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GitM 1 —

March 1, 2010
by

Okay, so Saturday, I went into a sort of trance.

When I awoke, I was covered in mud, there was a squirrel carcass under my pillow and I had written “DIE CAPITALIST PIGS” in goat blood (there aren’t any pigs in our neighborhood) on the bedroom wall.

In the living room I wrote “GLASS ONION.”

And on my computer I found a 4,500 word letter from the Unabomber.

I don’t know how he got into my house, but I’m guessing Larry let him in.

Okay, this wasn’t a supernatural occurrence: I actually spent 4.5 hours writing nonstop about obesity and capitalism.

Afterward, I read through it and it seemed to make sense at times, but for the most part it was hyperbolic nonsense. Rather than simply refuting a fat hater, I took a rather deep detour into Hypothetical Country, which I hadn’t really intended.

The point I wanted to make was still there, but it was buried in words.

And since I have another night to write, I thought I might try again.

This time with a little less pizzazz.

(Pizzazz being French for “words.”)

Okay, so same trigger warning. I’m going into fat hater country, so if you find fat haters insufferable, you may find today’s post unpleasant.

Now, here’s now Get in the Mud works: instead of the usual Fat Acceptance vs. Fat Hater argument, which is pointless and goes nowhere because both sides believe they are arguing from the basis of science and reason (despite the fat that the science is clearly on our side).

So instead of trying to convince them to accept our truths, we will accept their truths and still dismantle their arguments.

Now, this is only applicable to those of extreme viewpoints… the ones who think there should be some sort of punitive system in place to “motivate” fatties to lose weight. These are the people who believe weight cycling is due to poor willpower and if you’re fat it’s because you’re a lazy, gluttonous fool who is eating him or herself to death.

We know it’s not true and we’re never going to convince them otherwise, so let’s just say “Okay, you’re right, my day consists primarily of eating and watching television. You’ve pegged me Colombo.”

Then if that’s the case; if the problem is that we are simply unable to control ourselves in this abundant environment; if that means we need you, Joe the Senator, to enact legislation to forcibly intervene on my behalf, then before we do so, let’s examine the issue a little deeper from your perspective.

We all can agree that weight in America began to climb in the 1970s, around the time several major changes in agribusiness and legislation that led to a rapidly evolving food industry. We all know that the food industry uses every available tool to make processed foods as appealing as possible, physiologically, psychologically, and economically.

The one thing MeMe talked about that I’d like to learn more about is neuromarketing. I’m not surprised that they use it. Anyone who’s taken high school psychology has learned about the psychology of supermarkets (similar to the psychology of casinos).

If the reason we’ve gotten fatter in the past 30 years is just because every single fat person is gluttonous and lazy, then we need to ask what changed 30 years ago that made us so insatiable and lazy?

The latter is the easier to answer, in my opinion. The 20th century, most notably after World War II, should go down as the Leisure Century for the United States.

Beginning in the 1950s, a new economy began to emerge: consumer capitalism.

Having just ended both a horrific global war and a torturous Depression, the country was all too eager to embrace this country’s newfound wealth. And our wealth brought about innovative, time saving devices, such as dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, sewing machines, lawn mowers, and TV dinners.

It also saw the beginning of entertainment as a serious industry, Tin Pan Alley being the grandfather of conglomerate rock. Movies, which had been a source of comfort throughout the tumultuous ‘30s and ‘40s, now began capitalizing on our passion for escapism. Despite the strict Codes of the ‘50s, Marilyn Monroe managed to titillate (tee hee hee) men, while Cary Grant… um… penised his way into women’s hearts.

It was in the 1950s that leisure time became a precious commodity’s. Eisenhower’s interstate system made family vacations possible (thanks a fucking lot Eisenhower). Theme parks sprung up with alacrity. Television offered escapism in the comfort of our own homes.

From 1950 through 2010, you can directly trace the evolution of the value of leisure. Our entire economy is based on the promotion of leisure. Walmart’s sole purpose is to sell us shit we never knew we needed because it will make life just a little easier.

