Fat Slobs Scoring Hot Babes

Found this on E!Online, about why quality shows get cancelled while rubbish lives for years:

http://www.eonline.com/gossip/answer/?uuid=61c8e8c5-9ae8-4963-9c49-171a52f10181

My favorite part is this:

The sitcom genre of Tedious Lardass with Inexplicably Hot Wife has a long and illustrious history in this country, and I will not abide your utterly un-American attacks upon it…not when King of Queens just got canceled, dammit.

Overstuffed American men just lost another aid in their pathetic fantasies of bagging a sylphlike babe. Let them mourn in dignity.

(And yes, the writer seems to be being sarcastic.)

The whole article isn’t strictly related to Hathor, but that bit sums up a lot of our gripes – the sheer fantasy that fat, lazy slobs can score babes with no effort whatsoever and so by extension, fat, lazy slobs in real life can wolf-whistle and harrass good-looking women without realising that they are repulsive and that real-life babe will have nothing to do with them.

And on a mainstream entertainment site, too!

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    And yet, not one show ever in the history of TV panders to the fantasies of overweight women scoring inexplicably hot husbands.

  2. scarlett says

    Actually, I’ve seen an ad campaign to that effect, where a middle-aged woman dreams of romping on the beach with some twentysomething stud while her fat, middle-aged husband snores away soundly.
    OK, so it was only a fantasy sequences, but it still demonstrated that women fantasises about having hot young things to play with, too. But you’re right – the only scenarios I can think of where you have a woman dating/married to a significantly younger, lighter and more good-looking man is when it’s a drama, and the emphasis is on such a shocking thing happening.

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    That’s almost even worse. It acknowledges that women fantasize about having mates who look better than they do, but reinforces the idea that all these middle-aged women deserve is some fat snoring husband.

    Showing LardAss being adored by his Supermodel wife reinforces the idea that men can land mates who are better-looking than they are because they have more to offer than looks… whereas the women are nothing but the sum of their good physical features.

  4. Maartje says

    Gah, even the term ‘scoring’ repulses me. Objectify much? I’m still innocent enough to believe that most marriages are made between people who love and respect each other. Not by one person who likes the look of the other one, with the other one having no say in the matter. ‘Cause that’s what it comes down to when ‘Hotness’ is the only criterium- No wait, I lie, Hotness and compliance. They should just get a blow-up doll and get it over with. Lighter to have hanging off your arm too.

  5. scarlett says

    There’s a throwaway line from the last episode on season 2 of House, where he sees a hot woman who’s married to a morbidly obese man and says something about looks marrying looks – 3’s marry 3’s, 7’s marry 7’s, 10’s marry 10’s. I think there’s a fair amount of truth there. In real life, I know a few couples where the female is noticeably better-looking then the male, but in a 6-and-9 way, not a fat-slob-and-supermodel way. I think that fantasy is just, well, sheer fantasy, and it’s especially galling that producers don’t realise the fantasy oesn’t work both ways.

  6. Lex says

    I’m wholly uncomfortable with this discussion, because it accepts the premise that attraction is based on looks. That anyone who is overweight, be they male or female, can in no way attract someone who is not overweight. I’m absolutely sure there is some element of male ego in the idea of these shows, yet it happens frequently enough in real life as to be not a surprise when it’s shown on television.

    There is a real issue out there in the world with women not being seen as equals to men. But bloody hell, I’ve had a far worse time of it being overweight in this Western culture than I’ve ever had because I’m female. Please let’s not argue for equality between men and women on this site only to perpetuate other bad thinking. The way people look down their noses at the overweight is nasty. I’m seeing some out and out bigotry here, and I’m quite shocked by that.

    Just to be clear: fat does not equal repulsive. Fat does not equal lazy. Fat does not equal slob.

  7. Lex says

    Exactly why is it a fantasy for an overweight woman to ‘score’ a hot husband? Is the world that you’ve experienced really such a shallow place that this is wholly unbelievable to you?

