-specific demographic. It’s not the Citizen Kane of television, but it deserves credit where credit is due.

Mercedes, the other overweight character, adds to the aforementioned ideology by her uniqueness in regards to clashing with media norms. She is black and overweight, a description which does not fit the tired Hollywood ideal of whiteness with a dash of anorexia, yet she is one of the more endearing and genuine characters on Glee; it probably also helps that she has a beautiful, crazy ridiculous voice. Seriously, somebody get this girl a record deal, stat

Having to watch Law & Order after Glee was akin to embarking on a weeklong, drug-induced joyride with Hunter S. Thompson throughout the New Mexico desert, only to be followed by an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a leaky basement near Hell’s Kitchen, listening to random strangers profess their sins over black coffee and shriveled Newports. In other words, it’s a downer. Or, to put it another, less dramatic way: it’s a completely different show regarding tone and character. Unlike Glee, most of the people on Law & Order were slender and relatively fit, offering a different, less varied dominant ideology comprised of thin characters. The one exception would be Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Detective Goren; he is noticeably overweight, but not to the point where it stands out.

Response: After Glee, I suddenly felt the urge to watch Rambo while downing shots of cobra blood in a seedy Thai bar, so as to retain some semblance of my manliness. Not really, but in all seriousness, I found the show’s portrayal of various shapes, faces, and sizes as a proverbial middle finger to typical Hollywood casting norms. It also reinforces feminine power roles without blatant, cartoonish sexism, as it contains many strong-willed females.

As I previously mentioned, Law & Order will forever be unfairly compared in my mind to The Wire, a far superior show. Come to think of it, I should have written about it instead. Anyway, it proved to be a much more generic show with a generic dominant ideology which permeates television. However, to compare two completely different shows is like comparing apples to oranges; Glee’s setting allows for much broader brushstrokes encompassing various physical and intellectual identities, while Law & Order has sweet guns. In its defense, I did only watch one episode, but that one hour was more than enough for me.

Mike and Molly is Great…if You Like Fat Jokes

4 Feb

Summary: Airing on Monday nights at 9:30 p.m., CBS’s Mike and Molly is about two overweight people who find love while attending an Overeaters’ Anonymous meeting. Now in its second season, the show initially received much praise for its inclusion of obese main characters, although many people (myself included) believe the show is basically 22 minutes of fat jokes and self-inflicted mockery.

The first episode had an unexpectedly serious plotline involving Mike’s mother and her boyfriend, who mysteriously dies after eating his birthday cake made by Molly. Over a deafening laugh track that virtually begs its viewers to chuckle in unison, Mike and his partner Carl attempt to solve the mystery. In the episode’s last minutes, Mike reveals to Molly that they will move into her mother’s house, followed by ending credits that could not have come any sooner.

Begrudgingly, I viewed the next episode of Mike and Molly, and was relieved to find that the plot focused mainly on Carl, Mike’s black friend and fellow officer, as he tries to give up his habit of fast dating and strip clubs in an attempt to meet a nice girl. I’ll save you the drama – he does.

Analysis/Application: I’ve gotta be honest here when I say that I truly, deeply, from the bottom of my heart want to like Mike and Molly. Really…I do. The concept of a show featuring two obese main characters goes against every casting stereotype that completely dominates both television and film today, and that is something I can get behind. I’m tired of seeing Calvin Klein-esque pretty people with zero talent or acting ability in roles they have absolutely no business being in; while I understand that the media is a form of escapism for many (and that’s not a bad thing), it also contributes to the dominant ideology of what true beauty is: square jaws, thin midsections and nary a blemish on pristine, photoshopped skin. I don’t want that; I want something real. I want pimples, not dimples. I want rolls of back fat bulging out of spaghetti-strap tank tops, and cankles that make it look like their shoes are baking bread. I want British teeth and hairy lips, wrinkled skin and a bad haircut. Give me something REAL.

Mike and Molly was supposed to be all those things and more, yet it fails miserably.  It is completely unrepresentative, and in many cases, degrading to fat people. I know plenty of fat people, from a slightly overweight coworker to an ex-girlfriend who went from being cute to looking like a stunt double for Jabba the Hutt. Sure, they may crack wise about their weight from time to time, but it doesn’t permeate every conversation or every waking thought they have. This is where Mike and Molly disappoints; it’s a show that claims to be about “real” people, yet is flooded with trite, lazy humor centered on the two main characters and their physical attributes. Mike and Molly aren’t really people, but walking, talking, gelatinous volcanoes brimming with molten bullshit one-liners, zingers (mmmm…Zingers), and fatty fatty fat jokes. They are insensitive caricatures that, rather than champion the struggles of obesity, choose to promote the same negative stereotypes and mindsets it claims to address. Although the dominant ideology should be one of acceptance and respect, it sadly is not. I’ve never seen the writers of this show, but I have a sneaking suspicion they don’t shop for plus-sizes.

