The Negative Stereotypes Of Obesity In Film And TV Need To Stop

The Negative Stereotypes Of Obesity In Film And TV Need To Stop

One's weight issues are a personal problem, don't make it yours.

Health problems, especially anything physically unappealing, are often portrayed negatively in the media. Obesity or being overweight especially, has been a staple of TV and movie jokes for the longest time. Although it could be funny, it doesn’t make it right.

In television, any negative depiction of obesity is highly exaggerated through cartoons, which sends the wrong images of anyone obese, especially to younger audiences, making more people subtly gain harsh feelings and images towards people who are obese. Peter Griffin from "Family Guy" is a prime example; he is the main character who is also fat and “coincidentally” stupid in comparison to his family members and friends, always getting himself into problems he tends to be the cause for.

In the episode titled “The Fat-Guy Strangler,” Peter is told by his doctor that he is fat and refuses to believe it. When his dog Brian tells him the same, he demands proof. Thus, Brian tells him to stand still as he places objects near his stomach, watching them float, telling Peter he is so fat he has his own orbit. This is a clear exaggeration of excessive weight as it provides humor but also a leeway to ridicule real world people who are overweight or obese. Although the show is not meant for children, it is seen by them. Yet, even actual children’s programs or movies communicate negative messages about being overweight.

In older films such as "The Nutty Professor," "Shallow Hal," and "Just Friends," the main or supporting actors (Eddie Murphy, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ryan Reynolds, respectively) put on fat-suits in order to play their roles as morbidly obese characters. They go through certain obstacles due to their weight and stature such as feeling bitter and depressed, being mocked by those around them, being unable to attain the woman or man they are chasing after (or simply want to be with), and mostly go through the film as an inferior to those more physically than them.

This weight discrimination becomes a primary factor against the main character and puts a damper on their lives, causing them to be ridiculed. As a result, it causes obese people to go through the same segregation because of these correlations created in the eyes of the audience. In addition, for the film "Shallow Hal," Jack Black plays a shallow man who begins dating a large woman (Paltrow), but only after an accident that makes him believe she is a thinner, more attractive woman. Everyone around him finds it ridiculous that he is dating her and even she thinks his politeness is flawed because she does not think she is as beautiful as he describes her to be.

The stereotype of overweight or obese people is amplified in some cases of modern films, such as Dudley in the Harry Potter series. Rather than being ridiculed for his personal unattainable goals because he is not the primary character, he is instead shown to be ignorant, stupid and his joy comes from bullying Harry. However, this is only possible because his parents side with him, and his cousin is unable to fight back without revealing that he is a wizard. This stereotype has spread from film to the television industry.

This “bully” type character has also been used in gimmicks that create this “bad guy” image with bigger people in the world of wrestling. In the WWE, there have always been large, heavy wrestlers who just so have happened to play “heels” and make the audience hate them. Wrestlers such as Andre the Giant in the 80s and early 90s, the Big Show, King Kong Bundy, Viscera, Mark Henry, were and still are individuals in the wrestling industry that have weighed at least 400 pounds (Andre weighed 525 pounds and the Big Show weighed 500 at one point, for example). All played the evil character for most of their career; although strong and able to beat most of their competitors, the men were made to be hated by fans.

In addition, they were never seen as the face of the company. It was the more aesthetically pleasing people like John Cena, who despite not having a great in-ring ability (despite being more mobile), is advertised as the best. He is also given more opportunities outside of the industry in terms of movies and interviews.

Moreover, in the TV sitcom "Friends" for example, 'Fat Monica' is the depiction of how the character Monica, who is usually seen as adorable and lovable in her regular, thin size would look and act if she gained weight. In this “form,” she is portrayed as pathetic and unable to stop eating, further enforcing the stereotypes people place on obese and overweight people.

Most of these examples seem rather old, but this hasn’t exactly changed and it needs to. We need less TLC shows about people who weigh 600 lbs, or movies straight up hating on characters for their weight alone. We need to equally embrace or analyze without giving immediate disadvantages because of someone being bigger. That’s not to say, love every person who is overweight, but give them a chance before rejecting them or develop their character like in "Superbad" or "Moneyball," where Jonah Hill plays awesome and humorous characters, while still showing he’s big. There are a lot of wonderful personalities in those who may be overweight or obese, and that should always be put in the limelight, just like it should be with everyone else.

Cover Image Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

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Childish Gambino Inspired Me To Be More Creative In A World Of Copycats

There's more to being creative than just being average. Take a journey with the man behind "Redbone".

Donald Glover, Donny G, Lando Calrissian, Troy Barnes, Earn...Childish Gambino, essentially. One of the most talented people in the world today, I have been a massive fan of his since his 2013 album because the internet. His efforts as a rapper, director, actor, writer, and even producer have been incredibly successful since his time as a writer for 30 Rock and eventually starring in Community. As a major fan of his music, too, I can say his style and flow have been one of my major influences on my own career as I try to make it in this business.

The point I'm trying to make is that Donald Glover's creative mind both on screen and on air have given me ideas on how to be unique in a world that is trying to copy each other in order to be just as successful. Shows like Nashville, Empire, and Power are somewhat the same when it comes to stories in the music business. However, a show like Atlanta takes a different approach that makes it more of a dramatic comedy series about the ills and successes of being a rapper. An album like "Awaken, My Love!" is something that not a lot of artists are able to do, especially given the '70s-soul/funk vibe it gives off in a world of country and traphouse music.

