Media, Miscellaneous, Pop Culture

Big, Sloppy Kisses for Daniel Engber, and Some Other Stuff

So, we haven’t touched Wall-E around here so far because others have handled it ably, Pixar-loving* trolls are a pain in the ass, and as far as I know, none of us have seen it. But I’ve got to send some love out to Daniel Engber for this Slate article on exactly why the “easy analogy between obesity and ecological catastrophe” is a big load of hooey.

[T]he metaphor only works if you believe familiar myths about the overweight: They’re weak-willed, indolent, and stupid. Sure enough, that’s how Pixar depicts the future of humanity. The people in Wall-E drink “cupcakes-in-a-cup,” they never exercise, and if they happen to fall off their hovering chairs, they thrash around like babies until a robot helps them up. They watch TV all day long and can barely read.

It ought to go without saying that this stereotype of the “obese lifestyle” is simply false.

Be still, my heart! And yeah, it bloody well ought to go without saying, but as reactions to Engber’s piece at both Jezebel and Gawker** illustrate, sometimes it doesn’t go even after you fucking say it. Sigh.

Anyway, go read the whole thing and enjoy one of those rare, exhilarating moments when someone outside the fatosphere actually gets it. And hey, now that I mention it, those moments haven’t even been that rare this week. For another dose of “surprisingly humane” attitudes toward fat people, go follow Michelle’s link to a MeFi post wherein a fat woman asks the hivemind if it’s okay for her to wear a bathing suit in public — and they say hell, yes! After that, head on over to the NYT’s Well blog, where Tara Parker-Pope approvingly quotes a bona fide medical doctor who says crazy things like, “Perhaps I am too easy on people, but I don’t like to lecture people on things they already know. I don’t like to say the obvious: ‘You need to lose weight.'”  Granted, the doc also goes for the obligatory, “Yes, obesity is a problem,” and says he still helps people try to lose weight — and as always at the NYT, you should not read the comments. Dear god, DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS. But any doc who says, “Instead of patronizing obese patients with a lecture, I try sympathizing with them,” gets at least a small, un-sloppy kiss from me.

Finally, since we have no fluff today, please feel free to use this thread as a place to talk about summer movies other than Wall-E, or anything else that pops your cork.

*Like Rachel, I actually am basically a fan of Pixar — although like every feminist blogger in the universe, I would really love to see them produce an ass-kicking female lead character one of these days. I watched Monsters, Inc for the first time recently and adored it (a couple of throwaway fat jokes notwithstanding), though that might just be because the Mean Whasian Baby, now a Mean Whasian Toddler, looks and sounds exactly like Boo. In any case, I am not anti-Pixar. I am anti-lazy, crappy satire that relies on ridiculous stereotypes.

**As your Sanity Watchers leader, I will not link to those posts, but you know where to find them if you must.

100 thoughts on “Big, Sloppy Kisses for Daniel Engber, and Some Other Stuff”

  1. Well, “Boo” can be categorized as a female lead. Okay, not really, but my mad endless crush on both John Goodman and Sully makes me want to give extra Monsters, Inc. love. Holly Hunter is an ass-kicking female lead in The Incredibles, but she’s also a housewife. Pixar has a way to go.

  2. It seems that a large number of this summer’s movies stereotype fat people or make fat jokes. In addition to WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda, there is Get Smart (in which Steve Carrell’s character was a weak-willed, pathetic eating machine until he radically slimmed down and became a super spy) and Wanted (in which the first line is James MacAvoy sarcastically calling his fat female boss anorexic, followed by the seemingly obligatory close-up fat-lady-eating-donuts montage and, later in the movie, a speech in which he lectures her that everyone hates her because she’s such a bitch, and he knows that she acts that way only because she’s pathetic and fat, and really everyone should feel sorry for her).

  3. Since it’s basically a free thread and TV is like a movie, I’m going to ignore everything about Wall-E (haven’t seen it; probably will; all cartoons rely on spurious logic so you can’t hold that against the good ones) and complain about Lost. (Tiny spoiler warning.) I’m making my way through the series and I just got to the part where Hurley is hoarding food and then it turns out he was in psychiatric treatment for — it’s not clear, binge eating? Trauma because he caused an accident with his body weight? You’re supposed to think he’s binge eating because of the accident, but of course he was already fat before the accident, or he wouldn’t be beating himself up for being so fat that he caused the accident, but of course it’s treated as totally reasonable that he would be able to lose all the weight that he’s evidently always had as soon as he gets over the trauma. And dieting — like, celery sticks dieting — is presented as the cure for binge eating, which, WHAT?

    The thing that really bugs me is that Jorge Garcia, who is adorable by the way, is about the same size as my normal-eatin’, bike-commutin’ boyfriend (I’m terrible with guys’ weights but I’m guessing Garcia clocks in at about three bucks). But of course his compulsive eating is presented as the only thing that could possibly explain his immense size.

    At least he gets to go along on some of the expeditions, and they don’t act like he wouldn’t be able to keep up (which so far he always has).

  4. Oh! That was sarcasm! I somehow thought he was being accurate in saying she was anorexic, then I was confused every time they showed the donuts. Maybe I missed it because I don’t assume fat people can’t be anorexic? Anyways, that was one big issue I had with the movie (the other being the insistence that to be a “real man” you have to be violent).

  5. Oh! That was sarcasm! I somehow thought he was being accurate in saying she was anorexic, then I was confused every time they showed the donuts. Maybe I missed it because I don’t assume fat people can’t be anorexic?

    I have to say, I have seen a version of this joke really work. There’s a line in Good Omens that goes something like “she was convinced she must be anorexic, because every time she looked in the mirror she did indeed see a fat person,” and that just makes me laugh and laugh.

    Wanted sounds stupid though. As cute as that leading guy is.

  6. Since Lost was brought up I feel like I can take a moment and gush about how happy I am that Burn Notice is back!!! OMG! Take me now Michael Weston!

    Alas the (ass kicking) female lead on the show is so thin it renders her unattractive to me. But she is ballsy, and that kindof makes up for the rest of the bikini clad blondes that serve as a backdrop for the series.

    And did I mention Michael Weston is hot? YAY Burn Notice!

  7. I thought he was being sarcastic, but I could be wrong. I just can’t imagine that the character would recognize that such a horrible, repulsive fatty could possibly have an eating disorder of that nature.

  8. Great Gaiman reference, Fillyjonk! (He’s my favorite author.) But in response to Chiken: I can’t hear you, nahnahnahnahnah, lalalalala. *fingers in ears* ;-) Seriously, I’m really depressed that he actually agreed to say that, he was the hotness to me. Damn him!

    In response to the OT, that Slate article kicked ass! I want to clutch Mr.Engber to my fatty boosom and smother him with love! I will feed him and pet him and call him George!

  9. The leading guy in Wanted IS cute. Too bad the violent trailers turned me off, with the whole kill 1 save a million thing.

    Oh, Wall-E. I already said my piece on the Have not the energy to do it again.

  10. Like Rachel, I actually am basically a fan of Pixar — although like every feminist blogger in the universe, I would really love to see them produce an ass-kicking female lead character one of these days.