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    Lex, to me the problem here is that we never see this paradigm reversed. We never see an overweight or ordinary-looking woman with a stunning-looking husband. If we did see it both ways, I think it WOULD put across the message that both men AND women are capable of valuing other things more than looks. And I have seen some good-looking men with some less good-looking women as girlfriends or wives, so both versions of the paradigm do happen in reality.

    As it stands now, the message I’m getting from shows like King of Queens is that women can see beyond a man’s looks to recognize his value as a mate, but men are incapable of recognizing a beautiful female soul unless it comes in a hot female package. I think THAT is the negative message that concerns me. It’s actually a put-down of men, and the male ability to appreciate a woman, rather than just her body.

    And no, fat does not equal repulsive or slobbish, and that’s a stereotype that I agree needs to go away. But in the cases of most of these sitcoms, the “fat” husbands ARE portrayed as boorish, oafish, stupid, lazy or slobbish… but entitled to a model who works hard to meet insane beauty standards. There are so many negative messages going on there that I’m not sure where to start.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    I certainly think overweight and ordinary-looking women are as entitled to stunning husbands as anyone else. What I’m really saying there is that I hope people look at a WHOLE lot more than looks when they evaluate a mate… but maybe they don’t and that’s part of our 52% divorce rate in the US.

    I don’t think Scarlett meant to imply otherwise, FWIW, but I’ll let her speak for herself there. I thought she was disappointed that we can’t have some ordinary-looking and/or overweight women with hot husbands to balance out the King of Queens type sitcoms.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    Lex,

    One more thing. I’d like to apologize to you for remarks on this thread offending you. And to let you know your comments have prompted some discussion behind the scenes among us authors, because we think you have a good point. A few months ago, we somewhat banned the use of terms like “bitch” and “whore” on this site because we decided they’re just too laden with misogynistic undertones to do more good than harm.

    Similarly, we’re going to discuss how we talk about weight issues. The words we use and the concepts we impart. To me, it’s not that a “fat” man doesn’t “deserve” a hot wife; it’s that we’re being told men can put no effort into appearance and still expect wonderful, loving and stunning-looking wives, but women need to look like that guy’s wife on the show to have any hope of finding love. Let me know if you find that a better way to express the issue.

    I definitely agree with you that we need to be clearer about our disagreement with stereotypes, or else we’re just reinforcing them. Sometimes the “meta” discussion requires that we take the stereotype at face value for the purpose of discussion. But that simply wasn’t made clear here.

    One last thing. I don’t know why I’m not more sensitive to this issue. I’ve never been slim, and because I’m short and curvy I’ve always been made to feel (and called) “fat” even when I was well within a healthy weight range. I think my way of dealing was to just ignore to the “fat” talk. I need to work on that.

  11. scarlett says

    I’m certainly not saying that fat means lazy and repulsive. I’m looking at King of Queens and According to Jim stereotypes, and going back to Married with Children in particular, that you got men who were quite average-looking, often treated their wives quite condesendingly, and for some unknown reason had complete stunners for wives, with the patients of saints.
    In real life, I know plenty of people where one partner is a fair bit better looking then the other – in one case, a male friend who is deeply insightful and calming with above-average looks is dating (and devoted to) an absolute stunner. You can see within five minute why someone like him could someone with supermodel looks. But I’ve never seen on these shows why someone as beautiful would be dating someone very average looking who doesn’t even treat her well.
    The other issue I have is that you never see this trend in reverse – a plain and/or overweight woman with a stunning man. The whole thing comes across to me as male producers saying ‘men can be married to women loads more attractive then them and not treat them with any respect but still have their devotio’ and everyonhe accepts this because men have that kind of entitlement – to something better then they are, I guess, in both looks, personality and devotion – but of course women aren’t.

  12. Lex says

    Actually you do see this in reverse on television. A classic example is the Vicar of Dibley. There are various other examples, both in life and on television.

