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Hey, Hey Mamma

March 7, 2013

You know that whenever Shannon picks me up off the floor from a dusty corner of the FFFs basement and shakes me out to start typing, that there will be no a shortage of stupidity and bad metaphors.

Today, however, I will try my hand at playing devil’s advocate and walking all over my own previous posts.

You may think back and remember with fondness my old school rants of yesteryear concerning sneaky she-devil and unlikely gazillionaire, Jillian Michaels — bane of the HAES community and the take-no-prisoners Alexander the Great of the fitness and diet industry.

Make no mistake, while I love to poke fun at anyone who insists I get out of my flannel pajamas and stop eating Captain Crunch on the couch, when Jillian Michaels announces that she is going to change your life, you’re filled with dread because she’s almost infectious and militant enough to propel you right off your ass and into a jumping jack/abs crunch death spiral.

For instance, take the recent advertisements that have been popping up all over the DC area indicating that Jillian will be appearing in a series of public speaking engagements of the inspirational variety — like a televangelist tending to her flock of “I’d like some skinny please” true believers. Starting with her inclusion on the panel of the 5th annual Get Radical Women’s Conference (taking place at the Hyatt Regency just outside of town from March 22-24), which gives powerful women seeking some powerful connections an opportunity to mingle, network and exchange ideas with other like-minded female leaders in the area. There’s also her solo run at Washington DC’s Warner Theatre on April 24th as a part of her Maximize Your Life tour.

Now, I can see Shannon spitting on the ground and cursing like my Nana over all these lucrative and well-attended live performances she’s got lined up, but I couldn’t help but think that it is my FFFs duty to attend at least ONE of these events. Not to hand over my money to a smiling Michaels as she pats herself on the back for yet another stellar financial coup, but to see what I’m actually railing against.

I mean, despite my cantankerous rants and armchair critic responses to Michaels, I’ve actually handed over money to see plenty of men and women who have openly made fat jokes for fun, all in the name of entertainment. David Sedaris went on a borderline-inappropriate-but-maddeningly-funny tangent during his last engagement about how nowhere near as many people would get behind the idea of a fat, slovenly dark-haired Jesus as opposed to the thin, good-looking, almost-Nordic-featured guy we have depicted in all our paintings. Was it wildly inappropriate and politically incorrect? Absolutely. Did I have tears of laughter running down my face? You bet.

Then there are the very controversial, but incredibly popular spoken word events of Henry Rollins, who I actually have had a soft spot for since I was a kid. He can be incredibly misogynistic and deeply dividing on subjects ranging from music to international travel, but he packs houses and I routinely spend money to see him every time he comes around. I once tried to defensively justify my continued liking of the guy by explaining to everyone that what you see onstage is actually a well-construed act and that he’s actually just a big boy scout with lots of great tattoos, but my argument fell mostly on deaf ears. Then someone pointed out that I was blindly supporting a guy who said he’s never date a fat woman and once sang the line “Slip It In.” I countered with the hard won Black Flag knowledge that Ginn wrote that particular song, but you how this whole thing’s was swirling around the “be more conscientious about your choices” bowl. There was no way I could win.

So here I stand, wondering if Jillian Michaels needs to be dealt with in the same way as the rest of our mindless, but sometimes fascinating, entertainment. Do I take one for the team and buy a ticket? Nothing Jillian will do or say during this appearance will make me go out and adopt new habits, but I’m sure I can’t give her a proper dressing down or even a valid critique unless I put in the time to see what this is all about.

Viewing your entertainment through the lens of someone who needs to remain vigilant about offending others is tiring. In addition to making the lives of people who want some sort of weight loss ideal miserable on The Biggest Loser, Michaels has also built an empire.

This means she’s diversified and surprised people enough to make a killing, and that makes her a heavily-muscled financial force to be reckoned with. So perhaps I’ll take that trip downtown to the Warner (STOP SPITTING ON MY CARPET SHANNON!) and see what all the hoopla is about.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2013 10:32 am

    I just noticed this lecture series the other day and said something on Facebook about how I would love to go and disrupt the show somehow (and film it, of course), but I can’t afford the tickets even if I wanted to go. But if anyone wants to buy me two front row tickets, I’d give a performance you’d never forget.

    I wouldn’t put Jillian in the same camp as Sedaris or even Rollins (who I raked over the coals before with Michelle Allison in our now-defunct video series). Although I find it cringe-worthy when celebrities make shitty comments about fat people (I’m actually writing about Tim Gunn doing so for this week’s Biggest Loser recap), I struggle with how to respond. Even my beloved MST3K made plenty of fat jokes over the 10 seasons they were on. Do I really have to hate them and boycott them for life for being mean to fatties? I think it’s an individual choice, but if you are the kind of person who writes off anyone who offends you, there are safe alternatives out there for you. Just not as many as the mainstream.

    When I hear a celebrity make a fat joke, my first inclination is to say “Was it necessary? Was it funny?” Jon Stewart’s fat suit certainly failed that test, IMHO, but that’s just me. I don’t think we can say “No fat jokes ever!” but I think you also have to look at the source. I’m more willing to accept fat jokes from someone who is self-deprecating (like Stewart or Conan O’Brien) than someone who seems to arrogantly attack everyone but themselves (like Tosh or Rollins). But again, that standard might not fly with most people who feel like making jokes at the expense of others is always wrong.

    In short (too late), I think it’s an individual’s judgement call and if I’m offended I can try and make the case to others so they can understand why I’m upset, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect comedians to stop doing making fat jokes or any other offensive jokes for that matter. I think the audience’s job is to draw boundaries and the comedian’s job to decide whether to ignore those boundaries or not.

