Friday, January 21, 2011

I Appeared in a Play on Saturday Night

The below post is written by Jonny Potts, the actor who played the 'morbidly obese' Galen Widders in the play No Taste Forever by Paul Rothwell, currently playing at BATS Theatre. I wrote about the big fat related problems that I had with the show here and this is Jonny's response. Even though I don't agree some of the stuff he is saying, I still think it is pretty cool that he has written this and wants to further the discussion around the show. I think the comments could be a really good place to keep the discussion going. So good, in fact, that I am probably going to write one.

I appeared in a play on Saturday night. This is nothing new, of course, because I am GETTING OLD though intermittently FRESH and FREE-ISH if not as CREATIVE as I should be. I like to spend my time in the capital city sitting in cafes drinking beer and coffee and going to artistic events and immersing myself in CULTURE. The play was called No Taste Forever!. It was written by Paul Rothwell and it was performed at BATS Theatre and Ally had major problems with it. I am now going to write about it.

The first thing I would like to say is that I appreciate how Ally has gone about expressing her feelings about No Taste Forever!. She has not railed against the lot of us for putting the thing on, and in fact praised elements of the production. She's been kind to me in particular. It's easy, when something rubs you up the wrong way, to dismiss the kit along with the kaboodle, and I would like to acknowledge her even-handedness in dealing with an emotive issue. And look, she's giving me the space on her own blog to throw in my two cents. I appreciate the opportunity to post here a great deal, as I was at the centre of an experience which left her feeling so disappointed in another space where she felt at home. So, thanks for the trust, Ally. I am going to disagree with you over some things, and I am going to defend the play. Of course, I'm too close to the show to offer an objective take on it, so I am not going to address whether or not the production is worth anyone's time or money. Having said that, y'all should come down to BATS and see it, because it's not going to get a DVD release.

I apologise if this response seems scattershot. I had to write it in snatched moments between work, play-acting and the little extramural eating I am doing over these couple of weeks. I really hope that in my haste I have not said anything which offends. I am aware that some may consider defence of a production which features a fat suit an indication of the systemic marginalisation of fat people which Ally cites in her post. I do not want to be seen as someone siding with the people responsible for this or this or this. So let me denounce all that shit right now, and acknowledge unequivocally that there is indeed a problem with the way bodies are presented in the wider media, and it causes real damage to people. I am not comfortable that something I am doing is being seen as a continuation of this prejudice. I am not active in the fat acceptance movement, nor very familiar with its history or goals, but from the little I have read I find myself in agreement with its principles. I do feel a bit out of my depth posting on a blog which is read by people with more knowledge of the field. So, if you consider my arguments to be naive or wrongheaded, please point that out, dear reader. I have no desire to have the last word on the matter.

OK, I'm going to take a look at some of the points raised by Ally. I suppose I should SPOILER WARNING this.

Though he can be an insufferable blowhard, I am with critic Robert Hughes on this: the role of art is not solely to enlighten. Art's primary function is not to change society for the better. Peter Brook's Manifesto for the Sixties contends that 'no work of art has yet made a better man'. I am not saying that it is impossible for art to have a positive effect on the world or individuals, but art need not always do good.

Mention was made in Ally's post of the predictable roles for females in No Taste Forever! I was surprised to read that 'dead child' is now considered a predictable, 'yawn'-inducing role for women to play. Then there are the 'lesbians'. The two lesbian characters in No Taste Forever! are lesbians and... well, that's that. Their sexuality is not an issue in the play, merely present. It certainly does not serve to titillate the audience, nor does the play encourage condemnation. But let's consider the representation of men also. A husband and father so consumed by his profession that he neglects his wife and son. A psychopath. An arrogant cock. Yawn? Perhaps. We are dealing with types here, not realistic, fully rounded characters. The types stand in for various issues the play raises, much the way things worked in MINGE, where the type identification was taken a step further. In this play, as in most of Rothwell's work, NOBODY comes off looking good. He's an equal opportunity annoyer. With Rothwell, you get an awful lot of agitation, but not much propaganda. His plays angry up the blood and refuse to ease the mind.