    (and OMG Kristen Chenoweth!)

    Wanted (in which the first line is James MacAvoy sarcastically calling his fat female boss anorexic, followed by the seemingly obligatory close-up fat-lady-eating-donuts montage and, later in the movie, a speech in which he lectures her that everyone hates her because she’s such a bitch, and he knows that she acts that way only because she’s pathetic and fat, and really everyone should feel sorry for her).

    I know!!! That made me so sad. I really wanted to like that movie (you know, for being a mindless, and I mean mindless, action movie), but that part really got under my skin.

    And I saw Wall-E, and the worst part about all fat jokes and complete lack or respect for diversity in that regard was that the other parts of the movie, where the people weren’t present and so you could forget that they were using fat as this representation for over-consumerism, were really beautifully done, which just makes it that much more frustrating. I wanted to throw stuff at the screen, and was in a really bad mood afterward, because I loved the character of Wall-E, and hated the story he was put into.


    But! I saw The Happening and enjoyed myself. If you’re, you know, able to really up the ante on your willing suspension of disbelief, and if you don’t mind the news guy at the end making the whole thing a bit anvilicious, is a good bit of movie fun. Hilarious (intentionally, I think) through most of it, with a couple good made-you-jump moments.

    (Although I think, no mater how you look at it, the Aesop they were trying to get across was broken. Because, first off, it’s a fantastic Aesop, and so doesn’t work in the real world, but even if it did, if what you’re supposed to take from the film is “We should be nice to the trees and plants or else they’ll totally kill us“, I can tell you that about half the people there left the theatre thinking, “We should kill the trees before they kill us!!!“)

    But I really enjoyed myself nonetheless.


  11. Great Gaiman reference, Fillyjonk!

    Wait until I finally make a post about the “food” in Good Omens that’s made of indigestible junk with added fat and sugar, with the result that anyone who eats it gets very fat and starves to death. :)

    I got a wee bit over Gaiman once I stopped being Le Angstie Teene, but the alchemy of Gaiman and Prachett is truly the most brilliant and fruitful collaboration since Fry and Laurie.

  12. FJ, that is NOT the reason he’s in psychiatric care.

    At the time I watched that episode I was not yet very FA aware and didn’t really think twice about the fact that the one fat character on the show (off the top of my head I can’t think of another one) just MUST automatically have binge disorder. But since then I’ve thought about it and haven’t been happy with it. There have been a handful of sort-of fat jokes since then, too (the crackers in the finale, anyone??). But if it helps, he continues to be a truly awesome character and everyone loves him like WHOA, and for the most part the show doesn’t make him the butt of jokes. Sawyer even gets punished for calling him names. fwiw.

  13. I should clarify that I can’t think of situations where the *show* makes fun of Hurley’s weight. Characters do, but it makes them look like assholes.

  14. I saw Wall-E and found it to be such an otherwise beautiful and lovely movie that the anti-fat-ness stung so much more than it would in another context. It just ruined it for me, and it actually made me tear up as I tried to explain to my Pixar-lovin’, animator fiance how problematic it was.

    He listened patiently, and he tried to explain to me that the director did not intend to portray the humans as lazy fatties but as adult humans who have basically been reduced to infants, which is why they can’t walk and why they obliviously take orders and let robots do everything for them. That explanation, I guess, means that their blobby bodies are just BABY fat or something.

    I told him that, even if it’s true, none of that matters at ALL, because no matter what the intent was, associating certain behavors with certain bodies is unavoidably problematic and highly POLITICAL. I refuse to accept that everyone with any say at Pixar is innocent in this and that they had no idea what message they were sending.

    Sorry for ranting. It’s just been a tension-causing movie at home lately, since the fiance basically thinks it’s possibly the biggest animation masterpiece in history, and I can’t share in the joy with him.

  15. FJ, that is NOT the reason he’s in psychiatric care.

    I suppose Dave might have something to do with it.

    I was actually really pleased with how the show was handling Hurley and his fat until the binge thing started — even when he’s first shown bingeing, in a dream sequence, he’s not reacting to the food any differently than the other castaways on a motherfucking desert island. So I’m not writing the show off just yet… there were just a couple episodes that really bugged me.

  16. It’s just been a tension-causing movie at home lately, since the fiance basically thinks it’s possibly the biggest animation masterpiece in history, and I can’t share in the joy with him.

    It can be an animation masterpiece without being a social commentary masterpiece! I mean, On The Road is a brilliant literary work while still being misogynist junk (first thing that sprang to mind, but there are other examples). Can you guys make peace on that basis?

  17. Wait until I finally make a post about the “food” in Good Omens that’s made of indigestible junk with added fat and sugar, with the result that anyone who eats it gets very fat and starves to death. :)

    FJ, I love you, and I want to have your babies. I discovered the two of them a couple of years ago, and I’m now a Gaiman and Pratchett junkie.

  18. Wow, Engber just made up for all the drivel from Lord Saletan, right there. He even linked JFS. Now, will anyone besides us believe him?

  19. Time-Machine: While I agree that Rapunzel (as fairy-tale heroines go) is pretty kick ass in the darker versions of the story. I can’t see much hope that a Disney animated version will actually be true to that.

    Do you have inside info that they’re not going to simply “princess-ify” her like they have every single other female fairy tale lead? Because what they normally do to those characters makes me want to break things.

  20. God, Rapunzel? Seriously? The princess who sits in a tower and never does anything besides grow her hair? That’s who they choose to make their foray into Girl Movies? (Because of course movies with female protagonists are Girl Movies. Movies with male protagonists are just Movies.)

    Incidentally, I just have to report some comments from an earlier conversation with Lynne:

    lynne: ooo i just told my officemate about the article and said that you guys are hesitant to touch pixar because everyone wants their babies, and she said it’s easy to want to have their babies since all the protagonists are male

    lynne: oh and now she says she’s heard they might be making a new pixar film with a female lead, but don’t worry because it will be a princess.

  21. Dave does have something to do with it!

    Yeah, and they barely mention it again, if I’m remembering right. I kind of think that they made that backstory because they want the audience to LOVE Hurley for his awesomeness, and maybe they thought people need some kind of excuse to forgive someone for being fat before they can like him. Which is awful and they shouldn’t cater to that, but I doubt the writers are all FA or anything.

  22. Which is awful and they shouldn’t cater to that, but I doubt the writers are all FA or anything.

    They’re doing a pretty good job, all told. He goes on the expedition to the Black Rock, which is quite a hike, and he beats up Sawyer, and he briefly gets the girl, and if I’d made it to the gym today I would have gotten to watch him head out for the Others’ camp. It’s not like he’s constantly the butt of jokes, even if he does fall on his face kind of a lot. Don’t worry, Lost writers! I’m not mad at you for this!

    I’m mad at you for the tree frog episode.

  23. There was also a humorous snarky take-down recently, by the inimitable James Lileks, of a piece called – I’m not making this up – We’re Fat and Scared, So I’m Glad Food and Petrol Cost More.

