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A tale of two movie trailers

There are two movie trailers out right now that exemplify the contrasting feelings towards obesity in our culture. Let’s start with the negative so we can end on a high note.

Date Movie – Trailer

Wow. Where do I start? The first 50 seconds of this trailer shows Alyson Hannigan in a fat suit dancing in the street to the revulsion of a group of construction workers and getting hosed down by some firemen. I have to say I’m actually offended by this, and I’m not easily offended. Usually I think people who are offended by movies are high-strung idiots who need to see a proctologist about that pole stuck up their collective ass. But here I sit, all offended. I know this is just a stupid, low-brow, comedy movie that is probably out to offend its audience, but it disturbs me that such open ridicule of the obese is allowed in our society.

It has been said that fat suits are the contemporary equivalent of black face. Seeing this trailer proved this point to me. When white people wear black face, the audience has permission to laugh at the racial stereotypes they are portraying without having to feel uncomfortable about laughing at an actual black person. When people see Alyson Hannigan doing ridiculous things in a fat suit, they can feel comfortable laughing at the obesity stereotypes she is portraying because they aren’t laughing at a real fat person. We all know she gets to take the fat suit off at the end of the day. She is in on the joke with you.

I don’t want to imagine how I would feel if this trailer came on before a movie I was seeing at the theatre. I would guess every laugh from the audience would be like an acoustic punch to my gut. I hope they would have turned out the lights by that point because it’s a lot harder to strangle people in the dark, and I’m too young and cute to go to prison for mass murder.

I’m especially disappointed that Alyson Hannigan is the one committing this offense. She played a quirky but sweet geek on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer who I particularly related to. Her new comedy How I Met Your Mother is probably the only laugh-track sit-com that I enjoy watching these days. I know she had success in the American Pie movies, which may be why she took the lead in a similar gross-out comedy. I would hope she just succumbed to external pressure to do the fat-suit shtick because she wanted a job and there are so few roles for women in Hollywood. But honestly, I thought better of her than this. Sorry Alyson, but you suck.

Now, to cheer you up, check out this trailer:

Phat Girlz – Trailer

Wow. Where do I start? A movie about a fat girl who is actually confident and sassy and learning to accept herself as she is. And the hot guy likes her! How the hell did this get made? Mo’Nique must have knocked off a lot of liquor stores last year, because I don’t know how else this could get funded in Hollywood, the town where a size 8 is fat. I had decided to see this movie when Mo’Nique was telling the bank officer that the plus-size fashion business would be profitable because fat girls have a hard time finding cool clothes. Obviously this film was written by someone who understands what it’s like to be fat.

While I haven’t seen the movie (I don’t think it’s even out yet), I get the impression Mo’Nique is not going to have to change to get her guy since I doubt she loses 100 pounds by the end of the film. I’ve always disliked movies where a hot guy falls for a geeky/homely girl but then she has an instant makeover and everything’s peachy.

The film seems to be targeted at African-Americans because it features a mostly black cast. Warning! Warning! I’m going to try not to sound racist here, but I’m probably going to fail. I wonder if this helped increase the film’s chances of being made since, in my own experience, overweight black women seem to be more confident and assertive than their white counterparts. Obesity seems to be slightly better accepted in the African-American community than in the white community. Okay, end of racist assumptions here. Also, end of blog entry.

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11 Comments

Laura Bora • February 8, 2006 at 2:07 pm

I’m so over that fat suit thing!

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christie • February 8, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Yeah, I am pissed about that preview too. Also the part with “Jal-Lo” with her butt knocking everything over. What the hell I mean J-LO has a nice booty and she is thin, in good shape, healthy? Geez.

I agree about the black thing – and I am NOT a racist at ALL. But for example, the only men who EVER hit on me are black. It is definitely more accepted.

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little miss ess • February 8, 2006 at 3:23 pm

I think that the “Date Movie” was trying to do a piss-take on fat suit movies like Shallow Hal and whatever that one was that just came out in the summer with the guy who wore the fat suit and got skinny and won the girl of his dreams. Just so lame and unfunny. And offensive, yes. I’d like to think that here in NYC if the trailer ran in a movie theater, it would get boos and hisses just for its general suckitude.

That Mo’Nique movie looked cute. You know, I think a lot of minority-made movies (and here I’m thinking about Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman)find ways to go outside of traditional Holly wood sources of funding to get made. I’ll bet Mo’Nique had to put up a ton of her own dough to get that made. But I’ll bet she will rake it in, too.