At the end of NTF!, Malcom's magical pill is just an idea without form, an ideal which seeks to deal with a problem by eliminating it entirely. John Smythe's review raised problems with the pill solution, and was right to. I mean, it wouldn't work and people wouldn't want it. Rothwell isn't seriously suggesting we find a pill to replace all food. he is presenting a character so overwhelmed by food that it's the only way out of the whole mess he can see. Hate Crimes and The Blackening also end with characters essentially throwing their hands in the air. All three endings hint as hope, but are largely resigned to helplessness. The problems are just too big, and too much blood has been shed. NTF! is the first time Rothwell has had a play end with the hope/hopelessness cocktail being presented to so many.

Ally writes that NTF! was 'a play that demonised food and that vituperated the audience about their eating habits'. Yep, it surely demonised food, and it dealt abrasively with various attitudes towards food. Food is presented as an antagonistic force and nobody has a healthy relationship towards it. NTF! plays on people's fears about not just obesity, but allergy, eating disorders, manners, ethics, medication and sundry other related issues not by exploringthem as such, but by having them collide into each other inside a dramatic framework. Rothwell does not want to solve anything. He wants to scare you.Ally writes, '[m]ostly, my problem is that in a play about food and food issues, the crying and the KFC were the only depiction of fatness, thus rendering fat as a problem that needs to be solved'. She is right to say that Galen is the only representation of 'fatness', but it is an extreme form of 'fatness': a man who is one chocolate thin away from death. His problem needs to be solved, or it is going to kill him. And the problem is not that he is merely fat, it is that he is supremely unhealthy. Again, EVERYONE in this play comes out bad. EVERYONE has a 'problem that needs to be solved', and nobody can solve any of them. It's not a nice play and it is not supposed to make anyone feel proud of anything. If there was a representation of fatness on stage and there wasno problem attached to it, it would seriously fuck with the dramaturgy. In NTF! anything to do with food is problematic.

Fatness isn't inherently funny, no, though many fat performers have given us lots to laugh at over the years , often using their size as an integral part of their act. There is a cultural familiarity with the jolly fat man. However, Galen does not really fit this, he is more of a sad clown. In playing the part, I do try to elicit some sympathy from the audience, not just have them laugh at the fat man. When I was talking with director David Lawrence about the play a few months ago, I said I would be keen to play Galen (I read the part at the play's first airing in 2008), and pointed out that there is really nobody big enough to play him. Even if we had used a very fat actor, the actor would not have been fat enough. If he was fat enough, he probably would not have had the ability to play the part. Galen is not merely fat, he is so fat he is on the verge on death. If a fat actor should have been employed, which one?

The crux of Ally's post, as I read it, is that this is the straw that broke the camel's back. After being exposed to many negative depictions of fat people in the wider media, here was one in the place she felt at home, and it made her uncomfortable in her own skin. Am I able to say that I respect both Ally's reaction and the rights of Paul Rothwell to write what he did? I am not a fat activist, but I think the world might need them. I am not a controversial though celebrated playwright but I think the world might need them too. To quote an Assange-themed cartoon posted elsewhere on Ally's blog, 'See how I can think both things without my head exploding?'

I would also like to point out that there are actually very few 'fat jokes' per se in the script. Something that might qualify is this exchange, in KFC:

GALEN: Come here often?

PETRUS: What? No.

GALEN: Me either.

PETRUS: You look as if you have.

