Yesterday while browsing over the news of the day this popped up. Now my first reaction was “Gee, that doesn’t feel right” which is odd as I would usually just see things like this and almost immediately turn away to find something more interesting, dismissing it as a mere fill in piece of rubbish non-news. However, this grabbed me and even though I didn’t immediately click through the pics to see who were our ‘Favourite Fatties’ I did go back to it.
I’m still trying to process my feelings on this as on the one hand I don’t want to live in a politically correct world where we are not allowed to mention the obvious or even have a little joke about it – I’m blonde (ish) and don’t really find blonde jokes offensive, am white and don’t mind the jokes about the fact that white guys (allegedly) can’t dance, am of English descent and don’t mind jokes about whinging, not bathing, bad teeth, sport etc plus the ‘the rabbits/ foxes/ cows are ALL YOUR FAULT’ jibes either and I’m also a chemist and really don’t mind if people think I’m a weird, bomb-making nerdy weirdo weird thing. It’s all par for the course.
But this piece of pseudonews made me think.
I think it is the way that the words are used first in the title and then in the descriptions of the characters real or otherwise.
Reading the title ‘TV’s Favourite Fatties’ made me wonder about the person writing the article. I wondered if the conversation in his/her head went something like this:
“Deadline is approaching. Gotta write something quick. Everyone is on diets in Jan so it must be something diet related without being about a diet…… No. Not funny enough – everyone hates diets. What about we look at TV’s funny fat people then, it’s close enough and may get some laughs. YEH that would be good because fat people ARE funny!
And once the pictures were gathered they might have sat back and said:
“Aaah good work me. I usually hate looking at fat people but this lot are funny. It’s going to be a winner”.
I don’t know if that really happened but everything about the piece put the emphasis on FAT rather than the person and I think that’s what got me. It turned the ‘person’ (well, the people that were real anyway) into objects, fat objects. And then it wanted us to laugh at them. Cruel.
Personally I don’t think that ‘fat’ is funny just like I don’t find blonde, race, age, ability or profession funny by themselves. What I do find funny is respectful observations of humanity’s quirkiness when the person is put first and their ‘condition’ second. Comedy like that takes emotional intelligence, fantastic skills in observation, communication and timing and most importantly empathy and understanding of the whole person.
So, what do you think?