Did you ever see that indie film, Real Women Have Curves? It was just wonderful.

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M, the fat girl • February 9, 2006 at 1:43 am

Gah. I’m going to have to offer a counterpoint on Real Women Have Curves. I hated it. For real. HATED. Because: a) what is this “real women” business? For serious. “Real womanhood” is defined by body type? You can fuck right off if you are telling me this is true, no matter what body type you advocate. b) Oh God, the script. America Ferrara, the young lead actress, is a pretty charming screen presence, but with a script like that…the whole thing goes down like a lead balloon. The most stilted dialogue ever. SO much an afterschool special.

…Which is kind of what I fear about Phat Girlz, too. It’s got “MESSAGE” written all over it. I know we’re laying the groundwork and all, but I am excited for the part where the fat girl gets to date someone without having to make the whole movie about it. Like, there’s just some fat girl in a movie and no one’s doing a whole song and dance about how she’s fat and it’s terrible OR about how she’s fat and it’s okay. She’s just fat, and doing things. That’s the part I’m looking forward to.

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Kirsten • February 9, 2006 at 4:25 am

I thought better of Alyson Hannigan, too. Though I loathed American Pie II (haven’t seen the others).

I’ve not seen any of the trailers, or indeed Real Women Have Curves (although I have heard good things about it). But I would be a little uncomfortable with the notion of defining “womanhood” by body type, as well. I have a friend who’s tall, naturally thin and not at all curvy, and has been on the receiving end of comments about not being a “real woman”. Although my immediate reaction is to think that I’d like to have her problem, these comments are hurtful.

And it would be nice to see a film where there was no comment on the protagonist’s body, as M suggests.

On the other hand, I do hate films where the girl has to change, and that’s still the norm, so maybe we need to let the film industry take little steps. (I hold a certain fondness for Miss Congeniality for this very reason: because Gracie comes in at the end and she’s not all glammed-up any more, she’s herself. She hasn’t had some kind of girliness ephiphany… I am not intending to see Miss Congeniality II, though!)

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anji • February 9, 2006 at 4:36 pm

Miss Congeniality II actually strengthens the image that women should not change for anyone. Gracie goes to an elementary school of a little girl who wrote to her requesting advice and her advice was to change for no one and just be yourself. I thought that was nice :)

Another movie I loved (and I really am learning to love this actress seriously) is the one with Queen Latifah, called um, Last Holiday….

It’s all about learning to love yourself and your life :)

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monica • February 11, 2006 at 9:47 am

hi there :) u soooo don’t sound racist to me about obesity maybe being more acceptable in the african american community. as an african american overweight female myself i have found that many men in our culture SOMETIMES do prefer women with a lil more meat on our bones and sometimes it is more acceptable to be curvier and/or heavier. why this is i have no clue…

at 203 lbs i have been told by many men

NOT to lose anymore weight … upon which i laugh at them and move on lol….

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Wendy • February 11, 2006 at 11:22 am

There was actually a study a few years back that proved (at least in adolescents) that young “black” women had a much stronger body imgage than their “white” peers. They were much less likely to associate body image with personal worth.

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Nikki • February 12, 2006 at 11:24 am

You’re right on by saying that obesity is more accepted in the black community. I grew up overweight and my body was not an issue. Men love it. They love the curves. I think there’s something culturally/anthropologically that says a woman with curves is fertile and homey.

Mo’Nique is on a mission and she’s going to get there. It’s going to have to go through the phases of nothing, then telling the story, then it’s just another movie where the lead happens to be fat. It’s a process.

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Chris • March 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

“Being offended” is over-rated, generally pointless, but I think you’re right here: there is times when its warranted. I remember Date Movie was a shitty movie anyhow and it didn’t do well in the theaters, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of other people agree with what you said.

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Lauren • April 12, 2011 at 10:13 am

I know it’s years after the fact but I just wanted to add:

racism (noun): a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

Your comments are NOT racist. In fact you are somewhat complementing African American culture by saying they have more acceptance to obesity. You are obviously NOT claiming superiority, which is the heart of racism. Just because you mention race, or that race is part of the equation, does not make it RACIST.

Sorry, that’s just a HUGE pet peeve of mine. The meaning of racism has gotten so completely skewed by the liberal propaganda media machine constantly misusing it.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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