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Enslaved to SuperMuse
There's a reason why her initials are S and M ...
Yeah. I can't go silent about this one. 
14th-May-2009 11:43 am
Adama--Bring It
One of my flisters (thank you sjwashere) made a thought-provoking post about a controversy that recently happened concerning an Australian show about advertising called The Gruen Transfer. One segment of the show, called "The Pitch", challenges two different advertising agencies to come up with an ad based on a "difficult sell" concept. Donating money to super-wealthy CEOs, keeping Cane Toads as pets, living next to a nuclear reactor ... that sort of thing. Oftentimes the results are silly; sometimes they are serious.

This week, the two agencies were asked to come up with ads selling the idea of "Fat Pride", addressing shape discrimination in Australia. The government-funded ABC network that runs The Gruen Transfer deemed one of the resulting two ads acceptable to be shown to the viewing public. The other was declared "a breach of ABC Editorial Policy" and denied a chance to be broadcast, though they did consent for it to be placed on a separate website with an explanation and content disclaimers to facilitate discussion and debate.

You can see the first ad here. It presents the concept that fat people are helping Australia's economy by consuming more goods and resources.

The second ad does contain ugly, discriminatory jokes about race, homosexuality and religion as well as body size. You can watch it here. ETA: I forgot to mention that this video also includes a debate and discussion on the reasoning behind the ad, including explanations from the ad's creator.

For any of you who do not already know, I am (as medical professionals delight in writing on my charts) "morbidly obese". After watching both ads, I left the following three comments on antiprejudicead.net:

Hm. One ad seeks to address bigotry against fat people by blatantly and yes, uncomfortably comparing it to other forms of prejudice and showing it to be just as ugly. The other seeks to address it ... by making yet another Fat Joke.

And yet it was the Fat Joke ad that ABC deemed acceptable to be shown to the viewing public.

Does anyone else see the problem here? Or at the very least, the incongruity?


I do have to wonder if the people who were shocked and offended at the Foundry's ad were actually thinking "how dare you show me these racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic jokes!" or were they really thinking "how dare you compare attitudes about fat people to racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism!"

Nobody enjoys having their prejudices pointed out to them. But bigoted attitudes don't change until people are yanked out of being comfortable with their old way of thinking.


You know what, folks? Let's even take a step back from the resulting ads for a moment. TGT chose to group addressing anti-fat bigotry in with such joke "causes" as donating money to super-wealthy CEOs, living next to a nuclear reactor and the merits of cosmetic surgery for the under 10s. That decision was in and of itself bigoted and offensive.

So. Obviously I've made my take on this subject fairly clear. Feel free to comment, discuss and express your opinions whether they agree with mine or not.
14th-May-2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
I have had issues with weight all of my life and if I saw that first ad on television, I would be extremely offended. You don't end discrimination with more joking at the party's expense - you end it by showing the world how ugly it really is.

The second ad was a clearer view of the issue, it showed people just how awful it can be. Just because I'm fat doesn't mean it's okay to make fun of me just like it's not okay to make fun of skinny people, people that you think aren't attractive, people of another race, creed, sexuality - anything.

This probably doesn't make sense but I'm sleepy, drugged and angry. o_o
14th-May-2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
*huggles* Ragey posts seem to be all the ... rage. (sorry) And you made perfect sense to me, hon.
(Deleted comment)
14th-May-2009 08:09 pm (UTC)
I personally think the concept of Fat Pride is as ridiculous as being Pro-Anorexia, it's a condition the severely affects your health in a number of ways. It's something to be controlled and dealt with compassionately.

The above, is of course, a gross over-simplification of the problem.

So basically, I agree with you that it was absurd and insulting to include "Fat Pride" on the show in the first place. (The whole show sounds fairly insulting to begin with)What's next? Vacation destinations in Darfur?
14th-May-2009 08:42 pm (UTC)
First it is possible to be overweight and still be healthy... though it is rare.

