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Don’t Be Cruel

Oct
31
2007

We were all sitting around the other day discussing how there just isn’t enough cruelty on television these days. Oh, not the teeth-gritting, shiver-inducing violent kind of cruelty, because there is more than enough of that. I mean the nasty, make-em-squirm-in-their-seat kind of cruelty that can easily be translated to the workplace or, better, the school playground. You know – the kind of cruelty that a kid can really embrace and use as a foundation of self-hate and distrust.

So it’s refreshing that “advocacy” groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have come down on the federal government’s public service ads as being too tame in light of the “obesity epidemic” (I put this in quotes since the powers declaring what constitutes obesity receive funding directly from companies who sell the “cures”) that is running rampant among Americans, specifically, American children. The two groups are on the job with providing just the ammunition tools needed to help the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services make sure that anyone with a weight problem is put in his place and reminded that he is ugly and everyone hates him. Because, you know, fat people won’t know these things unless they are told on a regular basis; you know, other than every magazine spread, jerk on the street, airline seat, Bowflex commercial and skeletal actress lamenting her pregnancy fat.

PCRM – a doctor’s group that promotes a vegan diet – has already run a few ads. In one, a group of what we assume to be doctors makes an emergency call to a suburban home. Carrying boxes of fruits and vegetables, they rush into the house where they ask the mother, “Where’s the problem?”

“Thank God you’re here,” she answers and points at her heavy-set son in the kitchen scarfing down an entire pizza like he’s Henry VIII (way to show sensitivity!). “In there.”

They remove the pizza box and hand the kid an apple.

Innocuous enough…until you realize a grown woman is sitting there powerlessly watching her son, which she views as “The Problem.” Not his eating habits, not her inability to sit down to a meal with her son or cook for him in the first place, nor the fact that she’s probably the one who bought the pizza in the first place. No. The child is The Problem.

In their zeal to push veganism down our throats, PCRM has inadvertently revealed the real reason for childhood obesity and, as in most cases of obesity, it has nothing to do with diet.

Got that? Let me reiterate, just in case you didn’t hear me before. It’s not the food.

If this is their solution to obesity, what’s their solution for anorexia? The team of doctors rushes in and starts screaming “JUST EAT SOMETHING?” Or send in some deranged clown to tell a depressed person to “look on the bright side of things!”

Now, I can understand the need to make controversial statements to garner support for your nonprofit (Or, in the words of Mel Brooks: “Gentlemen, we must protect our phony baloney jobs!”) since it gets your press release in the Associated Press queue. It’s vague which organization laments that the government’s ads don’t include a dramatization of a death from type 2 diabetes or address the issue of how obesity causes everyone else’s health insurance to go up. In the absence of accreditation, I assume those to be the brainchildren of Associated Press medical writer Mike Stobbe, the author of the article.

But you really have to wonder about the real motive for such commercials. The effectiveness of any public service ad, whether about obesity or drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, is questionable. The only result of such a vindictive campaign is giving the okay to insult fat people (or people who smoke, people who drink alcohol), without regard for feelings, condemning us all to a South Park existence, where you can say anything about anybody as long as it’s in a funny voice and still receive an Emmy from people who claim to corner the market in humanitarian causes.

If fat people are driving up the cost of insurance, so are the type A personalities with their stress-related diseases, the hypochondriacs and their constant visits to the doctor, tan people with their skin cancer, not-so-tan people who don’t wear sunscreen every time they walk out the door, people who don’t drink red wine, women who do drink red wine. . . because the problem isn’t the health care system, it’s all these sick people paying for it who have the nerve to actually use it.

And let’s face it, for every group of people we find fault with, the better we can feel about ourselves. Unless, of course, our own faults become more visible. . .

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 11:49 AM | Permalink

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