    Again, you’re talking as if ‘attractive’ equates to ‘physically attractive according to a specific person’s definition of it’. It doesn’t. At least, it doesn’t in my world. Taking a sci-fi example from Stargate Atlantis, David Hewlett is sex-on-a-stick. Why? Personality.

    I think the issue here is that people are somehow bought into this idea that it’s all about looks. Now you’re saying it’s something to do with behaviour as well. I think this issue is far more complex than it’s being shown here, and there are presumptions being made and accepted that are offensive.

  13. Lex says

    I don’t think any discussion we have here means we should take the stereotype at face value. I think this place is about delving into those stereotypes and finding out what’s going on underneath.

    With regard to how the issue you mentioned should be expressed, I think you’re missing the point even though you’re actually making it. The underlying problem is how women are presented on television, how women are encouraged to look in western society, and how women are always referred back to looks as if they are more important than anything else. And worse, that women are buying into that kind of crap. Once women can be just ‘how they come’ to the extent men are, then we’ll be getting somewhere. It’s not about who deserves what, or who should attract whom, it’s a far deeper problem and accepting stereotypes just to have a discussion is not going to help that discussion in any way.

    With these shows we’re not being told that men can expect anything, rather that the people who make the show are incredibly limited in their thinking.

  14. Lex says

    And again, the point is being missed. Why is being fat a demonstration that someone isn’t meeting a standard? Why is a fat man assumed to be less attractive than a skinny man? Who has made that assumption? At the moment, it’s you who is making that assumption. A person’s behaviour is what makes them unattractive to me – in this case you speak of the person being boorish and slobbish. Yes, those things would mean I wouldn’t find someone attractive irrespective of weight, looks, hair colour, skin colour or anything else. But again, being boorish and slobbish are not connected to being overweight.

    I realise you are trying to get past some ingrained thinking (and believe me, it’s ingrained across the world), but to achieve that it means challenging every damn thought for a while. We’re all quite prepared to make that challenge on this site when it comes to accepted views on women; we should be prepared to make that challenge in other areas or I think we’re just missing the point.

  15. scarlett says

    Arg, I had this fantastic apology written out and I forgot to put my name and email adress in before I sent it, so I lost it!

    Basically, Lex, I suffer from invisible privlidge of being a tall, slim, blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-complexioned woman and sometimes I can be insensitive to offense people take in regard to things like weight and skin colour. I actually saw a movie today where a slim woman criticises a bigger women for complaining about their dresses and wigs – if it’s good enough for the slim woman (which it was deisgned for) why isn’t it good enough for the curvy woman? It made me cringe a little, because I’ve commited that kind of insensitivy from time to time myself :(

    I don’t equate ‘overweight’ with ‘unattractive’. The problem I have with these shows is that the men take no pride in their appearance – wearing unflattering clothes, taking pride in their beer guts, thinking farting and burping is endlessly amusing, talking down to their wives and girlfriends. It’s a general lack of respect for themselves and their loved ones. And in the meantime, they have beautiful wives and girlfriends who obviously DO take pride in their bodies and adore their men, even though they treat them disrespectfully. I’ve rarely seen it in real life where a beautiful woman who takes a lot of pride in her appearance is with a man who takes none in his, and talks down to her and generally treats her disrespectfully.

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clearer about this, I hope this has clarified things a little.

  16. scarlett says

    And yes, I find David Hewlett absolutely hot, and don’t see why women could find Joe Finigan (or rather, the characeter of John Sheppard, who I find glib and full of himself while the writers try to promote this as a GOOD thing) that drool-worthy. I honestly got the feeling that, once you take away his hero-worship of Carter, McKay treated women with a lot more respect then Sheppard did. Which kinda sorta relates to the point I’m making about us being spoon-fed this idea that a man can treat women direspectfully, and still have stunners falling at his feet.

  17. Lex says

    Agreed – I find the character of John Sheppard utterly unattractive. The external look is something that Western culture would likely identify as attractive (not my type, but objectively he fits a mould), but the character turns me off completely. McKay, obnoxious as he can be, is completely honest and cannot hide his feelings – I really like that in a person.

