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Brian Hague
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Posted: 01 May 2018 at 3:31pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

"So, the party's going great. Everybody's havin' a good time. The boss is finally actin' like a human being for a change, and we're all tearin' it up, and then Janice has to go and wreck it all 'cause someone grabbed her ass. Hey, Janice, it was just a joke, lady! Grow a f*ckin' sense of humor, why don'tcha?" 

One voice speaking out in the midst of a large group is called a "minority." It's interesting to read so many opinions saying those should not be regarded as important or paid any attention.

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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 01 May 2018 at 5:26pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

As a Scot I demand they drop Groundskeeper Willie, then.

Do we now criticise Balki from Perfect Strangers? Latka from Taxi?


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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 02 May 2018 at 7:02am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Brian you keep making what if scenarios. This is about a character(s) on a specific show. If Raj on Big Bang was portrayed like Apu that I agree would be insensitive. Apu portrayed like Raj on The Simpsons would be a one and done character. The issue can be legitimate but I think when people side step the tone, satirical nature, caricatural people and intent of creators, they have picked the wrong show to build a argument on.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 02 May 2018 at 7:10am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

The internet, aka the Disinformation Highway, has created an environment in which anyone can take offense at anything -- and find swarms of followers to jump on the same bandwagon.
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 02 May 2018 at 7:27am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Welcome to the vanilla world where everyone is scared to
make a joke,funny comment or satirical barb in case ONE
person takes offence.I am waiting for a Scottish
transgender person to take offence at Mrs Doubtfire and
get that on the banned list.
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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 02 May 2018 at 7:43am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I also question why Apu is considered so offensive. I admit I have no watched The Simpsons in a few years but from what I recall he was one of the less idiotic of the characters.  More grounded and taken aback at the others antics. Is his family business the kwik-e-mart part of the offense? The obvious exaggerated accent?

Too be honest he is a caricature of the Middle Eastern and East Indian people I come in contact with. I live in a mid-sized city in Western Canada, I would have what most call a blue collar job. In the franchised convenient stores I have been in here most if not all are owned and operated by Middle Eastern and East Indian Families. 

I know that these groups are as diverse as any other with jobs, but in my personal sphere of influence  that is reality. It is not wrong or right it is just a fact.
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 02 May 2018 at 12:53pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Just out of curiosity,  has anyone else here watched the Apu documentary? If so, what are your thoughts specifically about how the argument is made in that doc?
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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 02 May 2018 at 7:34pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Maybe I was coming from a place of ignorance because I did not watch the documentary. Now I have watched and stand by all i have said and seems to me to be even more faux outrage. Seeing the two main points of contention I was asking myself questions. The first "issue" was the accent, would Apu be more acceptable if the accent was toned down? Second was the actor, would the accent have been acceptable if played by an East Indian? Neither question was asked or alluded to that I saw. I see the people interviewed see the Apu character as one dimensional. Apu may be known but I find it hard to believe any one is a fan because of the accent and tag line. 
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 03 May 2018 at 11:46am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

"In Bob We Trust" commentary on the Apu situation.

 This is the third part of his commentary, but the first two parts mostly go over what has already been discussed here.
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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 03 May 2018 at 8:06pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

i really did not see anything new there. I understand that a group of people think this character defined who they were by others. The are entitled to those feelings but it does not negate other people feeling they are blowing it out of proportion. Why does society usually bend to the vocal minority?

I am a fat guy should I not wear a white collared shirt to my blue collared job anymore because people have called me Homer and Peter. Should I worry that those people think I am dumb, lazy or abusive to my children because of some TV characters. Do I not care about what people, who have no bearing on my life, say or think?  I was a fat kid too, asked to do the truffle shuffle and called Spanky. 

I would go out on a limb and say there is many more negative portrayals of fat people than most other groups. Just look to the Simpsons as an example. Where is the outrage?

People have become too focused on words and personal feelings they ignore intent. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 03 May 2018 at 10:20pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Why does society bend to the vocal minority? Because minorities are injured by the actions of society, and if the injuries are to stop, society must change. 

Being the fat kid in school is in no way comparable to being of an ethnicity that is mocked and disenfranchised. Being the fat guy in adult life doesn't net you anything, either. On the other hand, you can make yourself feel better about it all by simply having another Twinkie.

What? What? It's a joke. A joke, people. Why does everyone ignore intent?

Apu's characterization is based on race. Few others on the show are. There is no stereotypical Black Simpsons character grooving down the street with a boom box on his shoulder on his way to buy his usual meal of fried chicken and watermelon. There is no Mexican kid breaking into everyone's cars at night and doing sombrero dances at his parole hearings. We do have Apu, however, who speaks in a humorous dialect and works 24 hours a day in his convenience store, cheerfully being robbed and bowing to everyone's wishes. 