It's worth noting here that the character of Petrus, a former chef whose taste buds have been ravaged by an surfeit of marching powder, is a dick. He's a nasty, nasty fuckhead and the playwright has him killed in the final scene. I don't think anyone mourns his death. The scene in question shows a character we know to be mean and destructive taking a cursory glance at Galen and judging him for his size. He then snubs him, precipitating the crying-into-the-chicken moment to which Ally took exception. The way I read the scene, we are supposed to feel sympathy for Galen as he is being judged unfairly at face value. He is socially inept largely because when he tries to connect people can't see past his size. This is a pretty tragic way to live your life, and a phenomenon with which I would imagine those in the fat acceptance movement are familiar. When Galen cries it is not supposed to make the audience laugh, and it doesn't. It is the moment in performance when I feel most connected to the audience, despite the fact my head is buried in my hands. The injustice is up there on stage. It is then compounded by a further humiliation. It is tough to watch because the audience actually cares about Galen.

I do think it does the play a disservice to equate the fat character with the laugh-at-me-I'm fat types portrayed by Eddie Murphy. Having discussed the KFC scene, I'd like to shed a little more light on the other scenes Ally mentions early in her post, not to deny that they happen or are uncomfortable to watch, just to give them their proper context:

'[T}he same fat man, whimpering in the foetal position, lying on the floor in a nest of junk food wrappers' - This is a murder attempt by food, which we learn later in the play is attempting to enslave the human race. Galen says that the food 'won't let me stop stuffing it in'. He is in a victim of, as the marketing material has it, 'an insidious force'.

'[H]e carries with him a bag of sweets, a bag that eventually explodes because it is so jam packed with candy' The bag does not explode because it is overstuffed with candy, the candy jumps out as part of its evil plan to knock Galen off. Yes, food is demonised.

'[T]he fat man being so socially inept that all he does at a birthday party AND at a food festival is eat, continuously and voraciously?' The food festival first. Galen makes his way to the festival, resolves to abstain from eating and is then overtaken by the 'insidious force' which hisses 'DIE WITH US! DIE WITH US!' at him before he is overtaken once again. Galen is present at the birthday party because he is trying to escape the force in his fridge. When he arrives at what he hopes will be sanctuary he is overtaken by the force again. This has nothing to do with him being 'socially inept'. He's kind of like Karras in The Exorcist, targeted by an evil, supernatural force. Unlike Karras though, there is still some hope for Galen at the conclusion of NTF!

Galen is not standing in for every fat person. He is so unhealthy he is nearly dead. There are examples elsewhere in the play of characters who do not eat enough and suffer the consequences. Rothwell has taken fears about food and given them form. The play is fantasy. The idea of food operating as some kind of hive-minded supervillain is really quite silly. It is not healthy to demonise food in life, but there is nothing wrong with satirising that rather widespread tendency in a play. And that is really what this is at the end of the day: a satire on our preoccupation with food.

People bring their own experiences and opinions into the theatre with them. Anyone with a strong or particular experience or interest in obesity, bulimia, allergy, anorexia, comfort eating, organics, body image or, for that matter, children who have been run over and killed is going to have a keen reaction to various parts of the play. The play certainly challenges the notion that 'every body is a good body'. Is Daryl's body, which is mathematically fed and exercised, really healthy? What about Fliss, who eats every second day and subsists on Lucozade and multi-vitamins until she gets 'the faints'? Sonya is convinced she is growing a tumour due to her ingesting fertiliser so only eats oragnic food. Petrus has no sense of taste. Baby Emma's delicate frame is crushed. And food has pushed Galen's body to the brink of expiration. Health of bodies and body image are themes in this satire, and the plays joins a long tradition of art which plays on fears we have about our bodies being beyond our control.

There is a play to be written about acceptance of bodies in all forms, but this isn't it. What this play does, among other things, is draw attention to prejudice and fear around the way people view bodies.

I'd like to thank Ally again for giving me the platform to talk about how something I'm doing on stage has affected and could affect people. It's not often an interest is taken to such an extent in anything we do at places like BATS, and Paul certainly wanted to get people talking about the issues raised by the play, even if those issues are in fact the ones he can be seen to have neglected. The thing about Ally's post which I found most unsettling was the idea that Ally did not consider BATS her place any more as a result of a part I played. There is no reason that one play should have any effect on how anyone sees the venue. BATS is still Ally's, but it is also Paul's and David's and mine. It was not the intention of this production to vilify fat people. In rehearsal Galen was never held up as a figure of fun, and the playwright is quoted in the Capital Times expressing affinity with him. I hope those who found the play unsettling will find something of value in the wider discussion.