Response: Mike and Molly resembles self-loathing in its lowest state. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have a problem with the show if it was even remotely funny…but you see, that’s kind of the problem. Again, I came into viewing it with an open mind, and hoping to Hell that the creators wouldn’t fall down that all-too-familiar rabbit hole of stereotypical plot points and lazy writing. My fears were completely justified as I found that Mike and Molly suffered from the exact problems I expected. This show won an Emmy – are you kidding me?

If I had to identify one positive of the show, it would be Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Molly. She’s a pretty and likeable actress, and her role in the show goes along with the feminine power roles we discussed in class. She may not be a superhero, skinny, or well-versed in handling high-powered weapons, but she definitely seems to be the one wearing the pants in the relationship.

Pigeonholed Representations of Body Image

24 Jan

Summary: When choosing which magazines to analyze for this blog, I tried to find three distinct publications that would, as a whole, represent as many cultural demographics as possible. After some careful searching and contemplation, I decided on Time Magazine, Ebony, and People Magazine. Time Magazine is a weekly publication whose focus is primarily that of current events, news, politics, foreign policy, health and science, etc. etc. Ebony is a monthly magazine catering mainly to black culture, and has stories that cover the media, entertainment, art, and music, to name a few. People Magazine, much like Time, doesn’t seem to target any specific race or demographic. It is one of many “celebrity rags” that cover everything in the entertainment spectrum, as well as (every now and then) educational content.

Analysis/Application: After scouring each and every page of all three magazines, the first thing that jumped out at me was the enormous disparity in overall ad space between Time and the other two magazines. I believe this has to do with the difference in content between them; Time’s content is, in my mind, more adult and education oriented, although I found Ebony’s overall quality and range of topics was much more interesting and less gossipy in terms of personal profiles and stories.

Time’s ad content was not only the smallest by a wide margin, but it also featured the least significant variation in terms of what was being “sold.” Every single ad featured men and women, usually in the 30-55 range; all of varying skin colors and all of them fit and trim. Most of the products being offered dealt with banking, the stock market, insurance, and mid-level sedans, and there was nothing that featured cosmetics or any type of food product. Having this in mind, it seems that the dominant culture represented by and large is that of a successful man or woman who is probably thin. Perhaps this has something to do with how we view obese people in our culture; in America, our perceptions of thin people are typically positive, yet the larger a person gets, the less we collectively think of them in terms of their socioeconomic status.

Ebony was an easier magazine to analyze because it gave me more to work with…much, much more. I don’t think I’ve ever glanced through a magazine of this size and seen so many advertisements covering such a wide spectrum. However, the thing that set Ebony apart from the other two was its inclusion of overweight people in their ads. While not a large number, they managed to be the only magazine to at least include ONE larger model, so for that I thank them. In this case, it was four, although three of the representations belonged to Queen Latifah modeling makeup for Covergirl. I’ve always found her to be very pretty, intelligent and down-to-earth, and although she doesn’t have the body of your typical model (and for me, personally, that’s ok. Then again, stick-figure women have never and will never be my thing), I feel like she represents a large percentage of women of all racial backgrounds who are overweight. The other model was Star Jones, promoting the American Heart Association. Once morbidly obese, she is still overweight in terms of the norm we expect in advertisements, but looks terrific and could be viewed as an inspirational woman for those who need to lose weight.

Unfortunately, the guys were not so lucky. Every ad I saw for a variety of products featured predominantly black males, all with athletic bodies and mature, strong faces (Idris Elba promoting Smartwater, something I’m sure Dr. Banjo would appreciate). Surprisingly, there were few food and drink ads, although McDonalds, Starbucks, Coca Cola, and a Nutrisystem Success ad featuring what is left of Janet Jackson were present.

The dominant ideology for this text would most likely be a mix of both large and small people, though from my experiences I have found that there seems to be less of a “fat bias” amongst large black women than with men. The following clip always reminds me of a great friend I had in high school, an obese, intelligent, hilarious, and pretty girl named Dawn.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F43JU0N5DM

Ah, I love Chris Rock. And I couldn’t agree with him more, which is why I believe the ads in Ebony are intended to reach a wider net of body types, and I see no problem with that.