    Incidentally, I read James Lileks for the laughs, but also because he’s conservative and I’m not and he keeps me on my toes. If you’re politically to the left, though, there is a chance he may make you break out in hives, so be warned. (There’s a take-down of an Obama remark in the same piece, for example.)

  24. fj: I know every one’s not a fairy tale junkie like I am, but the thing is that in some of the older (non-kid friendly) versions of Rapunzel, it’s actually her idea to let the prince into the tower, have sex with him, and then escape using her hair — that she grew because the witch made her — and then when she and the prince are caught and blinded she saves his ass.

    The stories are (or were anyway) hard, cold commentary on selfishness, motherhood, and women’s roles as property. So Disney deciding to take on Rapunzel is probably even worse than you think. :-)

  25. On The Road is a brilliant literary work while still being misogynist junk (first thing that sprang to mind, but there are other examples

    Merchant of Venice, anyone? I mean, that is one that actually is *about* its own prejudices, so that’s a little better than Wall-E, but still. Heart of Darkness is just like that, too.

    Women in Love, OTOH, is unredeemable sexist and racist swill. (She says now that she’s passed her orals!) THOUGH IT DOES HAVE NUDE ALL-MALE WRESTLING

  26. Do you have inside info that they’re not going to simply “princess-ify” her like they have every single other female fairy tale lead? Because what they normally do to those characters makes me want to break things.

    No inside info, but Disney, and especially Pixar (lately) have been trying to go out of their way lately to make their female characters and leads more than helpless damsels (though I hate how they lampshaded it in Enchanted. The battle with the dragon scene would have been so much more badass if the dragon hadn’t been all like, “Look! It’s a girl fighting the dragon this time! Aren’t we progressive?”). A lot of this comes from the frequent complaints they’ve been receiving along those exact lines. I think they are more aware, now than ever, of the implications of their stories.

    And Rapunzel *is* a fairy tale where she winds up a Princess by the end. And I actually attribute a lot of my feminist leaning as a kid to my mad love for leading characters like Belle from Beauty and the Beast (who still is a total idol of mine- broken Aesops aside).

    And I suppose I have high hopes because this isn’t Disney (though Disney’s Mulan was also quite cool) alone, this is Pixar. The few (sadly, few) female characters Pixar has had in their movies have been pretty consistently strong characters. And John Lasseter, the God of Pixar, before his Pixar fame, was also the guy responsible for bringing the Ghibli movies to the states, and is a huge Miyazaki fandork.

    And Miyazaki is the almighty epitome of children’s-movies-with-kickass-female-leads.

    So, I guess I just think that with Pixar’s track record (with female characters and good stories, at least, not necessarily with good social commentary on the whole Wall-E thing *gets angry*) I’m allowing myself to have high hopes for this one.

  27. I told him that, even if it’s true, none of that matters at ALL, because no matter what the intent was, associating certain behavors with certain bodies is unavoidably problematic and highly POLITICAL.

    Right, I mean, this is akin to all the villains in the new Star wars just happening to have Asian accents even though they were fucking space aliens.

  28. I have been having this argument at Gawker ALLLLLLL morning. Speaking of which, can someone please point me to the post about how the rise in obesity is really BS and is mostly due to the change in BMI categories. I need it for ammunition.

  29. I’m making my way through the series and I just got to the part where Hurley is hoarding food and then it turns out he was in psychiatric treatment for — it’s not clear, binge eating?

    There’s actually a fairly good scene between Hurley and Libby in which it’s established that fat != glutton, but that Hurley does have an eating disorder.

    However, his eating disorder isn’t the reason he’s in a psych facility. That would be because he hallucinates.

    Lost has had some crappy moments wrt Hurley, but they’ve also had some very good ones, too, and the fact that he’s one of the main heroes of the show–and a lot more than just comic relief–impresses me.

  30. fj: Yeah, I think we’ve made peace about it the best that we can, but I still think he feels awkward about singing the praises of the movie, because he’s always very sensitive to how important the social justice stuff is to me. And it makes me sad to rain on his parade by pointing out that it’s great in a lot of ways, but not perfect.

    It helps that I wasn’t upset with the movie from a feminist persepctive (for a change). I LOVED the character Eve, and it kicked ass how Wall-E got to be a sensitive and nurturing male, while she got to be blatantly courageous and heroic. I think he was relieved to not hear me fret over the complete lack of good female characters for once.

  31. I guess I’ll be the lone voice of dissent. I saw Wall*E last week and wasn’t offended at all. ::shrug:: I fully expected to be, based on everything I’d been reading in the fatosphere, but I just couldn’t seem to muster up any outrage. I guess I just took the brief explantion given in the film as to why the humans were so fat at face value(“due to the effects of prolonged microgravity” or some such thing).

  32. “summer movies other than Wall-E”

    Ooo! Ooo! Pick me! Pick me!

    Who’s already bought their Dark Knight tickets for next week?

  33. Oh Pixar. You do some things so well and others so very not well. *sigh*

    I haven’t seen “Cars” and as someone who has lived in rodent infested apartments, the sight of all those rats in the kitchen in “Ratatouille” just didn’t work for me.

    They’ve never matched “Bug’s Life” or “Toy Story” in my book, though “The Incredibles” was pretty awesome. “Nemo” was boring (Dorie bugged the crap out of me) and “Monsters Inc.” was really weak. I don’t think I can bring myself to even see “Wall-E” because I’m just going to have a fit at the “overconsumption = fat blobs” parts.

    I’m mostly waiting around for July 18th, movie-wise. :)

  34. Who’s already bought their Dark Knight tickets for next week?

    My friends and I are talking about taking a small road trip to see it on IMAX!



    I guess I just took the brief explantion given in the film as to why the humans were so fat at face value(”due to the effects of prolonged microgravity” or some such thing).

    Except that line was delivered with a wink and a nudge, and followed by the line “But nothing a few laps around the track won’t cure!”

    HAHA, get it? It was just a polite euphemism for the fact that you’re a lazy fatty!

    That line actually made me more angry than a lot of the others, because not only are they fat, but they’re too stupid a lazy to know it! Woo, those fatties.

    But back to the Dark Knight – heeeeee! I can’t wait!

    I also want to know when we’re getting a teaser trailer for the next Harry Potter. It’s supposed to be sometime this summer, but I feel like I’ve been waiting foreeeevverrrrr.

    Also, did anyone else see the trailers for that American Girls movie, and then get all nostalgic, because American Girls!, and then secretly want to go see it?

    Or was that just me?

    *hides American Girls anthology*

  35. So, I guess I just think that with Pixar’s track record (with female characters and good stories, at least, not necessarily with good social commentary on the whole Wall-E thing *gets angry*) I’m allowing myself to have high hopes for this one.

    Ahh, I see. I’d love for you to be right, but I’m just hardcore cynical when it comes to Disney and actual “fairy tales” — of course some of that blame lies with the Victorians. heh.

