Appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator

I have never been a big David Letterman fan. I never actively disliked him, and even enjoy some of his top ten but by and large he has not been my cup of tea. For whatever reason the last couple of weeks I have found myself watching late at night while I sit on the computer. I think my land lady and I just keep it on for background noise while we do other things. The foibles of Chris Christie have quite justifiably made their way into his material. So how does Dave handle it? Does he give us scathing satire exposing Christie as a bully? Does he capture the essence, through humor, of what it must be like for residents of New Jersey to live under the watchful eye of such a vindictive man?

Nah, he just makes with the fat jokes. He, and others, daily make comments about Christie’s size and appetite. It pisses me off because it forces me to sympathize with a man I loathe, because these jokes target not just the New Jersey Governor, but every other obese American. They mock many of Christie’s victims. They mock single mothers in the mid-west. They mock school teachers in the north-east. They mock social workers in southern California, and they mock pastors in Texas. In short, they belittle so many of our fellow Americans. Dave is not alone in this. I found this little beauty on Facebook:


To be fair, this was not created by Joe Rogan. Someone took his words and the words of a woefully misguided woman who yes, is fat, and had their fun with it. I may be mistaken but I do not think this is what Rogan was getting at. I think, and welcome him to correct me if he ever reads this, he was trying to point out that the fact that something is addictive does not necessarily mean it is bad. But hey, we don’t like Nancy Grace, and she’s fat, and she said something we don’t like either, oh, and did I mention she’s fat?

What really burns me about all this is the fact that it is the same segment of our society that condemns advertisers for creating an impossible standard of beauty that seems quite comfortable with this fat-shaming. The hypocrisy makes me physically ill. We celebrate Jennifer Lawrence for rejecting manufactured notions of attractiveness and for reinforcing them when she throws in her own two cents regarding Chris Christie.

I can kind of kid it. Corpulence, on the face of it, to the willfully ignorant, would seem a sign of excess and access to wealth. We think that it is strictly a matter of choice and anyone who “lets” themselves get fat somehow deserves derision. There exists, beyond the Nancy Graces and Chris Christies, huge swaths of our population who merely fell into bad habits, or who are forced by geography and income into high fat, high salt diets, or who have learned that eating is a source of solace for them, the one thing they can control. Many of these people already do a pretty good job beating themselves up, but hey, let’s pile it on, because they somehow deserve the shame.

There are also people who are quite comfortable being larger. People who are happy in their daily lives, whatever those lives are, who have for years stood up to this constant barrage of disgust aimed at them. They have stood up for years to magazines telling them they need to be different, to “well-meaning” friends and family members, and to a health care institutions to lazy to actually take their heart rate and blood pressure into account, so they create BMI as a quick guide to how to charge people for insurance becuase correlation is apparently causation, at least if you are fat.

I have ranted about this sort of thing before. Somehow, within our so-called progressive communities, people refuse to acknowledge their privilege when it comes to gender, sexuality, race, or class. I have seen problematic behavior by so many of those who claim to fight on the side of justice. None of it is as juvenile and pathetic as these incidents of fat-shaming. They carpet bomb opponent and ally alike, and expose, I think, a sad human trait of needing someone to kick, because someone needs to fill that role in any society I suppose.


One thought on “Appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator

  1. Good points all. When one has an adversary, I believe it is critical to the cause to be a better person than your adversary. As a NJ resident, I have plenty of problems with our governor, but his physical appearance is not one of them, nor should it enter into any discussion about policy, power, leadership, or social justice.

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