Finally we have People Magazine, which was probably my least favorite to cover. As expected from a celebrity magazine, it was littered predominantly with ads featuring flawless, thin models and celebrities hawking makeup, shampoo, healthy foods and Diet Pepsi. I’m not sure anyone featured had a body fat percentage of more than 10 percent, so the dominant ideology here is one of maintaining a youthful appearance via these amazing products, because who doesn’t want to look like Brad Pitt or Jessica Biel?

Response: There were no big surprises to report here, as I basically found the exact body types I expected from each magazine. Therefore, my readings of these texts are more toward the oppositional side. Leafing through a magazine full of beautiful celebrities can be hard enough on a person’s self-image, so to have advertisements promoting the same kind of beauty is like pouring salt into an open wound. They represent what we want in ourselves and strive for, but they do us no favors by painting a tawdry mosaic of unrealistic expectations in a world that continues to judge more on looks than character.

A Slight Change of Heart

21 Jan

Summary: The Biggest Loser follows a similar path in terms of plot and event types in every episode, and this one was no different. An initial event featuring a Chinese buffet ends with the Black Team victorious, and in charge of choosing matchups for the “face-off challenge.” Following this are the typical training montages and motivational content, as well as the main physical challenge which the Red Team wins. At the final weigh-in, trainer Bob Harper’s Black Team comes out on top, with the Red Team subsequently voting off Lauren, one of the younger contestants and a former star lacrosse player. The commercials featured in between breaks covered a variety of interests, although ones promoting healthy eating and personal appearance were aplenty. 

Analysis/Application: Contestants on The Biggest Loser represent a dominant ideology consisting primarily of white contestants, which could potentially have an effect on viewership and general popularity. People tend to relate to those who resemble themselves, although I don’t see this being an issue with The Biggest Loser; now in its 13th season, it remains one of the most popular reality television shows in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 34 percent of American adults are obese, an astonishing figure that continues to rise unabated in our society (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html). The battle for smaller waistlines and better overall health is an issue that does not recognize race, economic status or other pertinent factors, which I believe explains the popularity of the program, yet makes it difficult to identify a dominant ideology. The show represents an everyday struggle and a national epidemic, so I’d assume that a large portion of the audience are those who identify with the struggles endured by the contestants.  

The biggest issue I had with this episode came when the contestants had to eliminate one of their peers, the aforementioned Lauren. This portion of the program proves to be the most heartfelt and tense, as the losing team for the week must explain their rationale behind who they believe should go home. Although Lauren proved to be a strong-willed and extremely likeable contestant, it was obvious that the very strengths that made her an ideal participant were what caused her elimination. According to teammates, her athletic background, age, and determination were superior to theirs, and she could attain the same goals on her own and without the show’s guidance. This is typical of many reality programs I have seen; more often than not, contestants who are viewed as the biggest threat of winning are usually the ones to go home. In a society that values the ideals and determination of people like Lauren, it was disheartening to see her voted off, for she represented the dominant ideology of a sound contestant. Yet I understood where her peers were coming from; they needed The Biggest Loser more than her, and they were not about to let their opportunity slip away.

As far as commercials, I was surprised to see that they covered a variety of interests outside of weight loss and healthy eating. However, most of them pertained to aspects of improving one’s appearance and proper diet, including ads for Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine, Planet Fitness, L’Oreal and Maybelline cosmetics. Commercial interests and ad placement were not strictly reserved outside of the show; at one point in the episode, trainer Dolvett Quince spends nearly a minute discussing to two contestants the benefits of eating Subway sandwiches.

Dolvett’s impassioned speech over his love of Subway sandwiches was followed by a commercial break dominated by food advertisements, which I related to our class discussion over media and its use of repetition to reinforce knowledge over a particular issue. I didn’t have a problem with this – it’s not like the commercials were promoting crystal meth or tax evasion – but it was an interesting concept to see played out in real life.

Response: My previous critique of The Biggest Loser was a rough one, to say the least. Although I still believe it has the typical pageantry and unrealistic expectations synonymous with reality television, I chose to watch this episode with a more open mind. Prior to enlisting in the U.S. Marines, I weighed 218 pounds and needed to lose 20 before recruit training. It was extremely difficult but I did it, and upon graduation my weight was around 175. I was better able to appreciate the contestant’s struggles and put myself in their shoes, and in doing so was more effective in critiquing the show rather than nitpicking.

