Friday, June 28, 2013

Health Report: Cross-Posted from My Tumblr

I was just reading this other tumblr, and in among the ridiculousness he was spewing about people whose hardships he can’t imagine for one second was this bit about fat people and how fat people are doing it to themselves and making the choice to be fat and he honestly seemed upset and angry that it wasn’t socially acceptable to make fun of those people when that’s what they chose.

It was pretty fucking vile, I thought.

Look, it’s no secret that I’m pretty fucking overweight. If I didn’t know that, there are a long parade of anons ready to remind me. And there’s always, you know, society and the media to remind me that I should be an object of ridicule because of the “choice" I’ve made to be fat.

But here’s the thing.

No one makes the conscious choice to be fat. No one wants to fat. We know it’s unhealthy. We know what it does to our bodies a hell of a lot better than someone who’s never been overweight a day in their lives. We know the pain, we know the risks, we know the health problems we have.

Calling it a choice is ignorant at best.

But a lot of people, myself included, have other problems that compound our weight problems. Some of us have emotional issues or anxiety disorders that make it very, very hard to lose weight.

I’m speaking for myself right now: I have four diagnosed mental disorders. Part of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is having a problem controlling your impulses. Agoraphobia is being afraid to go out into the open world. Part of Panic Disorder is being unable to control the intensity of your fear response, which in turn makes it hard to stop letting your immediate emotional responses irrationally control how you make decisions, Basically, for most of my life I’ve been making decisions out of fear, and it’s gotten so intense I’ve finally had to seek professional help.

Also, because of this I was on a drug for years of my life that were basically lost to a drug-induced numbness that robbed me of my motivation, and in that time period I gained 200 pounds. And I’ve been heavy all of my life. Nevertheless, it took me years to gain this much weight, and as much work as I do now to take it off, it’s probably going to take just as much time (if not more) to take off as it did to put on. That’s just how the human body works.

I’m not saying any of this to abdicate personal responsibility in regards to my weight or my health. But I am illustrating how my weight is not as simple as just choosing to let myself be this way.

It’s the most frustrating thing to know that I can expect when someone disagrees with me or gets mad at something I’ve said online, they’re just going to call me fat as a way to invalidate who I am and what my opinions are. And someone who doesn’t know what that feels like—to be called a fat cunt or a fat piece of shit simply because someone doesn’t like something you said—doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to dismissing fat people as having chosen this problem. Who would choose that?

I’m only speaking to my own experience, which is all I can do. It’s all any of us can really do: speak from our own experience and listen and try to empathize with others. Only the ignorant and deluded claim that their experience is universal and that they know what the cause of everyone’s problem is despite never having had to deal with them.

People are fat for a lot of reasons. Some people internalize ridicule as children and grow up genuinely believing they are worthless and it doesn’t matter what size they are because they believe no one could ever accept them or like them. Some people medicate themselves with food, either because it makes them feel in control or because it makes them feel anything at all. Some people have other health issues that affect their mobility. Some people have genetic disorders or a genetic propensity. And yeah, some people actually have slow metabolisms that play havoc with their diet. Being fat is very often the result of other issues.

But you know what no one has ever done? No one has ever woken up and thought to themselves “I think I’ll just be fat from now on" and let themselves go.

And hey, even if they have, you don’t get to decide for them that they’re worthy of ridicule or unworthy of basic respect and dignity just because of what their body is.

I don’t want to hear “You should work out more" or “You should eat less" as though it’s actually that fucking simple. There’s more to it than that. Which you would know if you were actually fat.

But instead you’re just judgmental.

Sorry my existence is such a burden for you, and me not just accepting your derision without standing up for myself is such a fucking oppression.

But I forgive you, because you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Civil Rights, Exhaustion and Paula Deen

I used to be able to talk a lot more about politics and social justice, but talking about those things on the internet has made me exhausted of talking about those things on the internet. The outrage, the defensiveness, the arrogance... It's really hard to deal with these things anymore. It's not like having a screaming match on social media actually wins or changes anything, and I know what I think is right without having to have it validated by having made some boorish lout call me fat or whatever they think is going to hurt me the most.

I had wanted to write something about the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing Prop 8, but so many people are saying it so much better--particularly people who were oppressed by these pieces of legislation, which I, though offended by their existence and disgusted with my nation for enacting them, was not directly oppressed by. I'm glad these two things are gone. And yes, I know the end of DOMA doesn't mean gay marriage is automatically legal all across the country. Lots of people are pointing that out, as if this victory for a more enlightened future is somehow meaningless because it didn't fix everything at once. This was a federal action that made it legal to treat people as if they were less human and therefore less entitled to protection and representation under the law because some people find boys kissing icky. If you can't celebrate the end of that particular piece of odious nonsense, you've lost sight of what you're fighting for. Another step on the road. And a good one.