  36. In reference to Time-Machine’s review of “The Happening”

    I really liked the movie. And while the plot line was out there for terrestrial plants, It happens all the time in our oceans. I used to be very into freshwater and saltwater fish. I had some really neat fish and reef tanks for awhile (until I got sick of all the upkeep on 10 tanks) anyway…. While coral are technically animals not plants they do interact in an amazing array of chemical warfare every day. They actively attack other types of coral that get too close, and actively and passively release toxins that kill or slow the growth of other types of coral. That is why you are not supposed to keep leather corals and hard corals in the same confined tank unless you are willing to do large water changes every week. The leather corals release a toxin that will slow the hard coral growth at best and kill them if you allow it to build up in the tank. So while everyone else left thinking how implausible the plot was, i was thinking that its not a far leap from whats happening right now everyday right under our noses.

    As far as Wall-E is concerned. Yes it was pretty but I was disappointed with the way that they were infantilized the fat humans. I read an interview where the director talked about how he had not meant it to be a message equating fat to lazyness or overconsumption but instead he wanted to realistically portray what would happen to the human body after prolonged exposure to low levels of gravity during space travel. I know that NASA has done experiments and that we do for a fact know that despite our best efforts at nutrition and exercise in a weightless environment humans loose bone mass. So big pat on the back for them keeping to a scientific reality…….. big disappointment that they would not realize in the current cultural atmosphere that their target audience would completely miss the scientific connection. In general judging from consumer comments on the web and associates that have watched it. I don’t even think the adults got the intended connection. All the adult comments i have read say that their children came away with the intended message that lazyness and overconsumption leads you to be fat and lazy. Which was not the directors intention at all. If the adults were unable to see the connection then it was poorly communicated on the part of the movie.

    The director should know that intentions do not mean much if the over all consequence had the opposite effect. Maybe they should have worked a little harder on making the scientific link more pronounced.

    I’m going to watch the “Hell boy” sequel tonight, I have high hopes.

  37. Meowser:

    1. I love you.
    2. The conversation is pretty much over now, because no one likes it when some actually informed fatty comes with actual facts and demands that they have to actually back up their assumptions ( ie.Very few obese people have genetic problems, most just overeat and don’t exercise) with actual data. I always love blowing their MINDS with scientific data!
    3. I love you.
    4. Actually, fwiw there was a LOT less fat hatred at Gawker then I thought and Jezebel is actually a pretty bad ass site that always takes a positive stance on FA.

  38. Dude! I am with you, shinobi, on the Burn Notice love! What isn’t there to love about a show with explosions and Bruce Campbell? And Sharon Gless — can’t forget her. (It does amuse me that she seems to be cast with sons named Michael recently.)

    Fiona is also too thin for my tastes. She looks a bit grey around the edges, which I usually associate with women (and men) who are forcing themselves to a weight much lower than their setpoint. Who knows, though: she could just be tired. However, she is crazy and has more chutzpah than anyone else in the show, so I’ll put up with it.

  39. Goddam, Kate, were you ever right about SW points and those comments. When will I ever learn!

  40. I had a really long debate with a friend a few days ago over why the “obesity=lazy” stereotype was bad in Wall-E. He insists that children aren’t sophisticated enough to connect the dots on that message, but you really can’t underestimate how much a movie can affect a kid’s perceptions. I just was so hurt by Pixar, who are usually so clever, taking the stereotyped visual to make a point, and I’m already annoyed by how overweight characters are presented in every other kid’s show. SpongeBob, Chowder, The Mighty B, even an ep of the usually great Kim Possible have all depicted fat characters as ugly, stupid, lazy and gluttonous.

    I do hope to go see The Dark Knight in theaters; Maggie Gyllenhaal is such an interesting choice for a love interest (thank God they didn’t bring back Katie Holmes)

  41. I’m having a “stereotypical fatty” moment, but cupcakes-in-a-cup sounds delish. Sounds like Sonic’s new hit summer ice cream treat thingie to me.

    Just thinking about it has made my blood sugar spike though. No baby flavored donuts for me today, I guess.

  42. Time-Machine, there’s an American Girls movie? Oooh.

    And a bit late, but Good Omens ftw! I’m convinced that I’m going to be kicked out of geekdom for preferring Pratchett to Gaiman, but that’s pretty much a perfect book.

  43. I thought that the plot for Wanted was pretty weak, but the director, Timur Bekmambetov, makes gorgeous pieces of movie art. If you don’t mind reading your movies everyone should see Night Watch and Day Watch, they are full of awesomeness.

    I am looking forward to seeing the Dark Knight too, even though the trailers make it sound like they dubbed Heath Ledger’s voice, and the first movie in the series kind of gave Batman The Shadow’s backstory, which weirded me out. But no one else seems to mind, and it doesn’t seem very likely that they will bring back Michael Keaton anytime soon :(

    The new Hellboy is coming out too, my love for Ron Perlman knows no bounds. I think it’s awesome that they got a fifty year old man to play a young adult superhero; it makes my cross-generational crushes seem more acceptable in my head.

  44. I caught a chunk of NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday that included an interview with Andrew Stanton, the director of WALL-E. The interviewer went in pretty early for the “overconsumption” and “obesity” angles, but I was impressed with Stanton’s responses. I haven’t seen WALL-E, so he might’ve been bullshitting, but his explanations of the setting and of the humans actually seemed reasonable: first, that he’d been toying with the idea of the “last robot on earth” and needed to come up with a scenario that facilitated that character’s story. He talked about ordering things online all the time and, thus, the amount of packaging that he and his wife accumulate, and decided to take that to its logical extreme. He was pretty emphatic about just following the character backwards to the setting rather than trying to find an outlet for a political or social comment. He said that he wanted to make WALL-E a trash compactor as an analogue to a low-status human job–janitor–to make him all that much more small and insignificant, the tragedy of a forgotten worker, toiling on, unaware that he has become irrelevant.

    With regard to the “blobby” people, he talked about having been told about a problem that NASA’s been working on for space travel: when people are in microgravity for long periods of time, they loose bone mass–bone mass that they cannot recover. (I think he actually said, “it’s kinda creepy”.) Once again taking the reductio ad absurdium route, he envisioned people as eventually becoming boneless because of their prolonged microgravity exposure. He originally wanted blobs of jello with eyeballs floating in them, but decided that that was too silly and that they needed to scale back. He then came upon the idea of people becoming more and more infantized by their own technology. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like “all the problems were figured out–health, nutrition, longevity, but then, what’s the point of living?” He said he was going not for the obesity/overconsumption cliche, but trying to evoke the image of infants, humans with no need to grow up because they’ve developed technology to care for them indefinitely.

    In the current political/social climate, it is sort of hard to swallow that he didn’t at least anticipate the interpretations his film would evoke, but he gained points in my book for emphasizing the characterization and narrative aspects of his aesthetic choices and completely derailing the interviewer when she went down the obesity epidemicBOOGABOOGABOOGA route.

  45. Whoops! I just realized that interview was covered on the F-Word…sorry for not reading all the links before opening my mouth!