After Lauren’s elimination, the show provided an update on her goals and I was happy to see that she had lost more than 50 pounds since leaving. Her story is a positive one and proves that The Biggest Loser can be both entertaining and educational.  

The Biggest Loser: The Biggest Waste of Time

14 Jan

Summary: I decided to watch The Biggest Loser on NBC, which is a terrible, grating show that airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. I had to watch it, so you have to read about it; trust me, you’ve gotten the better end of the deal.

Now in its 13th season, the show pits a group of severely obese contestants against each other in a quest to turn their lives around and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Hosted by Alison Sweeney, a former terrible actress on a crappy soap opera no self-respecting person would ever admit to watching, the episode begins with the contestants engaging in a contest where they must predict how much weight each team plans to lose collectively. Viewers are then treated to what for some is the sole purpose of watching the program: trainers Dolvett Quince and Bob Harper hazing the living Hell out of fat people. Afterwards, the contestants learn healthy cooking tips in the kitchen and are introduced to an attractive nutritional expert, who takes the ragtag bunch on a field trip to the local grocery store. She then schools the giddy participants in common sense, no-duh pearls of nutritional wisdom that every person with a moderate IQ should surmise without any reasonable doubt. Did you know that fried chicken and frozen pizza have a lot of fat and calories in them? Apparently the contestants did not, whose reactions to this startling news were akin to the time you found out Santa Claus was a bullshit lie; color me surprised.

The remainder of the show consisted of a physical challenge involving pushing a giant wheel, collecting puzzle pieces and “sprinting” to a staging area. The Black Team won and a guy named Mike was voted off, but not before plenty of annoying musical cues, pageantry, and other annoying staples that make reality television the veritable turd sandwich it is. This show has the appeal of a school bus fire.

Analysis/Application: I’m not sure if you could tell by the tone and verbiage of my blog, but I don’t exactly like this show. For one, I feel as though it sets incredibly unhealthy and unrealistic expectations regarding proper weight loss and nutrition. According to every nutritional expert or scientist not named Dr. Nick Riveria (obscure?), people on average should only lose up to two pounds per week; anything more carries with it potentially harmful consequences. Yet at the end of every episode, contestants on The Biggest Loser must lose their shirts, parade in front of the camera for my enjoyment, step on a massive scale that should be used for measuring cars, not people, and pray to Richard Simmons that they lost more weight than their Augustus Gloop-ian counterpart. Only on a show like this are people chided for “only” losing six pounds in one week.

People can be stupid…really, really stupid. I once worked with a girl who sent multiple audition tapes to be on a reality show called The Bad Girls Club, which is kind of like Gilligan’s Island if the island were filled with Gonorrhea, whores, reeked of cigarettes, disappointment, and absentee fathers. She was soon fired for skipping out on shifts, and my soul rejoiced. For her, the opportunity of infamy was paramount to retaining any semblance of her character and morality. She was one of those people who took reality television too seriously, and my life is much better without her presence.

My point, and I do have one, is that shows like The Biggest Loser play to the good-natured, underdog, everybody-is-super-and-should-get-a-medal-no-matter-what mentally we all share, that anyone can accomplish anything if they just believe and work hard. In addition, they also beckon those who will do anything to be on television, including the systematic destruction of their overall health. Don’t believe people are that dumb? Reference the aforementioned girl I worked with for extra assurance. Of course, contestants on The Biggest Loser also have access to first-rate healthcare professionals, dieticians, world-class personal trainers, state-of-the- art fitness equipment, and the constant attention of TV cameras which only further motivate them on their journey. As audience members, we identify with their struggles and genuinely root for them, but their success is both unrealistic and unconventional, and that can be dangerous to those people (namely idiots) who expect similar results with a treadmill and a copy of Reader’s Digest to peruse. The message of self-preservation and overcoming odds can be a powerful, albeit misleading one.

Response: My response is similar to the words I used in describing The Biggest Loser; it’s typical reality drivel assigned to assuage our feelings of self-loathing as we watch other overweight/unfulfilled people wreck themselves to win whatever it is they’re looking for. While writing this, I read an article which talked about how watching The Biggest Loser can actually increase anti-fat stances amongst people, and I totally believe it. Here is the article to reference: http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-biggest-loser-fat-bias-20120113,0,6268444.story.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you weren’t upset by any of my analogies or word usage. I’m a writer, I like to write what I think, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. Also, I used to be fat (218, pre-Marine Corps), so that means I can talk about this topic freely, right? Isn’t that how it goes?