Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Let's Get the Fat Bastards

The Diet Doctors, a stupendously unpleasant show on Channel 5 last night, involved two nasty thin women humiliating a very unhappy fat woman. It was disgusting, inhumane and pointless - nobody, including, I bet, the woman in question, will get thinner or healthier as a result. Modern life gives us lots of food and then lots of medicine to treat the effects. The rational reponse is that of Dr Kelso in Scrubs, whose perfect meal is a 16 ounce steak and a fistful of blood thinners. This fat thing just won't go away. Britain, it transpires, is the fattest nation in Europe. We are catching up with the Americans, whose serene obesity I always regarded as one of that great nation's finest tourist attractions. Andrew O'Hagan gets fantastically worked up about the fat Brits, demanding taxes on junk food. He is especially disgusted by the Rotherham mothers who shoved fat sweet things to their children through the school fence - see my earlier post. He concludes, 'Obesity is a refusal of life, or, more horrifyingly, an acceptance of the kind of life that puts an end to life. It is shocking to think that Britain is now at the head of the nihilists' league, chomping McDonald's in the places where we once dug for victory.' Steady on. ALL kinds of life put an end to life. Furthermore, the drive to eat fat, sugary things - presumably evolved in conditions of scarcity in the African savanna - might more accurately be seen as a joyous cry of 'Yes!' to life than a refusal. Also we dug for victory to get freedom, peace and plenty. If we can't handle them - and we can't - then plainly we don't need diets, we need wars. Obviously we should go for Kim Jong-il. He's a fat bastard after all.

10 comments:

  1. I can't help but feel queasy about the way Andrew O'Hagan views this as a class issue. Like Jamie Oliver he doesn't seem to grasp that if you insult people they are likely to order another double cheeseburger just to spite you.

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  2. But I love this subject in the media and government. Neither can achieve anything as their ideas are both ignorant of people and stupid in execution.

    Tellling people not to be fat..may as well tell them not to smoke...not to drink and all the other things they bang on pointlessly about.

    Moreover it does a a good serive, god forbid they concentrate their limited powers on something they could actually effect.

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  3. Some people seem to be under the impression that if you ake care of yourself and deprive yourself of all the fun things that you will live forever. Well here's a shocker... 100 years from now we will all be dead. Why not enjoy a nice steak and a beer before you go.

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  4. Agreed, Simon. Quite, City. And, Tom, just so. I me calorie restrictionists while working on my book How to Live Forever. They eat about two thirds of the normal calorie intake on the basis that animal experiments suggest this will lengthen your life. They looked thin and neurotic.

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  5. This issue exposes the British (and the Americans) at their most incoherent and shows them to have a terrible problem associating pleasure with self-harm. Eating rubbish food - and it is rubbish that makes you fat - has nothing to do with affluence and a good deal to do with the exploitation of ignorance and poverty by 'food' manufacturers. It costs money to eat well. Eating steak will not make you fat - eating steak and chips followed by sweet sugary empty calories washed down by diet coke, will. One of the slimmest nations in Europe, the French, eats more calories daily than the English, but they eat them in the form of protein and vegetables and salads. Whereas the English and, a fortiori, the Americans eat them in the form of sweet things and refined carbohydrates combined with whatever protein they do eat.
    Look at photographs of people in England before the war - of all classes - there isn't a fat one among them and yet they ate more protein and fat than most people ever see in this country today. You don'y have to starve yourself to be healthy, but you do have to develop grown up eating habits, rather than the childish, naughty but nice, attitude of the British, which I think has its origins in a deep ambivalence towards the things of the body - a mistrust of real pleasure and a heretical belief that carnal pleasure is sinful, so when you take it you must suffer as a result.

    This notion of the separation of the body and the soul received official recognition at the Reformation and is at the heart of our obesity problem. Is it a coincidence that the fattest nations are also the most Protestant: Dutch, German (some of them) American, British?

    Finally the percieved solution of humiliating and hectoring is also typically Protestant and the reverse of the same coin that got us into it in the first place. As you say Bryan, war might be the only answer because that's what we do - what a strange nation we are.

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  6. The extreme reaction to this problem is driven by puritanism. It's a force, now bereft of its original religious impulse, which has driven much of our historical success but has now turned in on itself and is likely to destroy us.

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  7. Tom Paine, absolutely right about this, although I didn't agree with your 'rights of man' fallacy, upon which the USA was founded and much wickedness has been justified in the last two hundred years. Puritanism is certainly destroying the ordinary people in Britain and America and in any country which is their current victim. But why is this happening? And where will it end?

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  8. Will it end with a lot of fat people watching shit tv about fat people watching shit tv?

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  9. Not so sure though about the puritanism....maybe in a twisted form. Could tabloid culture be interpreted as a kind of pathetic, grinning triumph over puritanism's restraints? We also have the silent revolution of Rupert Murdoch managing to beam porn into millions of family homes. The mind body split all very interseting here but I don't think I'd say puritanism is the enemy here. Getting an image of that Goya painting of the collosus over a battlefield, except perhaps now we could replace the menacing giant with some kind of immense tv screen with I dunno...a Ronald MacDonald figure leering at the helpless victims beneath, rapt in hypnotic and helpless awe. Is all this confusion of the masses intentional or accidental?

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  10. as an American, I have to say, the serene obesity line was the funniest thing I heard today. Still, it's not just Western
    Civ that is catching up to the US, the world in general thanks to the"food products" industry is generally on a physical decline. Good thing for me, I always liked fat chicks.

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