That said, I agree with you to some degree, however I belive that the problems created by those who mistreat those who are overweight far outweigh any damage that might come about from something like Fat Pride.

You have to love yourself to make a change like weight loss...
You have to belive enough in yourself to make that change.

All that allowing prejudice and mistreatment of the overweight accomplishes is the further destruction and detirioration of their ability to do either.

If we want to create a healthier country, we have to start by being kinder to each other and improving the way we treat one another. If you have a relative that is overweight, don't tease them about being "as big as a barn" in hopes of shaming them into weight loss... instead offer to go walking with them, and tell them how much you enjoy spending time with them, show them and tell them that they are still worth something to you, that will bild their self esteem and allow them to better make the right steps to improve their health.

Of course I'm simplafying a bit, but the process and the concepts behind it are sound.
14th-May-2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
Right now I'm really wishing I didn't lose half my words when I am in a raging fury, because I'm sure if I didn't I would find SO MUCH to say about this fuckery. Instead I fume, quietly and hotly, and deliver you a hug.

Seriously, this is bullshit. How do people still think like that in the 21st century?
14th-May-2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
I haven't been able to watch the ads yet since I'm at work, but I absolutely agree that bigotry and offensive "humor" is not okay, no matter what group it's directed towards, and it's absurd that fat people are somehow "okay" to make fun of when other groups are not.

Er, and... I also have a comment/question that I'm not sure whether or not is insulting or insensitive, so if it is please please please ignore/delete/let me know and I'll delete it...

Basically, I have a difficult time with the idea of "fat pride", and of equating prejudice towards overweight people with racism and homophobia. One of the reasons racism and homophobia (as opposed to, say, making fun of valley girls) are particularly horrifying is because people can't change their race or sexual orientation. As far as I know, almost everybody can change their weight to some degree.

So I guess my question is, where's the line between supporting people in being who they are, and not condoning a serious health risk? Is it accurate to view obesity as similar to, say, being a chain smoker?
14th-May-2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
First, the assumption that everyone can change their weight conposition overlooks the reality of medical conditions that sometimes make weight loss impossible, and weight gain inevitable.

Second, for those who can make that change it's not as simple as saying "just do it", if it was then more people would do it, and more then 5% of those who do it, would keep it off. Most people don't get fat by choice, and as long as we focus on the physical aspects and ignore the mental and emotional reality of how they got that way it's not going to get better.

I see obesity (at least the variety not created by medical illness) as being an outward manifestation of a mental dis-ease. Is it ok to make fun of those with other mental diseases just because it's "in their head"?

All of that said - I hate the attempt to compare obesity with chain smoking... the last time I looked I couldn't kill you by standing next to you eating a cheeseburger.
14th-May-2009 09:56 pm (UTC)

Took me a while to understand exactly what they were supposed to be doing--to end discrimination or to promote "Fat Pride," and given that I hadn't seen the show before, I wasn't sure if the ads were supposed to be taken seriously or not. So it took me a few minutes to process this. Then I realized that the task was supposed to be difficult, as they want to "sell the unsellable," and remembering that made me appreciate the difficulty of the task.

At any rate, I'm not offended by these ads or the task that was given, because I had a little epiphany. Before I even watched the ads, as I read the info you posted and linked to, the thought came to me that attitudes toward body weight differ across the world and throughout time. And in that moment, I began to make peace with it. So for that little epiphany, I thank you. :)
14th-May-2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
attitudes toward body weight differ across the world and throughout time.

Oh yes. I would have been considered sex on legs during the Renaissance Period. Whereas even Marilyn Monroe would likely get told to go lose some weight if she tried to break into showbiz nowadays.

That the concept of it's not right to deride or demean someone based on nothing more than their outside appearance could actually be considered unsellable ... that is what made me grind my teeth the hardest.

15th-May-2009 01:22 am (UTC)
Huh. The first ad seemed like it was intentionally a spoof to me. It doesn't seem like it would be effective at all if the point is to stop discrimination against overweight people. The second ad was intensely uncomfortable (although I confess I didn't get a couple of the comments), but I felt it was a LOT more effective for drawing attention to the parallels between various forms of racism.

