If you’ve been reading for a while, you know of my conflicted feelings about Ricky Gervais. But, the problem is, he keeps hating on fat people and making it more and more difficult for me to love him. (I have the same issue with Joel McHale on The Soup. I love his shows—especially Community—and I love him, but every time The Soup does a fat joke, I cringe.) Especially since the fat hate is now also misogynistic fat hate, according to my delightful correspondent Sheila (bolding mine):
Wanted to write you last month after I saw Ricky Gervais live — most of the show was amazing, but he did a solid 15 minutes of fat jokes that were just horrifying and they were all — ALL — aimed at fat women. He’s newly buff and living it up, which, you know, bully for him and all, but I sat there and tried not to cry for that portion of the show, and then listened to him explain how he wouldn’t apologize for making jokes like that b/c comedy was supposed to be edgy and push people. All I could think was truly edgy fare needn’t be explained as such, and since when the fuck are fat jokes “dangerous” and “taboo”? Sort of smacked of David Brent waxing on to the doc crew about his “comedy.” Was offended and made me sad.
Anyway, knew you were an Office fan, so I went home and looked up what you’d written about it, which made me feel lots better, knowing I wasn’t the only conflicted Gervais fan out there.
Sheila also discussed this with her friend, Entertainment Weekly PopWatch blogger Mandi Bierly, and this theme found its way into a recent interview Bierly did with Brooke Elliott and Margaret Cho, both of whom are on Drop Dead Diva. That interview is here, and it’s a really interesting read, and Bierly brings up Ricky Gervais, the Eat Less shirts, and plenty of other topics.
Margaret Cho on Ricky Gervais:
I haven’t seen it, but I always think he’s funny. The fact about his humor is that in his comedy, people always say that he’s fat. So it’s interesting, he’s the one who’s been hurt by it, too, a lot. So I wonder what that means… In any case, as a comedian, I could never make fun of it because I almost killed myself so many times as a younger woman. I took so many diet pills. I have a heart murmur because I took Fen-Phen in the ’90s. I have permanent damage to my body because I wanted to be thin. That desire to have a smaller body, to take up less space in the world, was so important to me that I don’t remember most of my twenties. I didn’t appreciate the young woman that I was, or my young beauty, because I was so obsessed with the fact that I felt fat. It’s never good to add to anybody else’s suffering.
Brooke Elliott on her character in Drop Dead Diva (a formerly thin model who ends up in the body of a plus-size lawyer):
I think the show treats this character with so much dignity and respect. That’s why this show’s so popular. She’s a beautiful woman, and it treats her like a beautiful woman. She’s got all these guys fighting over her. There’s so much drama in her romantic life. She feels beautiful, she is beautiful, it’s just about taking somebody [the real Jane] who formerly considered herself invisible and making her visible. Deb’s never been invisible, she doesn’t know how to be. So when she’s in Jane’s body, she knows how to be visible. That’s what this is about: Somebody becoming visible to themselves and to the world, which is powerful.
And finally, a recommendation!
Speaking of beautiful, confident big women on TV: you prob. know about this since you’re hip to the Brit coms, but if you haven’t watched, you MUST MUST MUST see Gavin and Stacey. BBC America is currently showing series three, but the first two are available on DVD. The title characters are the least interesting, actually. The two writers, Ruth Jones and James Corden, play the supporting characters and are fantastic. Ruth is a gorgeous voluptuous woman (also, she plays the bartender in Daffyd’s pub in Little Britain, if you’ve ever seen that). Hilarious, amazing cast, great writing.
I have actually never seen Gavin and Stacey but my friend Eliza loves it, and she has great taste, so I’ve been meaning to check it out. Thanks for the e-mail, and the recommendation, Sheila! And thanks for the interview, Mandi, it was a terrific read.
Posted by mo pie