Regardless, Childish Gambino is a man of many talents, and his ability to maintain that kind of responsibility in this crazy world of entertainment is powerfully inspiring. You can say this is a fanboy-type of an article, where I ramble on about why he's the greatest artist of all time or he can beat any other rapper in a rap battle, but the message is clear: this man inspired me to be creatively unique in a world of copycats.

Atlanta's concept is beyond the typical TV show

The second season of Atlanta premiered a few weeks ago, and its premise is still unraveling. The direction of characters like Darius and Paper Boi also pinpoints the way the show is revolving around three main characters rather than Glover's. Atlanta 's entire concept of making it big in the rap game, as well as a unique look into everyday life in the capital of Georgia, is not something you see on TV regularly. No other show has the crisp dialogue or music background like Atlanta, and Glover's vision of this show is entirely unique rather than following Empire or Nashville.

His music is on another level that evolved over time

As an avid fan of music, Gambino's evolution as this tongue-in-cheek rapper who then became attached to this new sound of neo-funk and electronic has been an... interesting journey. When his song "Freaks and Geeks" became popular in 2011, many thought he'd be mediocre as a rapper since he was already a star on Community. However, when his first album Camp came out, many were surprised by his change of tune in making it a story-like album. It continued in because the internet, where a sci-fi type of atmosphere was heard. Songs like "3005" referred back to his (childish) style of lyricism, although deeper tracks like "ii. Shadows" and "iii.Urn" highlighted a softer side of Gambino.

Many call because the internet a very interesting album from an artist like Gambino, but I remember listening to it all high school on because of how unique the instrumentals and lyrics were. A cut off of the album, "What Kind Of Love", kept me intrigued by his style since I saw him as an all-around artist and not strictly a rapper.

(YouTube: HobofulBagel)

We don't see Jay-Z doing this, we don't even see a talent like Kendrick Lamar doing this. Chance the Rapper might have something similar, who has worked with Gambino before, but it's Childish Gambino that can make a song feel more than a song: it's a testament to the message he wants to send. The only thing is that we don't know what that message is...and I don't think we ever will.

Being weird can get you far in this business

There are rumors that Gambino hasn't taken a shower in years, or that he's secretly an alien sent to screw us all up. I don't believe them one bit, except for the one that he might possibly be the next savior of entertainment. His characters in Community and Atlanta come across as complicated beings going through an existential crisis or something, yet that could just be Glover's personality attaching itself to the character. Whether portraying a zany football protege or a broke manager living in Atlanta, Glover has put on some amazing performances. Even roles in The Martian and a cameo in the latest Spider-Man film have made Glover a very interesting performer.

Either way, Glover has made some interesting moments for his characters, and his sense of humor can be seen as different, odd: weird, as we say. His first-ever stand-up special was called Weirdo. But, in a good way, this kind of weird has made him more unique. It opens a door to anyone, not just me, that we can be different if we want to make it in this business. Don't be a copycat. It will only make you apart of a string of similarities.

Overall, Childish Gambino's talent as a comedian, musician, actor, director, and producer can start and end conversations. As a creative genius, though, that is an open-ended conversation. You can have your opinions about him, good or bad. As an artist, though, I feel like I can take something from that in order to be just as different, and just as weird. Thank you, Donald Glover, and I hope one day you and Levar Burton can make a Reading Rainbow reboot.

Wrote a note on the glass:

"You see what these labels do to me?"

Texts said, "I'm wet"; I said, "Hold up, wait a minute"

H20 plus my D, that's my hood, I'm living in it

Never forget this feeling, never gonna reach a million

Eventually all my followers realize they don't need a leader

- "iii. Life: The Biggest Troll [Andrew Auernheimer]"

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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3 Novels to Read on a Rainy Day

We all have days where we feel like there's a dark, stormy cloud overhead.

We all have days where we feel like there's a dark, stormy cloud overhead. Sometimes, this mood can be caused by the moody, dreary weather. It's on these days I prefer curling up with a thought-provoking, heartwrenching book to distract myself from my thoughts and the weather. Below is a list of books (in no particular order) to read during slow-paced, rainy days.

1. The Art of Starving by Sam Miller

This book came under my radar when I saw it was reviewed by Roxanne Gay, author of "Bad Feminist" and "Hunger." It follows the story of a gay, bullied teen who develops an eating disorder and is under the impression that starving himself gives him superpowers. To me, this feels like it will be a difficult novel to get through but also a book I'll need to devour in one sitting.

2. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh

Being a huge fan of diverse stories and Asian literature, I've been keeping an eye out on this book for a while. This book is a collection of East and South Asian folklore and mythologies reimagined by fifteen bestselling authors. These authors include Cindy Pon, Renée Ahdieh, Julie Kagawa, and more! It won't be out until the summer of 2018, but it's something to look out for.

3. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

While contemporary romance isn't my usual go-to genre for reading, there's something about rainy days that makes these types of novels more appealing. "Emergency Contact" follows the story of two people, a girl named Penny who is looking for a new beginning and discovery in college, and a boy named Sam who is stuck at a crappy job and living situation, trying to figure out how to work his way toward his dreams. After they meet and swap numbers, their relationship over texting develops and inspires them. I'm confident that this story is going to be heartwarming and entertaining.

Cover Image Credit: Robert Couse-Baker On Flickr

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