The real oddity and outrage is the Supreme Court also doing away with a key piece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Texas immediately taking advantage of it in order to make it hard for people of color to vote. Scalia--who will one day be mercifully dead, I keep reminding myself--seemed to justify this by claiming that racism doesn't exist anymore, which was news to me. Roberts seemed to confirm that it was important legislation that ensured equal access to voting even as he let it go down in flames because, you know, racism is totally not a thing anymore because Obama.

I just... the dissonance... I can't... protecting voting rights is important, so let's stop legally protecting them... but the same justices... think it's an insult... to stop protecting inequality in marriage... so... what? Have you read Scalia's weirdly homophobic and angry dissent on the DOMA decision? He basically says that the Supreme Court shouldn't be able to decide what's constitutional and what isn't. Well, sure, unless you go by the actual Constitution, which gives the Supreme Court that exact power. He also claims to be upset that striking down DOMA gives the states too much power to discriminate against the LGBT community, despite having just struck down legislation that was stopping the states from having the power to discriminate against minority voters.

Sometimes you just can't see a way out for this stupid country and its stupid bigotry.

Just fucking grow up already, America.

And also there's Paula Deen.

I already hated this woman for two reasons. First, because she irritates the living fuck out of me with her loud, obnoxious caricature of a Southern woman. "Put some South in your mouth"? Jam a brick in it. And second, because for years she peddled this pleasing fantasy that you could and should eat all of the butter and gravy and cream and shit you want without worrying about the health costs, only to become diabetic, and then to not tell her audience she was diabetic until she had made a deal to peddle diabetes medication. Opportunism, the kind this country encourages because free market.

I have a bunch of thoughts on this controversy, which is way more thoughts than I like having about Paula Deen, so I'm exorcising them right now.

A. She is definitely being made an example of.

B. Yes, liberals can be just as big a bunch of bullies and hypocrites as conservatives, but I also don't see why that means people have to be tolerant of intolerance.

C. Live by the market, die by the market. Some people think Paula losing so much of her livelihood because of the racist comments is an outsize punishment. I would argue that the Food Network, Smithfield Hams, Walmart and all of the other companies dropping her have the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want someone who has offended a great deal of the population with her comments representing them.

D. Paula Deen did make those comments something like 20 years ago. Honestly, I was much more offended by her openly pining for the days of the Antebellum South with her fantasy of a Plantation-themed wedding and her fear that doing something like that would make people think she was a racist. Gee, you think it might? Just a little? Do you think maybe someone would argue that there's really only one kind of person who thinks something like that might be wonderful?

E. When someone is deposing you and asks if you've ever used a significant racial slur, just keep tight and say "Yes" or even "Yes, in the past, I'm sorry to say I have." Do not say "Yes, of course."

F. Is the timing of this significant? Not to be conspiracy theory guy, but this stuff getting exposed almost days before her Food Network contract was set to expire seems awfully convenient for someone.

G. The apology video only made things worse. It looked like this: record. say line. pause. publicist feeds Paula another line. record. say line. pause. etc. You couldn't find your own words regarding how bad you felt about all of that?

H. Seriously, though, I never thought I'd see the day when someone was too racist for even Walmart to support. Also, the people who are now supporting her by buying her book and signing up for her cruise... how many of them genuinely think Paula's character is being assassinated, and how many are closet racists congratulating her for having the courage to say what they all want to say?

I honestly don't want to speculate on whether or not Paula Deen is still a racist. I don't know enough about her to speculate or care. But I do feel like she's probably not enough of an active hatemonger to want the support of those people who always come out of the woodwork to support hate speech.

Seriously, have you read enough of the comments about how black people "get" to "always" say "racist shit" and "we have to just accept it" for this round of white outrage yet?

UPDATE 6/28: Roger clarifies for me that only Section 3 of DOMA was struck down. He's right, a LOT of people are misreporting that.

UPDATE #2 6/28: The Rude Pundit's column on this is excellent.

What Counts More on MasterChef: Presentation or Flavor?

I'm trying to figure this out. Last night, Lynn and Jonny made French macarons as their pressure test, and Jonny was eliminated, ostensibly because his macarons looked bad and he had smashed the box he put them in trying to close it in a moment of frustration. I don't buy the idea that they need someone who can handle the pressure of a kitchen because, honestly, the prize here is not running a restaurant, it's writing a cookbook. I still maintain that, despite the show's insistence that this program is an American institution that permeates every aspect of our lives, being the winner of the American MasterChef is more or less meaningless. From a cultural standpoint, that is.

So, Lynn's cookies were pretty. Beautiful, even. But they complained so much about the flavor, and praised Jonny's flavor over his presentation. And Jonny was eliminated, so... are they looking for pretty food more than they are food that actually tastes good? I mean, what's a beautiful presentation worth if it doesn't taste good? The point of food is still actually eating it, right? Or has that changed now, too?