We’re the nation that invented the fucking Clapper and Minute Rice.

Or as Brian Regan says, you can nuke a Pop Tart in three seconds.

There is almost nothing in this nation that we value more than our leisure time. Our evenings and weekends are testaments to Leisure Culture.

Now, “leisure” and “lazy” don’t mean the same thing. There are people who find physical activity quite leisurely. Others find physical leisure completely miserable. Of that latter group, some feel compelled to “workout” in order to stay healthy, while the rest say “fuck it” and spend their leisure time the way they prefer, be it television, internet, movies, video games, whatever.

(Keep in mind, we’re in Fat Haterland, so we’re conceding that all fat people are lazy, gluttonous fools).

Now, first of all, for that latter, former group (the people who ”workout” despite hating it) must be really miserable. I mean, just think about it. Leisure time is so precious in this country, yet there are people who feel like they have to do something they hate in order to be healthy. That would really make you grumpy after awhile. Especially if you were depriving yourself of the foods you wanted too. If you’re doing things you hate and eating things you don’t necessarily love, then life has to be pretty frustrating.

Meanwhile, us fatties who eat what we want and do what we want, but we enjoy ourselves and make the most of our valuable leisure time.

But then, we’re all going to die young, right?

So, clearly we’re too embedded in this Leisure Culture to resist the ability to do absolutely nothing, so we need someone else to help us.

There are tons of suggestions out there for getting our fat asses off the couch, such as firing employees who can’t or won’t lose weight.

But why tinker around the edges? Why stop at intervening on behalf of those who are already fat? Don’t we want to prevent all people from getting fat?

Then we need to reject Leisure Culture.

For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we should immediately put an end to a culture that encourages us to use our free time as we see fit. We must shut down satellite television, all cinemas, all concert venues, all record stores, all internet service.

Because, let’s face it, the temptation to veg out in front of a screen can lure even the most dedicated fitness buff into the clutches of obesity.

Not to mention the children.

So, in order to improve our health as a nation, we must say NO! to leisure time activities and, instead, embrace the New American Austerity.

Just as my grandmother entertained herself by taking walks with her girlfriend during the Great Depression, we too must not allow easy distractions to keep us from focusing on our health.

For those of you saying, “Wait a minute, I’m not fat, why should I have to give up my pursuit of happiness?” Because you could just as easily be a fatty as any of us. As could your children.

Remember, we have to think of the children.

So, that takes care of our laziness, but what about our food?

As previously stated, our food culture began changing in the 1970s with the food industry using the same no-holds-barred capitalist techniques to make their products as appealing as possible. For the majority of that time, we’ve taken the attitude that laissez-faire Capitalism best served our nation. Corporate interests could be trusted to regulate itself. If I create a product that sells like hotcakes, then I deserve to be made wealthy for it, barring some life threatening issue.

So, if corporations stock our grocery aisles with addictive, seductive and, ultimately, unhealthy food items and we’re willing to pay for them, then more power to them.

Because despite whatever marketing tricks they use to entice us to buy and despite whatever gustatory manipulations they use to make their food intensely pleasurable, it is still our fault for buying and then eating it.

Nevermind the fact that we’ve adapted from the single income household of the 1950s to the double income household of today, we should still make food preparation the same time-consuming priority that it was in those days of yore.

But, again, in order to save lives, we must take drastic steps. Therefore, we must reject consumer capitalism, the economic model which says that consumer demand trumps social good every time. If it sells, then sell it.

Clearly this has been disastrous in terms of our health. What consumers seem to want is cheap, convenient, calorie-dense foods in massive quantities. But since all fatties are gluttonous fools, this is only fueling our obesity epidemic.

And since we cannot limit this restriction to a single industry, we must reject consumer capitalism completely. All luxury products or products of convenience must go, as they all encourage a Please Me culture that puts more emphasis on my happiness than the health or welfare of our nation.