    In any case, Jillian is not a comedian. She is a peddler of pseudo-science who gives people a false sense of expectations in terms of what the human body is capable of. She promotes an illusion that our bodies are malleable and changeable with enough effort, and though that is obviously true to a certain extent, it’s also true that our body’s resist those changes and fight us every step of the way until the inevitable backslide that the vast majority see. Basically, she’s a liar, which is why she stands apart. That being said, I would LOVE to hear a dispatch from you on what she actually says at these events and would encourage you to sneak a tape recorder in so you can send it to me and I can make a transcript of it. 😀


    • The Real Cie permalink
      March 8, 2013 7:22 pm

      I tend to laugh at fat jokes when they’re made by comedians like Louie Anderson, who is fat himself, or the hefty Latino guy (forget his name, isn’t George Lopez or Carlos Mencia) who made a hilarious joke about fat guys on a roller coaster. But this joke wasn’t meant in a mean spirit, it was a laughing at ourselves kind of joke.
      I like Henry Rollins overall, though I’m dismayed at his “won’t date fat women” remark. But like you, I’d never put him in the same class as the likes of Jillian. She may not in real life be the raving, mad cow that she appears to be on television. Still, she has created that persona and that is how she makes her living. I have no respect for her or what she does, which is done in a mean and spiteful spirit.

      • John-n-Kate permalink
        March 13, 2013 7:07 am

        Gabriel Iglesias?

        • The Real Cie permalink
          March 14, 2013 2:27 pm

          Yeah, I think so!

  2. vesta44 permalink
    March 7, 2013 11:17 am

    Wasn’t there an article not too long ago about that weight loss supplement/diet whatever-the-fuck it is that she was shilling? Something about it being dangerous? Oh yeah, the pills contain “potentially lethal” doses of citrus aurantium. Also known as Bitter Orange or synephrine, it is the “chemical cousin” of ephedra. Ephedra is now an illegal substance. Ephedra came under heavy fire because a percentage of people who took it would die suddenly from a heart attack. She also said that people could just take those pills and lose weight, a far cry from her pushing “exercise for hours a day, push through the pain, work out in spite of injuries” spiel. People are suing her over that shit (I hope they win and she loses so big that she goes broke). So yeah, I’ve got nothing for the woman, and think she needs to just STFU and go away, like fifteen years ago.

    • The Real Cie permalink
      March 8, 2013 7:24 pm

      I took Ephedra. I took synephrine. Got this substance from GNC once, about 10 years ago, that almost landed me in the ER. These days I couldn’t possibly take those things as I have hypertension and a tendency to heart palpitations (the palpitations are better since I started taking irbesartan) but I wonder how many people do in spite of problems like hypertension, all in the name of losing weight.

  3. March 7, 2013 11:47 am

    I am very, very, very happy that I’ve made it this far in my life without knowing until now who in the bloody flipping hell Jilliam Michaels is. (I do video on demand, Utube, etc. online, but I killed off my television years ago. Best decision I ever made.)

  4. violetyoshi permalink
    March 7, 2013 12:34 pm

    Just wait for people to post YouTubes of the event.

  5. Duckie permalink
    March 7, 2013 12:59 pm

    I wish there was a way to see the presentation without actually giving her money. Maybe someone could get a press pass, or a temporary job/ volunteer at a venue…with controversial speakers, there should be a certain number of seats saved for people who are kind of “conscientious objectors” or “her majesty’s loyal opposition.”…critical feedback can only make us better, right?….though i wouldn’t expect the likes of Jillian to understand that concept.

  6. JeninCanada permalink
    March 7, 2013 11:21 pm

    ” if you are the kind of person who writes off anyone who offends you, there are safe alternatives out there for you.”
    ” I don’t think it’s realistic to expect comedians to stop doing making fat jokes or any other offensive jokes for that matter.”

    For me it’s not about offense. I don’t give a flying fuck is someone is offended by something I do or say. What I care about is harm. Fat jokes, and other humour that relies on lazy stereotyping, can genuinely be hurtful, and that’s where I’m at. I think it’s completely OK to tell comedians and others to knock it the hell off with making a living on the backs of other’s misery. Misogyny and misandry, rape jokes, fat jokes, racist jokes, etc are all lazy and hurtful and need to go away. I expect better.

    • March 8, 2013 9:42 am

      My point was not to say that we shouldn’t call out inappropriate jokes, but to save our outrage for the worst offenders. Lindy West had the best explanation of how this works, particularly with regard to rape jokes. And one of the links I posted to included a video from an MST that is full of fat jokes that are based on stereotypes, but they still make me laugh in spite of myself, and I wouldn’t demand that they stop making them. I think we should be on guard for people who take those jokes too far and whose intentions are clearly harmful, but if we protest ALL fat jokes, we run the risk of desensitizing people to the idea that there’s a spectrum of acceptability out there. If your goal is to stop comedians from making offensive jokes, then you’re only going to encourage them to be even more hurtful anyway, since most of them are pushing your buttons intentionally. Pick your battles.


  7. JennyRose permalink
    March 8, 2013 1:38 pm

    I think it is generally a good idea to have information on what you are criticizing. The last time a group of do-gooders tried to stop certain literature from being used in the local HS, the do-gooder in charge was asked if she had ever read the book. Her response was no, but that she had seen certain paragraphs and that was enough to know. She said she wouldn’t eat a cookie, no matter how delicious, if she saw a roach on it and that was why she would not read the book she wanted banned.

    You dufmanno, have already read the book so to speak. You know Michael’s scktick and you know what she will likely say. I think you have enough knowledge on the subject to skip the liver performance. Still, if you want to go, I am sure you will learn even more so it is your money and your choice.

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