[Image credit: Photo taken by Vanessa Fowler Kendall, and sourced from the Bachanals Facebook page.]


  1. Hi Jonny! Thanks for writing some things on my blog, and taking the time and consideration to do so. It’s pretty awesome. I also love seeing all of the processes that have been going on inside your actor brain for Galen. It is cool. I want to respond to some bits and because it is Saturday morning and I’m really tired I’m going to do this in bullet points.

    - Yes, art does not always have to ‘do good’. But what if, on the whole, depictions of fat people are actually ‘doing bad’? Because, like I said in my post, I think en masse depictions of fat people as having no self control and being socially inept and as a target for ridicule are actually damaging. But then again, I am also in the ‘theatre for social change’ camp along with a whole lot of other soy milk drinking hippies.

    - I think that perhaps your take on the ‘ever body is a good body’ mantra possibly might be a little skewed? You ask if Darryl’s mathematically fed and exercised body is healthy, and I would really like to emphasise that though ‘fat is NOT the same as unhealthy’ is a big part of the fat acceptance movement, being ‘healthy’ is not a qualifier for your body being good. Health is a privilege, and one that the sick and the disabled do not have. ‘Every body is a good body’ is more about every single body that exists deserving respect and nurture no matter what it looks like/how healthy it is.

    - My yawn relating to the role of ‘dead child’ was more about ‘fridging’ (the killing off of female characters to advance the storyline of the male protagonist) and I would say that Baby Emma has definitely been fridged. This mightn’t seem like a problem on an individual basis, but this is also systemic throughout all mediums of storytelling. This article at Jezebel has some pretty good discussion of fridging in Christopher Nolan films.

    - Likewise, with the lesbian characters my problem was definitely not in relation to the ‘lesbians as sexual titillation’ trope (which you are right, this was absent from NTF) it was about the tropes of ‘unkempt lesbian’ and ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know lesbian’. Both Jean and Rose did a really good job of fleshing these characters out, but I would argue that as written, the characters fall into different ‘stereotypes of lesbians’ categories.

    - You are definitely right that Rothwell was working with types and stereotypes throughout the whole of the play. That was kinda it’s shtick. My piece was a fat acceptance critique of the show, but I also think that this could sit alongside a vegan critique, and a defence of the mentally ill critique, and a portrayal of eating disorders critique, and probably a comprehensive feminist critique and a whole lot of other things. Even though Galen was supposed to be a trope of fatness, when there are barely any representations of fatness on the stage ever, I think it is really important to critique that trope when it comes up.

    - You have described Rothwell as an equal opportunity annoyer and you are totes right. Like I just said, so many different critiques could be made of this play. But sometimes, equal opportunity annoyers really annoy me. Ha. There is something that really annoys me about putting a whole lot of irritating tropes out there, saying you want to get people talking, and then sitting back to watch. It reminds me of that Garland Grey quote "Privilege means you can walk away from the conversation whenever you like because the issues being raised aren’t important to you, and you can always imagine that the marginalized people you are walking away from don’t matter."

    - That is interesting about the bag of sweets! Perhaps I was being a bit dim, but I didn’t realise it was intended as the food attacking him. I read this moment as LOOK AT THIS BAD FAT MAN, OF COURSE HE IS THIS FAT BECAUSE HE EATS ALL THESE SWEETS.


  2. - You’re right, that Petrus is a nasty character and that does make a difference. Thank you for bringing that up. Does it make a difference though, that the audience that I was part of were laughing along with Petrus. I wish he had been vilified a bit more for his fat shaming. I love reading about the connection you feel with Galen and I think it is really important to know there was more heart and soul under some of those moments I criticised. I just wish that heart and soul had translated a little more to the audience, and perhaps this would have happened more in a less full/jumbled show? Perhaps the audience didn’t get to dwell on this for long enough?