In short, we must step away from the easy, office jobs and go back to a manufacturing-based economy, accepting lower wages and harsher working environments so we can meet the price demands of the newer, wealthier first world nations.

Because if obesity, heart disease and diabetes are diseases of affluence, then it seems the only solution to reverse the current trend is to cast off affluence and embrace austerity.

Or are you not willing to make that sacrifice yourself?

You think only the fatties should pay for this culture of abundance? You think thin people shouldn’t be punished for the fatties’ lack of discipline?

But then you’re only going after those who are currently fat. The danger still exists for future generations to fall into the fat trap, so we have to intervene on behalf of ALL Americans, and not just the ones who are currently fat.

Because, as MeMe Fucking Roth says, prevention is much, much easier than treating obesity after the fact.

Let’s go America! Let’s prevent all future obesity by embracing the New American Austerity! Let us reject leisure and convenience, and embrace the hearty, pioneering spirit in order to stop the fatties today!

So, if anyone would like to read the 4,500 word version, just let me know. I’ll be glad to post it, I just doubt anyone would be glad to read it.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2010 2:29 pm

    It’ll never fly, being thin is genetic and one doesn’t need to embrace austerity in order to stay thin or pass that thinness on to future generations. However, being fat is not genetic (just ask the fat-haters, they know it all, they think), it’s caused by laziness and gluttony, so only the fat have to embrace that austerity. If you think the thin are going to embrace austerity in order to ensure that the fat also embrace it, just to get rid of fatties, it ain’t gonna happen. The haters don’t want to be part of a “sensible” solution, they just want to get rid of us, and they don’t care how that happens. I don’t think getting down in the mud with them on this is going to change their minds – from everything I’ve ever seen in my 56 years of life, you can’t change the mind of a zealot or a fanatic (and people like MeMe Roth are zealots and fanatics). You could slap them in the face all day long with facts and they will never believe them (God, or whatever higher power in which you believe, could come and tell MeMe she is wrong and she wouldn’t believe it).

    • March 1, 2010 3:15 pm

      But remember, the point of GitM isn’t to change MeMe’s mind. It is to change the minds of all those around MeMe by pointing out how absurd their position is. What they propose (tinkering around the edges) will have no impact on the overall culture which encourages and rewards consumption. One of the side effects of consumption (if you accept that all fatties are fat due to lifestyle) is that we have a plethora of foods to choose from and we are encouraged to buy them. So we have to change the whole culture if we really want to change our bodies.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  2. March 1, 2010 2:51 pm

    The issue with this is that it’s going to make TOO MUCH SENSE to the haters.

    You just ask Meme Roth if she thinks that everyone should go back to working manual labor jobs and eating nothing but raw foods they have grubbed from the earth themselves, and I bet you she’d say yes.

    Pass a law declaring ding dongs illegal? Ban the sale of cheese? Yeah – she’d sign up for it.

    I always assumed that after the cigarette companies were taken down, the food companies would be the next on the chopping block.

    The key is to actually make the haters SAY OUT LOUD that what they want is to make pizza illegal… only THEN will we arrive at a backlash of people who will say… umm, wait a minute… maybe we don’t have to get all crazy with this.

    • March 1, 2010 3:19 pm

      You’re right. MeMe would agree. But all the better.

      By staking out an extreme position, you may draw her into agreement. But the majority of the country would not agree. They like having the freedom to consume, they like having the freedom to do what they want in their free time. Most people would not want to sacrifice their own freedom for the health of the nation. Most people just want the “other” person to have to give up their freedoms.

      But for the sake of the children, we can accept nothing less than a culture-wide shift in consumption habits, which will affect more than just fatties.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  3. March 1, 2010 6:32 pm

    “But for the sake of the children, we can accept nothing less than a culture-wide shift in consumption habits, which will affect more than just fatties.”