  46. I was going to ask you today about your views on Wall-E! Although I enjoyed the movie, it certainly is fatophobic and it reinforces the prejudice against fat people (and not only Wall-E, but Get Smart as well. And Wanted is very, very mysogynistic).
    One point I haven’t read anywhere and which really caught my attention was how the people (all fat) are not representative of the human race as a whole, only of Americans. There are black and white Americans (and still no interracial marriage in the year 2700), but no Asians, hispanics, or anyone who speaks any other language except American English. I’m baffled that even Brazilian film critics (I’m from Brazil) other than myself haven’t realized that. Sorry, but the irony hurts me here: Americans, who nowadays represent only 5% of the world population, are responsible for 30% of everything consumed in the world. And then, when the world ends, only Americans survive?! Ouch!
    One tiny bit that has to be said in favor of Wall-E is that, even though all the Americans/humans depicted in the movie are obese, the commercials inside the film still show thin people. Nothing will have changed by 2700 in that arena.
    I wrote a review about the movie here.
    It’s in Portuguese, but you can access the automatic translator. The title, translated, is “Robot makes Americans more humane, but doesn’t make a roach less of a roach”. There’s a flying coackroach in the film and it happens to be Wall-E’s best friend. But it’s a ROACH, for God’s sake. Very, very disgusting. And disturbing. Nodoby told me I was going to watch a horror film.

  47. I saw Get Smart, and I actually really, really liked it. I mean, it had issues. Why Maxwell Smart had to be Jared the Subway Guy, I really don’t know.

    But a big part of the movie was about humanizing people we typically think of as Other, including fat people (it’s a shame that the scene where he dances with a fat girl is used IRL as a Subway commercial, because in the film it’s actually pretty cool and NOT fat-shaming). During one of the fight scenes, Smart refuses to shoot one of the Big Scary Invincible Guys, and says something like, “Big people feel pain, too.” And that sort of felt like the moral of the story on some level.

    YMMV, of course. There was still the problem that Smart felt zomg SO MUCH BETTER once he lost 150 pounds, and when I talk about humanizing the Other, it seems like fat people are in the same category as hulking enforcers and mobsters. I think I also really *want* to like the film, because part of me wants to have Steve Carrell’s babies. But it just seemed like, for a mainstream film, it did better than most in portraying/talking about fat people.

  48. ya know, i was wondering if someone over here was going to raise a disparaging eyebrow at ‘wanted’…

    my bf manages an enormous movie theater, so we get to go see pretty much whatever we want whenever we want. which has led, on several occasions now, to me catching things that i otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with. i was so extremely pissed at ‘wanted’, i actually wanted my 2 hours back. it was not merely content to be loud & stupid (which would have been fine), but it had to go all the way over to insulting. it’s *amazingly* sexist in BOTH ways – all the women are either whores or harridans (occasionally both); all the men are repeatedly described as “pussies” until they pick up a gun and unquestioningly shoot someone else, at which point they get to be real men. not real charming on the FA front, either, as there is a fo-reals slo-mo close-up shot of the evil fatty boss’ jowls rippling at him as she yells at the main character. and people in the theater were cheering this crap…i weep for humanity.

    meanwhile, yes, i’m uber-giddy about ‘the dark knight’, though sadly, these high-profile things get shipped into the theater on super secret double probation security, so we prolly won’t get a sneak screening a few days before (yes, i am that spoiled). thankfully, there’s ‘hellboy’ to hold us over for this weekend!

    ‘good omens’ ftw indeed! and to tie all these bits up…there’s a long rumored film version of GO in the works, with Terry Gilliam (!!!) to direct. but considering how routinely Gilliam gets the shaft in hollywood, it’ll likely never leave development hell.

  49. There are black and white Americans (and still no interracial marriage in the year 2700), but no Asians, hispanics, or anyone who speaks any other language except American English.

    Wow. What the hell?

    And ditto to everyone who hated both the fat hatred and the misogyny in Wanted. I didn’t hate that one quite as much as Crank, which was my all-time greatest Feminist Head Exploder, but I haven’t been that sputtery walking out of a theater in a long time. (And I see a lot of action movies, so I do my fair share of sputtering.)

    It kills me that that movie got mostly positive reviews. Meanwhile, Hancock, which I really liked, got mostly crappy ones. At least the critics and I agreed on Iron Man.

    And yes, I am totally stoked for The Dark Knight, though I am also totally not seeing it on opening weekend or anywhere near that. The crowds won’t be worth the instant gratification. I do, however, intend to see Mamma Mia on opening weekend, both because I want to support a movie with that many women behind it, and because I fucking love both musicals and ABBA. (And loved the stage production, which I’m now debating seeing again.)

  50. Hi, I’m new around here and needed to put in my two cents about WALL-E. I didn’t find anything offensive about it at all. It reminded me of scifi stories where robots created for the convienence of humankind become smarter and then work to keep the humans helpless (I.e. The autopilot).

  51. I saw Wall-E and it isn’t (to my mind) a particularly harsh movie regarding obesity – the humans in it are a better example of genetic mutation over a number of generations, and frankly, my fave part of the movie is that the fat girl is shown as being a love interest – no joking about it, no sly jokes, just a sweet romance. And the story does make it clear that they are not lazy, per se, but that people are not suited to living for hundreds of years in space.

  52. My movie review about Get Smart is called “License to kill Get Smart” (which works better in Portuguese, since the title is Agente 86). Since the beginning the movie talks of the threat of carbohydrates, which apparently constitute a bigger menace than any nuclear bomb. Then there’s the protagonist constantly showing how fat he used to be – not to mention flashbacks depicting how he used to be physically inadequate for exercises and military drills. He has nightmares in which he is fat again, and, while in his fat form, eats desperately. We learn that fat people are physically inept and that they eat too much. There’s also a scene in which a fat Russian lady in a bakery offers to have sex with him, and he very nervously declines. The scene that shows the protagonist dancing with a fat woman is not so bad, except for how it ends (men have to help the woman from hitting the floor?). But it’s not necessarily empowering either. And it comes after so much fatphobia that one single scene doesn’t save the movie.
    Wanted is outrageous. “Pussy” is the insult that appears more frequently in the film, and symbolizes everything the protagonist should not be. If we consider that the second most uttered word is probably “father”, the distinction between “pussy/woman” and “patriarch” becomes evident. All we know about the protagonist’s mother is that her husband abandoned the family when James McAvoy’s character was only two. That is, she wouldn’t exist if her husband weren’t mentioned. James finds meaning in life when he decides he has to be like his father.
    Since woman is what’s wrong, and patriarchy what’s right, women are rightly punished in the film. All the three women in Wanted (his boss, his girlfriend, and Angelina Jolie) are bossy and disloyal (and the fourth woman, the Indian in the beginning, is the film’s very first fatal victim). Jolie’s character is active, but she is not in charge. She simply obeys orders from a patriarch (Morgan Freeman), and she doesn’t have much to say.
    And it is offensive that James’ boss, a fat woman, is such a bully. Fat people are usually victims of bullies, not bullies themselves. I hated both Get Smart and Wanted. Not only because of the fatphobia and misogyny, but because of that too.

  53. My problem with WALL-E was not with the movie itself, but with what I suspect it will invoke in the majority of its viewers.