I don't know how people who are prejudiced against overweight people think, but I wonder if they latch onto simply the physical appearance but it is really a personality conflict, and then they think in their heads that all heavy people are like that. I don't know if that was even coherent at all. Like, if someone doesn't like a person because they think they're stupid and lazy, for example, and the person they dislike just also happens to be overweight, maybe they conflate that person with all overweight people. I can see how it could happen--my stepdad has a couple people in his family who are overweight, and it happens that I can't stand them because of their personalities. Their weight has nothing to do with my dislike of them. But maybe some people in a similar situation wouldn't be able to separate the physical appearance of a person from the personality they don't like.

Is the "Fat Pride" thing for real? I've never heard of that before. I think it's a good thing for people to like themselves as they are, but I think, too, that health should be a priority as well, whether skinny or fat. I know that not all overweight people are unhealthy, and certainly not everyone can lose weight just becuase they want to. My best friend is extremely overweight, and I see how she tries so hard to lose weight and just can't. She has a hormone imbalance that made her gain a ton of weight in college. She used to run cross country and could kick my ass no problem. She's so smart and funny and pretty, and all she sees is a fat girl, and it makes me mad that so many people (her own mom included) reinforce that image in her mind.
15th-May-2009 04:58 am (UTC)
Since The Pitch usually requests ads for things that are fairly silly (see cane toads as pets), many of the resulting ads do wind up on the spoofy side, or so I'm given to understand. So the people who made the first request probably decided to take the brief as just one more in a series of jokes. Which ... yeah. But The Foundry obviously took it more seriously.

Entirely possible. Like any other kind of bigotry, people take certain characteristics and associate them with a given physical characteristic, which allows them to make snap judgments without the actual effort of thinking. All fat people are lazy, slothful, gluttonous, jolly, etc. And they generally don't like anything that shows them that their comfortable assumptions have no basis in reality.

"Fat Pride" is real for some people. I think in this case the show used the phrase to add an extra dose of silliness to something that really shouldn't have been portrayed as silly. I myself don't want any special treatment because of my weight, either positive or negative. Yes, health is a good priority to have, but no one ever responds well to efforts to shame them into better health habits.

Bottom line, waaaaaaay back when fat, sugar and salt were rare in humanity's diet, evolution gave a large chunk of the population cravings for these things. Evolution also gave us metabolisms that do their damnedest to hold onto fat reserves in order to have something to survive on during times of famine. These things were survival mechanisms then, and the fact that we now have access to more fat, sugar and salt than is necessarily healthy for us doesn't just turn off all that evolution in those people who manifest those traits most strongly. It's a battle against biology.
15th-May-2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
I have to say, I'm so glad they didn't air the second one. I get what they were trying to do, but making black, gay and Jewish people listen to horribly nasty comments about themselves is an insensitive way of going about it. I agreed with the panelist who said that if this had aired, these "jokes" would probably be told in pubs more, not less.

The first one was offensive, even more so if the text on the website (about ending shape discrimination, the humiliation that large people face, etc.) was really the brief that was presented to the ad agency. Because what they did was the exact opposite -- they added to the humiliation and discrimination.
15th-May-2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Both ads had their problems, most definitely. But yes, it was the second one that actually answered the brief, however sledgehammer it was. My main point of ire is that these ad people apparently didn't see the first one as offensive at all.
15th-May-2009 06:06 pm (UTC) - META


You post a post that is bound to aspire discussion instead of withdrawing.

You respond to responses in long engaging answers.

You seem more extroverted and enjoying than I remember you for the past 1.5/2 years.

Is it just my suggestion, or are you feeling more like your old self these days?

15th-May-2009 09:47 pm (UTC) - Re: META
Heh. Pushing myself a bit harder to get there maybe. Or maybe it just took a sufficiency of anger to push me. *sigh* I'm kinda tired now though.

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