    - I still think that jumping to a fat suit first, before trying to audition fat actors, is problematic. Maybe you can’t think of any really fat actors because they have never had an opportunity to be cast? Also, Galen is described as ‘morbidly obese’ and while this is being interpreted as SUPER INCREDIBLY HUGELY fat, like, on the BMI scale I am morbidly obese. Morbidly obese might not be as fat as you thinking?

    - I really want to emphasise that fatness is not Galen’s problem, it is his inability to stop eating and his relationship with food. You have written ‘Galen is not standing in for every fat person. He is so unhealthy he is nearly dead’ and ‘Even if we had used a very fat actor, the actor would not have been fat enough. If he was fat enough, he probably would not have had the ability to play the part. Galen is not merely fat, he is so fat he is on the verge on death’. And I think it is really important to keep thinking about ‘fat’ and ‘unhealthy’ being different things. I really, really, really wish another fat actor had been cast in the play, as Ms. Chocolate or as someone else, to make it clear that while Galen’s fatness causes him problems, fatness does not have to be that way. This is just my wish for the play. I really, really think that having just one more fat actor on stage would have significantly balanced the show for me.

    - BATS is most definitely yours and David’s and Pauls. And I know it is still mine. I think I’ll be there for the opening night of Broken China, in fact, and I can’t wait to see Diamond Dogs and Mothershock in Fringe. I think what I wrote about BATS was about the shock of thinking you are safe, and then having that rug pulled out from under your feet. Because as a fat person, there are a lot of spaces that I don’t feel safe. I feel nervous when I walk past groups of teenagers in case they call me a fat bitch. I feel nervous preparing my lunch in the kitchen at work, in case it is deemed to be ‘unhealthy’. So I guess being with that laughing audience, it felt horrible. It felt like I shouldn’t have let my guard down.

    Anyway, Jonny, you are great and you are great for writing your piece. I really appreciate the good faith it has taken for you to respond with such care and thoughtfulness. I wish you audiences that laugh in the right bits and that cry with you over the KFC and I hope there is enough of them that you make a little money out of Paul Rothwell. I think I will probably have to buy you a bakery treat for this one. xxx

    (Oh my gad, I can't believe I wrote a comment that was so huge and long it has to go in a separate box. Shame.)

  3. it is an extreme form of 'fatness': a man who is one chocolate thin away from death

    This quote just leapt out at me with a big red sign on its head that proclaimed "Not Getting The Point", along with:

    food has pushed Galen's body to the brink of expiration.

    The problem for me is that despite protestations that Galen isn't "just" fat, he's "unhealthy", his lack-of-health is conflated with his eating. Does the play show any other ways in which Galen is "unhealthy"? Because it seems that He Eats KFC While Crying and He Has Many Sweets are the two things which Ally found the most visible markers of Galen's "health".

    Where this becomes problematic is when we're talking about a character who, given only my reading of the two posts here, can only be one of two things.

    A. an incredibly shallow stereotype about fatties, who just eat and eat and eat because they're stupid and lazy and that's how we know they're unhealthy

    B. an slightly-less shallow stereotype of someone with serious, self-harming behaviours which *happen* to centre on food.

    If the former, I think Ally's initial response really hit the nail on the head. If the latter, I'm a little repulsed at someone (even a fictional character) being casually commented on as "one chocolate thin away from death" - a statement which pretty much buys into fatphobia and fat-hating culture and cultural myths about fatties hook, line and sinker - and simultaneously reinforces former option, which echoes the classic "why don't you fatties just put down the baby-flavoured donuts" stereotype.

    If Galen is unhealthy, if Galen is actually meant to be sick and bingeing or focussing on food because he is mentally or physically ill, it's not about putting down the Chocolate Thins, and it's not about food being the culprit. There's nothing new or revolutionary in that kind of attitude.