    The humans in WALL-E are fat in the way babies are fat. They’re soft, helpless, infantile creatures–the focus is on their dependency, not their fat. There was nothing mean-spirited about it. Honestly, I went into the theatre completely expecting to get all pissed and disappointed, and I just didn’t. I actually really loved the movie.

    What does concern me is that a lot of people are stoopid and the mere sight of fat sends them into an irrational, hateful frenzy. So while I looked at WALL-E and thought, “Oh, baby-like people ,” a lot of people will likely look at it and think “OMG FAT PEOPLE ARE DESTROYING TEH WORLD OH NOES.” I can just see some of the reviews now “WALL-E is an excellent depiction of what the obesity epidemic may lead to.” Society will jump on that and will, of course, ignore the real message, which is that a culture fueled by consumerism and materialism is not healthy and not sustainable.

  54. Wouldn’t a better commentary on the end of civilization have well-off people just scrutinizing every inch of themselves while they watch televisions where celebrities just shout, with big tooth-whitened smiles, “YOU’RE BAD! YOU’RE BAD! YOU’RE BAD!” And the televisions are powered by oxygen stolen from countries where poorer people live, leaving them to asphyxiate?

    (Wood: Good for axe handles AND metaphors. Okay fine, so I’m no fiction-writer. I’m just saying, it’s a lot more complicated than us all becoming overindulged babylike blobs.)

    (And tee hee hee, I just accidentally typed “babylike blogs.”)

  55. I haven’t been in a theater since 2005. I’m just not a going to the movies gal. I even don’t like watching movies on TV. So why am I even commenting in this thread?

    Well, right when Lost came out, of course the reporters asked if Hurley was going to lose weight because he was stranded on the island (remember, fat people stranded on an island with hardly any food = instant weight loss) and the writers made it clear that they were not going to force the actor (whose name escapes me) to lose weight because that would be a cliche. He was going to stay fat. I thought that was refreshing at the time. So why give him BED? Can’t fat people on TV be fat just because they are, and not because they binge or are obsessed with food?

    Also, Season Four of Doctor Who is over, and I’m a bit upset at how it all ended.

  56. No inside info, but Disney, and especially Pixar (lately) have been trying to go out of their way lately to make their female characters and leads more than helpless damsels (though I hate how they lampshaded it in Enchanted.

    I might be disagreeing largely because I hate Enchanted except for the part where the prince gets run over by the cyclists, but I honestly prefer the helpless damsel princesses to the faux-kickass ones. Snow White and the rest are all helpless, but so far removed because of that it’s easy to dismiss it (if talking to a young girl) as a fairy tale. Having the princess be exactly like a bubble-headed passive princess except for a throwaway fight scene doesn’t really cut it.

    Not that I don’t want more kickass female protagonists, I just want them to be actually interesting characters, not the same old same old plus a sword of +2 feminism.

    \end rant

  57. Everything I needed to know about Wanted I learned from two words: Mark Millar, the pink, puckered asshole of comics. (Not to be confused with Frank Miller, he of the whores whores whores fame.)

    Wake me when they do a movie based Astro City, Kurt Busiek I respect.

    On second thought, given how miserable most comic book adaptations have been, don’t let them do Astro City. I don’t trust Hollywood not to eff it all up.

  58. I’m glad the Slate post was linked here! I just logged on and happened upon it, and this is the first place I came to see if it had been discovered yet – and I’m so glad it has! Thank you!!

  59. Lola–I’d forgotten how annoyed I was leaving the theater after watching Wanted that there was never any mention of Wesley’s mother, especially since the identity of his father was so all consuming for him.

    Although I did read the article in Entertainment Weekly with Angelina Jolie where she said that she took out a lot of her character’s dialogue, that she felt Fox was more the strong, silent type. I’m not sure yet how I feel about that.

    Also they broke physics in that movie. A lot. Especially for a comic book movie that was trying to not be a comic book movie.

  60. If you’re looking for an animated movie with a pretty cool heroine, try Don Bluth’s 1997 “Anastasia.”

    It’s an anti-princess princess movie, and Meg Ryan plays the lead, with John Cusack as the love interest and sidekick.

    My four year old daughter was surprised to see a movie where the princess needed to rescue the boy, and she was just a little scared of Rasputin.

    Politically, the movie very much valorizes the Romanov dynasty and makes the Russian Revolution out to be a Very Bad Thing. And kids might come away thinking that, before the revolution, everyone lived in grand palaces.

    But it’s a cool movie from a feminist perspective.

    And in terms of FA, the film includes a fat man (Vladimir, played by Kelsey Grammar) and a fat, female character named Sophie (played by Bernadette Peters) who’s totally adorable.

    Here’s a still from the movie:

    Did I mention John Cusack, who is adorable even when animated? Go. See it. It’ll make you smile.

  61. As long as we’re talking about animated movies and the dearth of strong female leads, I’d like to point out pretty much any Miyazaki film, but especially Nausica of the Valley of the Wind. Everyone who wonders where the strong girls in the cartoons are– go watch it, then you’ll know.

    Nausica is unapologetically the heroine of the film. She’s young and female and, while not fat, not inherently scrawny or supergorgeous either. But guess what, regardless of what she looks like or which set of genitals she happens to possess– everyone respects her. She’s the most beloved person in her village, NOT because she’s the princess, but because she’s always looking out for everyone’s best interest in ways that are clever and inventive, and because she just plain likes them back. She genuinely cares about these people, they are her family and friends and she knows working together is the best way to ensure everyone’s continued survival and ability to thrive on an Earth that is very hostile… you want a message about not killing ourselves with overconsumption and hubris without the fat hate, then skip WallE and rent Nausica.

    She not only deals with others with compassion, she is out in the fields doing the lowliest work without even thinking about it, it’s just something that needs to be done and we all pitch in to do. She’s also exploring the world at large and trying to find ways to better it. She’s an open-minded, thougtful, caring figure who is also strong, intelligent, resourceful, smart, active, and altogether someone worth emulating for little girls, much more so than Fairy Pink Princess Staci. She kicks butt with the best of them too, and then does something that makes someone like me really happy, which was to come to the stark realization that revenge and anger killing solves nothing and is just MORE killing. Because let’s face it, killing the bad guy is kind of a cop-out solution in a complicated world and it doesn’t even always work. In the end the baddies are neither magically turned to friends nor massacred, but instead forced to retreat with a grudging respect and a few lessons learned, which I thought was both plausible and satisfying. You can have a happy ending without oversimplifying things!

    Even the main villain is a strong female character. Sure, her motives are rather repugnant, but they’re sort of understandable (no super villains who do stuff “because it’s eeeevil ha har!”) and she struck me as very genuine. Also, it was gratifying to note that you can have a female cyborg character without completely objectifying her body! Miyazaki, UR DOIN IT RITE. It’s not talked about in depth, in fact, it’s barely mentioned in passing (you don’t really need to talk about it, there’s her shiny metal body right there in front of ya), but there is one very poignant moment for the baddie where she opens up briefly to Nausica about the nature of her enhancements and I was touched by the honesty and lack of shame she displayed about a body that had been maimed, where most of us experience daily shame about bodies that have bloody well nothing wrong with them. It was hers and there it was, and she wasn’t about to waste time feeling awful about it. Truly a movie about overcoming adversity in a lot of ways, with an environmental message that is powerful without feeling preachy. Caring for each other and the planet is shown as the practical, logical, humane thing to do to ensure our survival as a species. What a neat concept.

