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It’s great that size acceptance and a voice that counters the vehemence of the “war on obesity” is getting the kind of publicity that lands an ally on The Colbert Report, but far be it for Stephen Colbert to pass up the easy opportunity at some introductory fat jokes. Though I’m not really sure how to feel about the lead in for Farrell’s interview, I’m glad that she got airtime.

Enjoy it:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Obesity Epidemic - Amy Farrell
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

What did you think about the interview? What did you think about the lead-in jokes?

Check out the appearance of fat acceptance on Good Morning America.

As an historian, Jay understands the degree to which our aesthetic judgments are shaped by our cultural surroundings, and he has studied and written about the importance of rights, respect and acceptance for all people. Jay is a member of the Association for Size Diversity and Health.


Previous Comments

  • I have no idea whether it will help our cause, but I will say that, although I’m a Colbert fan, I didn’t enjoy the lead in; it just wasn’t funny.  As for the interview, I don’t recall the interviewee scoring any size acceptance points, or if she did they weren’t memorable.

  • Jenn S.'s avatar

    Humor can of course be subversive (Colbert didn’t miss the opportunity to make a gay joke either) but I was disappointed to see that Colbert shot down all of Farrell’s attempts to have an intelligent conversation about fat acceptance.  Without the critique, the humor just came off as mean-spirited rather than critical and subversive.

  • phat1's avatar

    Folks, keep in mind that this is a satirical humor show.  From the times I’ve seen the show, I don’t think he did anything different than he does with any other topic or guest.  Are we being too sensitive because this is “our” topic?

    In his intro (or comedy monologue, in which he is supposed to get laughs from his viewers and maybe make them think a little), Colbert hit on many relevant top stories very quickly:
    - Government acting as “Big Brother”, making people conform to its image of healthy.
    - Uninsurable “fat” 4 month old.
    - Photoshopped (and a horrible job of it) Ralph Lauren model (and just how asinine that was - emphasis on the “ass”).
    - Charging for two airline seats (and bringing up Rosa Parks was one way of pointing out, “Hey, maybe this is a type of discrimination”).
    - Stupid government subsidy tricks (here, corn).

    The prof was on for about 3-1/2 minutes of this segment - and she started off by agreeing with him (the points in his intro).  When she critiques the studies that have been done, I think he offers an excellent summation of her point (especially for the venue - remember, a comedy satire “news” show):
    “Targeting fat people as being expensive to our health care system is not true.”
    What more would you want from him?

    And during the discussion, he points out:
    We didn’t used to have this shame - we had fat presidents…
    Discrimination because thin people make more money.
    Thin people have it easier getting a job.

    As far as the gay quip, I think he’s just being a disagreeable buffoon (the “I’m always right and if you disagree with me, you are wrong” type), as often he is with interviewees (again, I don’t watch it regularly at all, but have seen several episodes here and there). Isn’t this “in-character”?

    And his end point: “...they should be given the same health care as everyone else.”

    Again, I have to ask, given his TV persona and the context, what more would you want from him?

  • I would want him to be funny, which he wasn’t.  Especially seeing as how this is supposed to be a comedic show.  Fat jokes are lame and stale, and I’ve heard them all.  But thanks for reminding me about the good parts.

  • Jay Solomon's avatar

    Though I definitely appreciate the fact that the fat jokes were lame and stale, as Bill said (which isn’t to say that there aren’t ways to make a good fat joke - I think there are ways to make a good anything joke . . . Colbert just settled for a bit less, perhaps), I do have to say that I found phat1’s comment very grounding.

    I am extremely aware of and sensitive to fat jokes and fat talk because it is ‘our issue.’ That makes me pretty hyper-critical of anything that dares tread. That said, what phat1 pointed out was the fact that at the end of the day, Colbert’s points, summary and understanding of what was being said do a lot more justice to the issue than we may otherwise give it credit for, especially when we contextualize Colbert and what he’s doing (generally providing jokey news in a somewhat stale way). I like Jon Stewart much better anyway, and I’d be interested to see how he’d treat this issue.

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