    How any of that is meant to "draw" the audience's attention to "fear and prejudice around bodies" is a little beyond me, I admit.

  4. Ideologically impure, I think I have an internet crush on you.

  5. Ally said many things I was thinking but I will add...

    "Galen is not standing in for every fat person. He is so unhealthy he is nearly dead."

    The problem with that is that there are many, many people out there that who truly think that ALL fat people are so unhealthy they are nearly dead. As such, the representation of this character will not "draw attention to prejudice and fear" but rather endorse it.

  6. Aw, thanks, Ally!

    Frances, that's a really good point. And any "news" story on the TV about "obesity", with its inevitable montage of headless fatties, completely bears it out. (I believe it's the doco Fat Head (albeit problematic in some respects) in which they do a headless-fattie montage and the presenter says "look, it took us FOUR HOURS in TWO LOCATIONS to get these shots!")

  7. Just because you can explain something doesn't mean it isn't offensive or damaging.

  8. So he's not 'fat' he's 'really, really, really fat and he's going to die because he's so fat' and that makes it all OK?

    Is he one apple away from death? Or is it just the bad chocolate that's responsible for putting him in an early grave?

    It always seems like people who defend fat-phobic and hateful material that is damaging and hurtful are saying 'not your kind of fat! I mean other types of fat - like more fat than you'.

    I know people who are 'fat-suit' large. They're not invisible and they're also not one item of food away from dying either. It's ridiculous to suggest that or claim that there's some imaginary line that is crossed and someone goes from being fat to dying fat. It doesn't exist.

    Still, I think it is great that there is such a lot of discussion about this. Though I credit that to Ally's awesomeness and not necessarily the play itself.

  9. I saw the play with some friends after reading Ally’s post. I hated the play. I read Jonny’s post, and now I hate it even more.

    First off let’s start with …‘[Galen is] a man who is one chocolate thin away from death.’ Jonny, are you kidding me? You have the audacity to write this piece, and try and justify Galen’s character and then throw this in the mix? Urgh. I know commentators have already brought this up but I want to bring it up again and say how NOT OK I am with this sort of fatphobic assumption coming from someone given the privilege of posting on I Am Offended Because. Chocolate Thins, in themselves, do not kill people.

    Done, OK so Jonny goes on to say ‘And the problem is not that [Galen] is merely fat, it is that he is supremely unhealthy.’ - Why the fat suit then? I still see no justification. Over eating does not always result in a fat person, there are plenty of people in this world that do not eat well and starve their bodies of nutrients. Even these people come in all shapes and sizes. Galen in a fat suit epitomised the old and stale idea that over-eaters and unhealthy eaters are always overweight, and overweight people are always unhealthy. I am aware that this is highly likely to have been a script/directing decision but I’ll direct this at Jonny, seeing as he is trying to justify it like a fatphobia apologist.

    Jonny said ‘I said I would be keen to play Galen (I read the part at the play's first airing in 2008), and pointed out that there is really nobody big enough to play him. Even if we had used a very fat actor, the actor would not have been fat enough.’ There is not a fucking chance Lawrence would have been able to cast someone who would have fitted the morbidly obese quota. No one with an ounce of self respect who comes under that definition on the BMI scale would take the prejudice they experience every day of their lives and epitomise it on the stage. Jonny continues to say that ‘If he was fat enough, he probably would not have had the ability to play the part. Galen is not merely fat, he is so fat he is on the verge on death. If a fat actor should have been employed, which one?’ How are you to know? Are you an expert on the function of every single body that can come under the definition of ‘morbidly obese’? Maybe you should have actually bothered talked to fat actors about this role in the first place to see how they would feel playing Galen, and how they would feel representing their body shape in that way. I can only presume that the decision to not cast a fat person in this role is a cowardly way of avoiding the elephant in the room; and that is, that this play is fatphobic.