    If the discussion is about respect, and not about looks, then that’s a discussion I can have with no problem. I truly believe respect is earned, not an automatic right coming from someone who has (or believes they have) power. However, I think everyone deserves politeness and a certain level of consideration.

  18. Lex says

    Thank you for this, Scarlett. I’m sure most people suffer from some kind of invisible privilege, whatever form it takes. Mine is impatience with what I see as stupidity out there in the world or with people I interact with, and I’m sure that has caused me to make assumptions I shouldn’t.

    Having said that, I’d like to point out that you’re making assumptions again. The underlying assumption is that people should take pride in their bodies. I’ve never taken pride in mine – I’ve never fitted into the mould of Western skinny attractiveness – and because of the nastiness and rudeness and insults I’ve had ever since I was a child even if I woke up one morning looking like you my self-view would still be of the overweight child being called names. What could there possibly be to take pride in? I take pride in my achievements, in my creative mind, in the fact that I have a lot of wonderful people I call good friends, in my family, and so on. Me being overweight has nothing to do with pride in myself, and the clothes I wear are about being comfortable while sticking to the rules of the environment I’m in (for example, I work in a smart office environment).

    What my experience has taught me is that this idea that what someone wears or how they look *should* be connected with their self-respect is a shallow concept perpetuated by those who don’t want to look any deeper, and I tend to stop spending time with those people. If, however, someone wants their fitness to be their priority or wants to spend time and money on clothes or haircuts or putting on make-up because that’s what makes them feel confident or happy or they happen to really like clothes, then great – go for it. But any comments about people needing to take pride in their appearance are to me just pandering to ongoing bad thinking that we should be stamping out. It doesn’t matter what I wear, it really doesn’t. If I’m healthy, happy and comfortable in myself, who the heck out there has the right to talk about ‘pride’? If someone gets upset if I don’t wear clothes that flatter me, that’s truly not my problem.

    Just to throw something else into the mix, I’ve recently been studying personality typing – Myers Briggs. It’s been highly accurate with me, and has helped me deal with people in business by understanding personality types. Apparently my personality type says I’m far more interested in ideas and thinking than in looks and clothes. Colour me completely unsurprised.

    Hmm, I’m getting close to a rant. I have very strong feelings on this issue.

  19. scarlett says

    Haha, you want to hear a rant, wait until someone starts picking on journalists as parasitical paparazzi , THEN you’ll get a rant :p

    I see where you’re coming from in regards to not caring about your appearance. You talk about being healthy and happy, and these men don’t look particularly healthy. Such shows come across to me as men who have nothing better to do with their time but sit on the couch, watching football and drinking beer. They don’t seem to care about their bodies, they don’t seem to care about their health, so what are women who care about both doing with them? (Especially since, again, that lack of respect comes into play.) The shows never go into whatever traits these men might have that makes women devote to them, just their apathy – I don’t find anything attractive about a man veging out on the couch day in, day out. It says to me ‘you TOO can veg out on the couch day in, day out, and have someone hot to take care of you’. On top of that, it’s always MEN who have women to take care of them, not the other way around.

  20. Jennifer Kesler says

    A classic example is the Vicar of Dibley.

    Which did not air in the US, and you have to have heard of it to go out and find the DVD’s. I’m sure American studios didn’t feel it would go over like King of Queens did with American audiences, because they think no one could find Dawn French attractive, due to her weight. (I think a lot of Americans would adore her, but we’ll never have a chance to find out until the studios stop judging us as shallow, and thereby perpetuating the very problem you’re talking about.)

    There are various other examples, both in life and on television.

    I’m sorry, but I still haven’t managed to think of one on major American networks, syndicated to the whole world. WE are the ones creating the problem so if WE are not putting out the opposite message, then the opposite message is not getting equal time.

    I think the issue here is that people are somehow bought into this idea that it’s all about looks.