    Well, so have I rambled on about it enough? (one of my fave films of all time if you couldn’t tell). Hope I didn’t spoil too much of it, but seriously folks, go buy this movie right now, you will never regret it. Nausica Nausica Nausica!!!!

    /end Miyazaki fangirl moment… know zilch about him as a person but have yet to have a complaint about him as a storyteller!

  62. Well, I just had some fun on the fray chatting with a few of the “OMG BUT OBESITY IS SUCH A PROBLEM!!!1! WE JUST NEED TO GET THEM EXERCISING MORE AND EATING LESS!!111! brigade. Actually, with a few fun facts, my post and subsequent discussion went from concern troll bait to love fest in a few short hours.

  63. Of course, I should clarify by “fray” I mean the Slate “fray,” aka the comments section of that Wall E review. I love all the people who title their comments “YOU MUST BE FAT,” because of course only fatties would dare defend the fatties.

  64. Dani, Word.

    ::does not still change her Samantha Doll’s outfit to match the seasons. Nope.::

    Also, I can’t wait for Mamma Mia, Kate, good call. I’m going to hold out on The Dark Knight until I can actually get tickets to see it on iMax.

  65. killedbyllamas, no! I am with you! Pratchett is better than Gaiman in every way. I read things like Neverwhere and I feel like angsty 15-year-old me would have LOVED this, but 22-year-old me is a bit…meh. But then, it took me about five books to get into Pratchett (never underestimate the determination of my geekdom) so I suppose I should give Gaiman more of a chance.

    Anyway, Terry Pratchett’s books make me feel like a better human being, so I will love him forever.

    Also, re: Wanted. I am very sad that it is horribly misogynistic, because now I cannot see it. And I am mildly obsessed with Bridget McManus (are there any other AE readers on here?) so I was going to see it as, I don’t know, moral support. But not if it hates the wimmens. No, Wanted! Bad!

    MAMMA MIA! That is all.

  66. I’ve never been able to get into Pratchett, although I loved Good Omens. Should I be starting with one of his books in particular?

    I can see how Gaiman gets a little over the top angsty sometimes, but American Gods was still awesome. I read it several years ago, but I still think about various of the Coming to America vignettes here and there, like the one about the djinn driving a taxi cab in NYC.

  67. Wow. Um, I actually kind of liked Wanted. Yeah, there was no reason for the boss to be fat, when the character was intensely unlikable to begin with in her dialog and development, but I thought the rest was pretty good, even the parts some people felt were misogynistic I thought were nicely tied up by the ending, which in the interest of not being a spoiler, I will just say shows that unquestioningly shooting people to “be a man” is maybe not such a hot idea.

    Of course, I find most action movies unbearably stupid, and thought this one was going to be utterly terrible when my husband dragged me to go see it, so it’s not like I had high hopes to be dashed. And parts of it were really kind of funny. Also, Angelina Jolie is teh hawt lately.

  68. I really shouldn’t say anything about WALL-E since I haven’t seen it yet, but I have read reviews and I really think the movie is being taken the wrong way by some people.

    Earth didn’t get all screwed up because of fat people and the people who left Earth to go on what was supposed to be a temporary time away from the planet, on the ship, were of all different shapes and sizes.

    It was explained (or so I’ve heard) that time in space (700 years, to be exact) caused the humans to lose bone mass. The loss of bone has made them lose shape, and over the generations, due to bone loss, lack of gravity, etc, they had to start using the hover cars.

    Apparantly, the Computer, was programmed to take care of the people on the ship and so they were pampered, etc. I can imagine them having to eat liquid foods because in space, that would be neccessary due to limits on storage and things like crackers getting into the computers, etc.

    I really think this movie is being taken in the wrong context.

  69. I’ve never been able to get into Pratchett, although I loved Good Omens.

    Same here. Al has a bunch of Pratchett books, and I’ve tried, but… nope.

    I think a lot of it’s age. I read GO on Al’s recommendation last year, and though I quite enjoyed it, I was constantly aware that if I’d read it in high school or even college, it would have been OMG THE BEST BOOK EVAR EVAR. Things that would have blown me right the fuck away as a teenager didn’t have as much of an impact on me as a thirtysomething who’s read a hell of a lot of books since then. And I know that if I had fallen in love with that one 15 years ago, I could reread it now and get the nostalgia bonus that would make it even better. So I’m a little bummed that I didn’t.

    Anyway, GO was well worth reading for the first time in my thirties, but I think other Pratchett books might just have passed their expiry date for me.

  70. I am such a Gaiman and Pratchett fangirl! (Oddly enough, Good Omens isn’t my favorite. Although the bit about the demon’s car slowly turning every cassette put in into a Queen album still gives me giggles)

    Has anyone read Pratchett’s Maskerade? It’s one of my favorites and is his take on the Phantom of the Opera, and it’s one of the witches’ stories. I wonder how people feel about Perdita X? The main character is Agnes, a fat girl who can sing extraordinarily well, who is in tune to magic, and so has sort of taken that saying “inside every fat person is a thin one waiting to get out” literally. Hence Perdita, Agnes’ inner, thin fantasy, who can say and do things Agnes cannot. I always liked that Agnes learns to stand up for herself, but I was uneasy that it had to be done via Perdita. Thoughts?

  71. Haven’t gotten through all the comments, but as far as Disney movies with strong female leads, what about Lilo & Stitch? It’s honestly probably my favorite Disney film.

  72. I am such a Gaiman and Pratchett fangirl!

    Me too, and I’m old!

    You know, I don’t give a damn about Pixar’s intentions about Wall-E, or whether or not it really bashes fat people or merely portrays them as helpless and idiotic. I am getting very choosy about who gets my discretionary entertainment dollars and viewing time. The number of blogs/authors/film makes/television shows I’ve cut out of my life in the past two years based on fat hate and/or misogyny is amazing. I’m down to two blogs and a handful of television shows.

    I’ve had people say things to the effect of, “You can’t dismiss an artist’s whole body of work becuase of XXXX”, but you know what? I can so, and it feels pretty good.

  73. I saw WALL-E and I have to say that I did not perceive the humans as fat but as infantalized by their we-will-take-care-of-everything-for-you Buy-n-Large-created environment. Not exactly lazy either, as they were all zooming around & talking a mile-a-minute. I’d like to know if anyone else who’se seen it had the same impression as mine. The rest of your post I go along with completely

  74. Hi Aproustian! Ah, any excuse to gush over Pratchett.

    I actually liked the Perdita/Agnes thing. I think it showed quite nicely how ridiculous the thin fantasy is.

    I saw Agnes as a potentially very powerful and confident witch who simply became too used to dreaming “when I am thin I will be confident/sexy/loud/stylish/strong” to the point where she has to actually create a thin persona in order to make use of those aspects of her personality. Importantly, I think, the magically-created Perdita, when taking over Agnes’ body, doesn’t turn her temporarily thin, but just turns her into a loud and confident, if snarky, fat girl.