    Jonny then responds to Ally’s summaries of the depictions of the fat body in NTF!. He has acknowledged that the instance of Galen in the foetal position in food wrappers failed. The next depiction she brings up is '[Galen] carries with him a bag of sweets, a bag that eventually explodes because it is so jam packed with candy'. Jonny responded by saying ‘ The bag does not explode because it is overstuffed with candy, the candy jumps out as part of its evil plan to knock Galen off.’ It actually didn’t. Again, if this is not what happened on stage it cannot be justified with what was meant to happen. All I saw was a fat man with lollies falling out of his bag. CONT>>>>>

  10. >>>CONT.
    Jonny says ‘Galen is not standing in for every fat person’.
    Really? Because all in all Galen was the depiction of every disgusting stereotype of a fat person I have ever seen. This play is littered with a cast of what I can probably safely call microcosms of bigger issues. And microcosms are easy to use for satire because there is some emotional distance from specific character, situation, background etc. Why then do you think Galen is an exception to this? You can call this a satire but I wasn’t laughing, Jonny and neither were my fat friends. Who is this a satire for? As an actor, how do you feel invoking feelings of humiliation in your audience members? Calling this a satire further alienates the issue from the effect it has on individuals, and it not being a ‘morality play’ doesn’t make its damage less real.It would be ignorant to suggest that people go to the theatre and not take anything from it but a few jokes. You are commenting on society; society is going to reflect and compare.

    Finally Jonny says ‘[the play]among other things, is [to] draw attention to prejudice and fear around the way people view bodies.’ - Yeah it does draw attention to prejudice and fear, AND IT CONTINUES IT. The play does absolutely nothing to give these issues the weight they deserve, pun intended. It does nothing to acknowledge the mental illness and self-hatred that result from these problems, and it provides no resolution. I sat through nearly two hours of body hating crap. After having said all that, the set design was good. That is all.

  11. Nice comment, Anonymous. On the "morbidly obese" side of things, Jonny, I think you might benefit from the BMI Project put together by the wonderful Shapely Prose bloggers a while back. It says a lot about the shifting, vague definitions we use when describing weight and "overweightness".

    Also, here's a woman who definitely counts as morbidly obese, and you and your fellow actors would probably learn a lot just from the fact that yes, those are pictures of her doing yoga.

    (Her blog is called Living ~400 Lbs; that's 181kg.)

  12. This is not meant to detract from any of the arguments, or to show support on either side, but I can't help but point out that the 'chocolate thin' comment was surely a reference to that scene in Monty Python's 'Meaning of Life'- the 'wafer thin mint'. i.e. a reference to a totally overblown caricature, not intended to be taken literally. Meanwhile that particular scene can also be submitted to all of the critiques above.

  13. Oh okay then, Anonymous, you're right. Stereotypical portrayals aren't damaging AT ALL. We should all just calm down, shouldn't we? And how awful it would be to show support for people who are requesting that fat people be depicted as human beings.

  14. If it were "surely" a reference to Python one assumes it would have been an actual reference - i.e. "A wafer-thin mint" instead of talking about a ubiquitous Kiwi brand of biscuits.

    Yes, there are problematic aspects of the Mr Creosote skit, but I don't think any of the Pythons ever waxes lyrical about how they were trying to challenge stereotypes or break through barriers or "food being the enemy". They wanted to make a skit about a very fat, very rich man (and I think it's very important that we look at Creosote's fatness as a reflection of *wealth*-and-greed, not just "too many biscuits") who vomits all over the place and explodes. It's infantile and shallow but at least it's not pretending otherwise.

  15. I realise I made a big mistake in the post! Galen is not like Karras in The Exorcist, he is like Regan. Malcolm is Karras. That is, the food pyramid scheme has already possessed Galen and is using him to get to Malcolm. - Jonny.

  16. I liked Jonny's performance, I thought it was poignient and I liked the character and wanted him to get better - that's th effect it had on me.