    I think it’s that the people who decide what to put on American TV have bought into the idea that it’s all about looks. When I worked in film, it was a given that people didn’t want to watch “ugly” women on film. Period. I once said to someone, “I guess ‘ugly’ includes non-white women, too, since you so rarely give them lead roles in shows.” The prejudice in the industry is so hardened, so unrelenting. And it has the effect of forcing its prejudices onto the audience in a sense – not because we have to buy into its prejudices, but because we can’t demonstrate our true feelings by watching something that reflects our view of the world… because it isn’t made available.

  21. Lex says

    I didn’t realise this site was restricted to only US shows. Since I know very little about US television and cannot comment on it, I’ll have to bow out of the discussions. There’s obviously nothing relevant I can add from my experience of UK television.

  22. Jennifer Kesler says

    First of all, let me acknowledge again that the language used in this post is not going to be used anymore and was a mistake. SBG made a similar post about King of Queens which did not spawn a discussion like this, simply because she made it clear that her ONLY problem with this was that she wasn’t seeing the paradigm reversed.

    Why is being fat a demonstration that someone isn’t meeting a standard? Why is a fat man assumed to be less attractive than a skinny man? Who has made that assumption?

    The people who decide what selection of shows I will get each fall. I’m trying to address THEIR assumptions, which I don’t share in the slightest. Let me try to break this down to its most elemental.

    The studios live to serve the male audience. They believe men only want to see “hot” women (which they define as white, skinny, Barbie-like, rather than basing it on the wide range of physical features men actually like). They believe men like to look at more ordinary-looking men (defined, again, as men who deviate from the male beauty standard of Brad Pitt and his ilk, NOT the wide range of men anyone might find “ordinary-looking” which actually includes Brad Pitt, because a lot of people don’t see what’s the big deal about his looks) so they don’t feel threatened by a good-looking man.

    Shew. So many wrong assumptions, and only now have we gotten to the studio’s other major wrong assumption: that it’s all about looks. This is patently false and they know it – neither Roseanne nor Dan Connor fit any Brad/Angelina sort of beauty standard. And yet they had a very successful show. Why? Great characters, great writing. Personally, I found Dan’s sweetness and patience to be a bit of an aphrodesiac, but I think by and large that show proved that people do NOT watch TV strictly to be turned on by the actors. We watch for a variety of reasons. The TV industry doesn’t want to face that because casting Yet Another Skinny White Woman is a lot easier than “good writing, good characters”.

    I seriously doubt the people who make Atlantis will ever fully acknowledge that McKay is sexier than Sheppard, because their livelihoods depend on them buying into the philosophies of the film industry, which include the errant assumption that military types are more attractive to women than smart guys. I mean, they never really acknowledged how drool-worthy Daniel was to women on SG-1 – they always went on about RDA, and when he left, it was all about Ben Browder. Because they simply will not accept information that contradicts their assumption, even when it’s so obvious that many, many women find Daniel and McKay far sexier than the other lead males. And the sad thing, IMO, was that the audience played right into the studio’s assumptions in one area: I can’t really recall ever seeing any fans talk about how good-looking or sexy Christopher Judge is. I think the man is just ridiculously beautiful as Teal’c, and a VERY good actor who can do so much with so little material, really.

  23. Jennifer Kesler says

    Lex, I’ve sort of been waiting for this issue to come up for a while. Pride of appearance is such a thorny issue – multi-layered.

    (1) There’s an assumption in our society that you should try to look “nice” – well-groomed, well-tended clothes in good repair that fit, cleanliness. I guess I agree with that, but I think from your description you would fall into that parameter easily.

    (2) There’s a more negative assumption that people who look “nicer” get farther in life, and that’s basic human nature, so we should just accept it. I disagree. Promotions should not be handed out on that basis. Mates should not be selected on that basis. Etc.

    (3) There’s yet another assumption, that women should try to look better than nice to get ANYWHERE in this world, but men need only look half-way presentable to become major CEO’s or politicians or whatever. The solution here is to equalize the beauty standard for men and women; I feel it should be equalized by lowering it for women to what it already is for men.