    See, I agree with this 100% but not for ‘health’ reasons but when it comes to the environment and sustainable living. There needs to be a change, and quick, by EVERYONE, but you’ll never see everyone agree. Everyone just thinks the Other Person needs to change.

    • March 2, 2010 11:14 am

      Jen,
      No doubt, the American consumer culture is devastating in multiple ways, but we’ll never see a change in our lifetime. It will take a national disaster that affects everyone in this country to finally put pressure on us to do something about it. You’re right, almost every single person in this country is will to make drastic changes in the lives of others, but no one is willing to sacrifice their own luxury and leisure.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  4. dufmanno permalink
    March 1, 2010 9:37 pm

    Did you just steal my weekend, erase my leisure time, take away my processed food and send me back to my back breaking manual labor job? Holy shit, that was a good post!
    I don’t think I’ve ever said this before but I think I also want the 4500 word version and I need for you to have your own column in HuffPo.

    • March 2, 2010 11:17 am

      I was actually proposing it specifically for you because I think that dufmanno is the REAL cause of the obesity epidemic. Your devil-may-care attitude is toxic and you’re dragging this country down with you, dammit!

      I’m going to post the monster on Atchka! so it doesn’t clutter of FFFs. I don’t even know if it really makes sense any more. But I have to go back and add some links and double check some facts before I post. I divided it up like an in-depth article, so you can read a section a day. You should be able to finish it in a month.

      And I’d love to to write for HuffPo, but I think it’s a cult and you have to be invited or something. I’m so willing to go through whatever dangerous, degrading and humiliating rituals are necessary to join, though.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  5. Trabb's Boy permalink
    March 2, 2010 9:16 am

    I don’t think it requires austerity. I think it requires innovation and a change in some of the power balance in Washington.

    The capitalist system is structured to cater to people’s wants. If, as a society, we believe that our wants are harmful to us (and we’re not debating that in this particular post), then simple tinkering with legislation can shift that. If, for example, tax breaks or longer patent protection were made available for equipement and activities that get people moving, more companies would be looking for ways to make exercise fun. If subsidies currently going to corn production were shifted to green vegetables, there would be a lot more convenience products containing green vegetables. Right now, there is no particular incentive for business to cater to anything but our lazy, greedy natures.

    For example, gyms now get as much money as they can from you up front. Unless you are really good looking or crazy enough to spend the kind of money they demand for personal trainers and nutritional “experts” they don’t really want you to stick around. If they got some kind of incentive based on the number of times clients came to the gym, they’d be a lot more inclined to make it fun for everybody, not just the gym rat types. They could organize scavenger hunts or dance competitions or laser tag battles instead of just “push yourself until you’re filled with pain and smugness” classes.

    And convenience food — I can imagine a granola-bar equivalent with roasted soybeans, dried spinach, carrot bits and a variety of savory flavors or dipping sauces. Not many people are going to take that over a granola bar, but if it’s a lot cheaper and well done, it could catch on. No one is innovative about serving vegetables because they’re too expensive to grow.

    Okay, going on too long, but I do think we could all live healthier lives without turning back the clock or destroying our current lifestyle.

    • March 2, 2010 11:21 am

      I contend that even if they changed subsidies to fruits and veggies, the food industry would then use those cheap products to create value-added “health” products that are completely stripped of their nutritional value.

      And although alternative convenience health foods that are as cheap as convenience junk foods could compete, I still think the majority of the population would go for the sugary, salty, fatty foods first.

      And remember, this argument isn’t about improving our health (I think that could be done with ending consumer culture), but about preventing people from eating themselves obese, which is what the MeMe Roth’s believe.

      I don’t think that any amount of incentives or punishments are going to induce people to abandon a leisurely lifestyle in favor of going to the gym, no matter how fun it looks. It’s just easier to be a couch potato. The immediate rewards of eating junk and lazing about are far too great compared to the long-term rewards of improving your health (if we are, indeed, a nation of gluttonous, lazy fools).

      Peace,
      Shannon

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