    But I loved how, when push came to shove (in any book with Agnes in) Agnes herself totally kicks arse. Especially in Carpe Jugulum.

  75. I just saw Wanted last night, and where I think Wall-E was kind of neutral on the subject of fat (although are audiences trained to see fat as automatically a character flaw and the filmmakers should have taken that into account since they did make an effort to not create that connection), Wanted is just a big old heap of FAT=SLOB=STUPID=AWFUL=CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

    Right from the first scene, which shows us the overweight female boss stuffing cakes and food into her mouth while the protagonist voice over ironically refers to her as ‘anorexic’, the movie makes it clear that the act of being fat allows viewers to extrapolate that fat people are also stupid, lack self control, overeat unhealthy foods, have no self control, and cannot dress or act in an age appropriate manner. Also, that being fat is not only a character flaw, but also that being fat as a young woman automatically sets a girl up for a womanhood entirely made up of being an unattractive, unappealing, sexless, joyless unloved mess.

    Also, so weird to have anorexia as a joke in a movie that Angelina Jolie is in, given that she is so skinny in this movie that her upper arms are concave where most people have muscles, and she generally looks starving to death, but very fashionably.

  76. I’ve never been able to get into Pratchett, although I loved Good Omens. Should I be starting with one of his books in particular?

    I think Thief of Time is a really good one of the Discworld series. It was one of the first ones I read, and I still like it the best. You have to giggle at the thought of the four horsemen of the apocalypse being constantly punned off of as the Beatles to enjoy it, though.

    I like Gaiman’s short stories a bit better than his novels – his latest compilation “Fragile Things” had some really nice ones in it.

  77. Oh, Pratchett. His almost last book is almost out. I hope he’s got another in him.
    I started with Guards! Guards! The whole 6’4″ redheaded Dwarf really did it for me. Since I’m named from LoTR, that book – which nods in Tolkien’s direction – was a great jumping in place.

    @Cala — Sword of +2 feminism! EXACTLY! *laughing*. That always gets under my skin. I want a girls involved in adventure movie where the range of characters is as great as the range of characters in, say, a Toy Story. I want them special in a team with each their talents. Pah.

  78. *sigh* I hope Pratchett has another couple in him too.
    I read the entire Discworld series in the order in which it was written…the first couple of Rincewind books were a bit slow for me (other than the Luggage, of course) compared to the rest of them. The witch books are still my favorite sub-series, and could probably be read independently of the rest. Speaking of, I read Perdita/Agnes the same way that Bunny did. :)

  79. I have to agree with Lee on this. I just came back from watching Wall-E, and it didn’t seem fat-phobic to me. It *is* explained right in the film.

    Yes, I suppose I could see how kids wouldn’t understand and all the other arguments, but, personally, I’d see it as more fat-phobic if it wasn’t *all* of the humans that were fat.

    *shrug* I know I’ll be in the minority with my opinion, but I just can’t say the movie is a horror show of fat phobia. I’ve seen movies that deserve much more trashing about fat phobia than this one.

  80. Pratchett! Yay! I like the witches sub-series almost as much as the Vimes arc, but for my money Agnes/Perdita X isn’t as body positive as Nanny Ogg, the short, round, dirty-minded, hedonistic old woman who is still getting action (with the world’s second-greatest lover, the dwarf Casanunda) and sings the best songs when she’s drunk (someday when I’ve got nothing better to do, I’m going to make up some verses, and the chorus, for “The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered”).

    Let us not forget about Lady Sybil, though! I have very distinct pictures in my mind of both Lady Sybil and Sam Vimes, and it gave me this warm little glow back at the end of The Fifth Elephant, imagining them (big Sybil and little Sam) procreating. Yay for big girls and little boys! And Young Sam, of course.

  81. To be honest, from all the reviews I’ve read so far I just can’t imagine how they could have avoided making the humans look fat. It seems to be a logical consequence if that stuff about bone loss is true. Also, why not? They’re probably more comfortable in the hover chairs than boneless thin people would have been. And definitely better than jelly blobs with eyes. I also like that they all look more or less the same – except for the racial differences of course, which is the only aspect that I disagree with. I might watch it if the local cinema ever decides to show it.

  82. Oh, and Good Omens is one of my favourite books, too. I love Neil Gaiman in general, but the sheer amount of Pratchett books out there has sort of turned me off them since I have no idea where to start and I’m afraid that if I ever read one, I’d want all the other as well and that would get very expensive.

  83. Why is there bone loss, though? Why the microgravity handwaving? Wall-E and Eve move in exactly the same way on earth as they do on the Axiom. The NASA issue has to do with zero-gravity environments, not fake-gravity. There was no reason for them to be fat, boneless blobs.

    Kate, thanks for linking this article. I actually posted it on my personal livejournal in hopes that some of my friends will read it and maybe get why I am upset by this movie.

  84. Nomie, there’s a similar, if slower, loss observed with partial gravity (See NASA’s Mars Gravity Biosatellite); and a lot of speculation that anything other than EXACT surface-of-the-Earth gravity would produce significant bone density deterioration (there’s some interesting research with high-altitude and frequent-flyer populations).

    Rationalizing WALL-E’s aesthetic choice of blob-people with that data is probably about as convincing as rationalizing Star Trek’s pseudoscientific warp drive with putative LHC research; but bone loss in WALL-E’s artificial gravity is not unreasonable. Wrong in many senses of the word, perhaps (uncalled for, sketchy, a stretch, a blind, a rationalization); but not unreasonable.

  85. Aw man, I leave and it becomes a Terry Pratchett love fest! *strokes her entire Discworld collection*

  86. Terry Pratchett writes female characters such that they’re real people, and you aren’t constantly being clobbered over the head with LOOK ITS A GURL. This alone makes him orders of magnitude better than most fantasy writers.

    Anyone mentioned “Monstrous Regiment” yet? So many awesome characters there. (Sergeant Jackrum FTW.)

  87. octopod – I was reading this whole comment thread thinking “Is nobody going to mention Monstrous Regiment? I’m going to, if they don’t.”

    I like Terry Pratchett in spurts – I’ll read two or three books in a row, and then be tired of him for a while – but I have endless love for Monstrous Regiment.

  88. “…I don’t assume fat people can’t be anorexic?”

    actually… you can be heavy and have an eating disorder, but technically you can’t be overweight and anorexic. one of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia is life-threatening weight loss: “refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (eg, weight loss leading to maintenance of body weight less than 85% of that expected…).”

    and yeah, we can argue about what a “minimally normal weight” is, but i think the intent is pretty clear. i think it’s to separate cases of disordered eating based on whether physical health is severely compromised, because that has an effect on treatment.

  89. Commenting on an old thread, which is annoying I know, but I canot help it… I think it’s actually the Bursar in Reaper Man who thinks he’s anorexic because he sees a fat man in the mirror. Who is actually the Archchancellor, shouting at him.

    Archcahncellor Ridcully is actually a good fat-positive character, because he’s a fat person who is very active.

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