  24. sbg says

    (1) There’s an assumption in our society that you should try to look “nice” – well-groomed, well-tended clothes in good repair that fit, cleanliness. I guess I agree with that, but I think from your description you would fall into that parameter easily.

    Every time I see the idiots on WNTW telling (usually) a woman she should dress up a bit more to run to the grocery store or various errands I laugh. Who the heck cares what you look like at the grocery store? People are supposed to be selecting their food purchases, not critiquing others’ appearances.

    I caught a bit of “Take Home Chef” the other night, during which the chef guy wrapped up the show by reminding (all women – he apparently never snags a man to take home and cook dinner with) everyone that “You never know who you’ll run into, so dress up!” Never mind that he snagged the woman, got the groceries…and when she got home she immediately dolled up to do the food preparation. Er. “Hold on, I can’t make this rack o’ lamb without a string of pearls on!”

    I digressed. ;)

  25. SunlessNick says

    Perhaps they consider it a slippery slope: if intelligent men can be attractive, particularly if it’s because of their intelligence, how long before someone comes up with the thought that intelligent women might be as well.

  26. MaggieCat says

    I caught a bit of “Take Home Chef” the other night, during which the chef guy wrapped up the show by reminding (all women – he apparently never snags a man to take home and cook dinner with) everyone that “You never know who you’ll run into, so dress up!” Never mind that he snagged the woman, got the groceries…and when she got home she immediately dolled up to do the food preparation. Er. “Hold on, I can’t make this rack o’ lamb without a string of pearls on!”

    Ohhhh, I wonder if that’s why I dislike that show so much? And here I just thought it was that guy’s uncanny resemblance to Rod Stewart. ;-)

    Of course I don’t remember hearing that line, since I think the only episode I’ve ever seen all the way through was the one where he went with several firefighters to make a Thanksgiving dinner. (Which probably is the only time they’ve ever selected men in the grocery store, and they did phrase it as ‘a favour to the women in the audience’ that they were going to the firehouse. That certainly made me start grinding my teeth.) But I think I’ll use it as my reason anyway.

  27. Jennifer Kesler says

    The more I think about this, the more I think you’ve got a point. I personally never saw the big deal about his “to the moon!” remarks because he was obviously only capable of talking big. But there you have a boorish man (regardless of weight) being adored by a very patient wife he doesn’t treat well. It’s obvious why he loves her – who the hell else would put up with him – but I figured she’d just totally made a mistake marrying him but was now stuck with it because divorces weren’t given out so easily back then.

    Modern sitcoms are probably trying to draw on the same dynamic, but since women ARE now able to leave men who don’t respect them or treat them well, there’s a whole different message being sent by these kind and patient wives staying with these poor examples of husbands.

    And the more I think on it, the more I realize their appearance – “fat” man and “hot” woman – is merely TV visual stereotype code to let us know he’s a jerk and she’s a saint. Because as we ALL know, “fat” people are asses and skinny people always have swell personalities. /sarcasm

  28. Jennifer Kesler says

    Lex, the site is not limited to US shows. But King of Queens and According to Jim have the potential to be seen by many millions of people worldwide. Vicar of Dibley does not, unfortunately. Therefore, as I said before, the “overweight/ordinary-looking woman with gorgeous guy” version of this paradigm is far from getting equal exposure.

    As you probably know, I love British TV and think it does a far better job with female representation overall than American. Unfortunately, it’s the American TV that’s reaching the lionshare of the world audience. It’s our sick stereotyping that’s not being countered equally. And why do you suppose we relegate British shows to the relative obscurity of BBCAmerica instead of one of our free, broadcast networks? Because British TV might give Americans the dangerous idea that women are people.

  29. Jennifer Kesler says

    Exactly! I actually made that comparison in an article I’ll be posting soon. Overweight, glasses and braces are all visual codes to let you know that even if the actor is cute, the character is supposed to be physically unappealing.

    Not in every case, but it happens so often I think people know what they’re being “told” by the TV even if they don’t think that way in their own lives.

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