Of course, at all times I'm still wondering if the cooking isn't completely beside the point, anyway, and the producers just gradually decide who is going to be the winner based on who is the best sell: the one with the most appealing story (overcoming blindness, being a wunderkind) and, apparently, who's the prettiest and most pleasant. I think this idea of making it a good, sensationalized story is why we have situations like the one several weeks ago when Sasha Foxx was eliminated right out of the gate instead of Howard, even though Howard's food was apparently so offensive that Joe threw it in the trash before the judges could even taste it. It's typical TV logic: "Howard's food was so bad I wouldn't even deign to eat it, so let's send the 42 year-old black woman home."

Anyway, going by past MasterChef logic, Jessie's the obvious winner this season. She's blonde, she's pretty, Gordon seems to have a massive, blood-draining hard-on for her, so I'll be surprised if she's not at least in the final three. She seems pleasant enough, just a bit bland, and I find the constant attempts to make a sellable story out of "privileged Southern belle" rather ridiculous. Nothing against her personally, I just don't find her very interesting, and Gordon's constant insistence that her overcoming her privileged roots is compelling and trying to impose the whole Southern cooking character on her all that convincing. Sasha was from the South, too, and she had a personality, just saying. Not that they were ever going to have someone in their forties get that far on this show, I mean, come on. (Sarcasm. I feel bad that I should have to point that out, but there's always someone.)

I don't know, maybe if we saw more cooking and less of Russell Crowe, Big Bopper and Joffrey Bastianich having their pissy little meltdowns I'd think differently. But no, the three judges are really the kind of people I'd like to spend more time with. (Yeah, sarcasm.)

Great Birds of the Galaxy

I've never cared for that nickname, really. I do, however, really like this picture I saw on Tumblr.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

TV Report

Some brief notes on TV such and such.

:: I loved Hannibal and I'm glad to see it coming back.

:: I love Defiance. Finally, a science fiction series that I really feel invested in again. Love the characters, and it's only been getting better week after week.

:: I gave up on Bates Motel at some point. Great production design on that show, though.

:: I enjoyed the new Arrested Development episodes, but I didn't love them. I was never one of the people clamoring for it to come back. The availability of all the episodes at once caused the most idiotic debates I've ever seen about how to watch a TV show, as if watching all the episodes at once somehow invalidates the experience, and watching one episode every week is morally correct or some such shit. It was actually funnier than the episodes themselves. I liked the format they went with, where each episode more or less focused on one character and then some side plots rather than carrying every storyline through every episode, which is something the third season suffered with, because the story itself had more room to breathe rather than having to shoehorn every character into every episode. I concede, though, that the episodes folding back on themselves and catching us up with what everyone was doing for all the years we didn't see them made it hard to follow at times, and the payoff wasn't really there. Like I said, I enjoyed them, but I didn't love them.

My real complaints are that I still don't find Will Arnett funny, I'm still tired of all the shtick involving David Cross's character, and the sound mixing was surprisingly bad. But Ron Howard was hilarious as himself.

Maybe next season, when they're not doing catch-up so frantically and they're not quite so densely plotted, the characters will come through better. If there is a next season. Would it really be a tragedy if there weren't?

:: I'm also not really going to be mourning Futurama, now in its second final season. Not that I don't like the show, but I haven't really found many of the Comedy Central episodes that great.

:: The less said about the new Hell's Kitchen, the who the hell even cares anymore?

:: The editing on this season of MasterChef is terrible. Bad enough that Joe's growth into fully-realized human being last season has worn away and he's now just a walking gonad (tonight Becca's question for Joe was "What toy did Santa not bring you that makes you this?"), but the show is almost totally jettisoning the entire cooking aspect of the damn competition. The theory behind this season's editing seems to be why get caught up on things like cooking and food when we can have so much more time for setting up stupid rivalries and listening to the judges talk and talk and talk and talk about how this is an amateur competition before penalizing everyone for not having professional standards. Seriously, less of Joe, Graham and Gordon would be really nice here. We don't even see everyone have their food tasted anymore. There's one guy there, Lynn, who everyone thinks is a frontrunner and an amazing chef and who always gets picked first for every team, and because we've spent so little time actually seeing him cook or even (until recently) watching the judges try his food, I have literally no idea why everyone thinks he's so amazing. Maybe less time on trying to create a villain for the season and more cooking on your cooking show, you think?

:: Game of Thrones was amazing. Mostly. I find Ygritte incredibly annoying.

:: True Blood is back. It's just there, like always, carrying every bad plot line forward in little increments without any regard for trying to create coherent, compelling episodes. But Rutger Hauer is a lot of fun so far this season. Pretty much just watching for him right now. Otherwise, it's just out of habit and my continuing interest in seeing Joe Manganiello in various stages of undress. I'm almost as into his body as he is.

:: So damn glad The Venture Bros. is finally back on.

:: I've been catching up on Parenthood this month. I really like this show quite a bit. I'm into season four now, the show's most recent, and this cancer subplot is kind of kicking my ass because it makes me think about my sister. So I'm very emotionally involved. It's an emotionally involving show. I never bothered to watch it before, but I'm glad to see it's coming back because it turns out it's a show I really like.

:: Otherwise, still watching Dance Moms, Pretty Little Liars and the just-ended Veep. And probably some other stuff I'm not remembering.

Did anyone watch Under the Dome? Would you recommend it? I'm still on the fence there, but I see it's on and I'm just curious enough.

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

I don't really know anything about the actual Jodi Arias case--I consciously try not to follow America's glamour trials, or really anything Nancy Grace bleats on about--so I can't say what the movie accurately reflects or what. I did think Tania Raymonde was pretty good in it (I've liked her since Malcolm in the Middle). Just based on what I was seeing in the movie, I found her surprisingly sympathetic; she came across like a woman with emotional and mental issues who read too much into what was happening in her relationship, and the guy seemed to be taking advantage of that to get sex because, I'll just be honest here, crazy girls are fun to fuck. Really, I was surprised how little sympathy I had for the victim. Again, I'm talking about what I saw in the movie, not about the real people, because how the hell would I know? It's lurid and sleazy and not as steamy as it wants to be, and because motivations aren't really delved into, a lot of Jodi's unbalanced actions seem to come out of left field. The trial itself is glossed over, which is fine because that means less Nancy Grace, and less Nancy Grace in the world can only help things. Still, weirdly enjoyable in that good-bad, stupid-good "eating ice cream for dinner" kind of way. **1/2

Monday, June 24, 2013

Richard Matheson 1926-2013

Thank you for so much of the enjoyment I've had in my life.

Kristen Bell Mondays

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Song of the Week: "You Are"

I came across this song on Tumblr yesterday. Boy, I used to love this song when I was a kid, but I'm pretty sure I haven't heard it since nineteen eighty-something or other. I had totally forgotten it, but when that chorus kicks in what a wave of nice nostalgia that hit me. This is from 1982, which is the era of music I've been listening to right now, and this is the kind of pop thing that I always like (and Prince and Michael Jackson and Hall & Oates and Huey Lewis... yeah, I'm doing that right now). Maybe it's a little cheesy, but so what. Just the right song for today.

80s Revisited: Firestarter

Firestarter (1984)
Directed by Mark L. Lester; screenplay by Stanley Mann; produced by Frank Capra Jr. and Martha de Laurentiis.

Here's the thing with Firestarter: I never remember anything about this movie except that Drew Barrymore and George C. Scott are in it. It was produced during a massive run of movies based on Stephen King novels, and so many of those are just so much better, that this one gets completely overlooked by me. I've seen it a few times in my life--of course, because Drew Barrymore is in it and I've been in love with her since I was 6 years old--but nothing about it ever really holds in my head. So when I saw it show up on the Encore schedule, I decided to sit and watch it and see if I could rediscover something I had missed. Or at least had kept forgetting about.

And you know what?

That was literally four months ago. I had completely forgotten until today that I had seen it again. Once more, nothing really held in my mind at all. It just goes right through me.

Oh, there are things I liked about it. Drew, for one, is adorable even though she's directed in kind of an "aw, what a cute kid" manner. I like the way she and George C. Scott have their relationship which turns into a cruel trick to earn her trust--something that might have had much more impact if we were caught by surprise with it; knowing he's playing her the whole time lessens its dramatic impact. I liked Art Carney, but I always like Art Carney. David Keith does the best he can with a pretty silly approach to the story; every time he puts his hands up to his head and we hear the weird noise effects to indicate he's using his mind powers, I kept wanting to see the words MIIIIIIIND POWERSSSSS!!!! at the bottom of the screen. Wouldn't be any more over the top. Same with Drew and the way they turn the fans on her when she goes all pyro. I'd forgotten Martin Sheen and Heather Locklear were in it.

I've never read this particular King novel. I probably have a copy somewhere with Drew on the cover, so maybe I will one day. He wrote it around the same time as The Dead Zone, which is a great book and a much better movie than this one. I think there are the seeds of a decent movie in here that never got made and probably never will. Quit redoing Carrie--de Palma got that right the first time--and take another crack at this one.

This movie, it's just like filler to me. You know how, when you're hungry but you don't have time to grab a meal, you just eat some kind of snack and then you instantly forget you ever ate it? That's what this flick is like. The director next went on to make Commando, and the screenwriter next went on to work on Conan the Destroyer, two more filler movies.

I wonder if, in a bit, I'll forget I ever wrote this post.