The humor is racially based. 

And has been for thirty f*ckin' years now. At first, he was just one cartoon among many, but the Simpsons has gone on to carry tremendous cultural cache and East Indian refugees now must carry this albatross around with them. Is it the worst thing that's ever happened to anyone? No, but we can put a stop to it and should. 

Apu is offensive. We know this because people have spoken out and said they find him so. That's the objective definition of offensive. That you can not and will not see the point of their complaint doesn't make them wrong. 

You've had your funny East Indian stereotype for a good long while now. You've enjoyed laughing at him and having him perform for you. Yes, it would be nice if ethnic stereotypes could sing and dance and entertain those of us with less determinate backgrounds forever, as is their perceived role in society. But now someone has spoken out, and yes, it's no fun being called out on having backwards, unenlightened values; It's no fun being told you're insensitive.

Do we have to listen to whiny SJW's every time they speak out? Not really, no. But this is racially based, and the fact that this portrayal has become so ingrained in our daily lives is exactly what makes it so harmful. There are few enough positive portrayals onscreen and none with the power to balance out the Simpsons' portrayal of Apu.

I'm pretty sure the producers are going to jump on this, and have the character become the focal point of protest groups on the show; have him deliver a heartfelt and moving apology for simply being what he is, and trundling off into the sunset with his family and a polka-dot bag tied to the end of a stick as music rises and there's not a dry eye in the house. And then probably have him back behind the counter next morning because he remembered a shipment of burritos and beef jerky was due in, and one must be on one's business if one is to run a business, yes, yes. 

The appeal of the Simpsons and South Park; the appeal of Trump is in large part due to the offense they offer. "You think I need to change? I don't care what you think. What do you think about that?" It's a visceral kick to tell off those who think they know better than you. F*ck them and the horse they rode in on.

But we're on a web site where the rainbow-colored logo literally reminds us to "care." We can do that here in the U.S. Part of what makes America great as a society and a culture is that we do embrace the voices of the minority and we do change in response to the concerns of those who call out for it. Change isn't surrender. Properly handled, it's advancement and represents an improvement in the lives of everyone. Change is also inevitable. So do we want to grab hold of it and steer in a direction that betters our lives, or do we look forward to next season's Rashid, the funny Muslim guy who really isn't here to blow anything up. No, really he isn't. By the by, you wouldn't happen to know of any flight schools in Springfield, would you? No, no. Just asking for a friend...

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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 May 2018 at 6:27am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

On the cover of the first issue of ALPHA FLIGHT, I had Our Heroes charging thru the midst of a flock of other Marvel characters. Guardian was saying something like "One side, superheroes! Alpha Flight will take care of this!"

I received a letter castigating me because "Alpha Flight are superheroes too!!"

To paraphrase JURASSIC PARK, offense finds a way.

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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 04 May 2018 at 6:34pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

People have become too focused on words and personal feelings they ignore intent.

óó

People equate disregard and apathy toward other peopleís feelings as lack of intent. Itís one thing to unintentionally offend someone; itís another thing to, after being told how words and actions affect someone else, say, ďOh well! Stop being so sensitive! Iím going to keep on doing what Iím doing.Ē
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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 04 May 2018 at 8:33pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I do not eat twinkies they are gross and that joke had intent. So fat peoples feelings are less important than a minorities? Who determines who emotional pain is greater? Is this opinion or is there facts to back up this idea? I just do not believe telling or shaming people into thinking a certain way fixes anything. I am not a bad guy because I do not see Apu as being any worse than other characters on the Simpsons. That does not make me backward, insensitive or having unenlightened values. I can understand others have a different opinion. It does not make them right and me wrong or vise versa. 

When people communicate there is a high probability they will offend someone. Many do not see how they offend others when they are discussing from their point of view. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 04 May 2018 at 10:18pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

The intent behind the Twinkie joke was humor; Humor that you took offense to. Why should I care? Seriously, offense will find a way and all that jazz. People will always find something to complain about, right?

The Simpsons' original intent is negligible at this point. Now that someone has spoken up and asked that they stop, the intent going forward must take that into account. Either they stop or they double down, say, "Screw that," and proceed... with the clear intent to offend those that have asked them to knock it off.

Fat people are the same as Black people, is that your argument? Or at least East Indians? Race hatred and body shaming are equal to one another? You understand what those who've suffered race hatred have undergone because you need another slice of pizza? Because at this point, the discussion is no longer sustainable. You demonstrate no understanding of the issues being debated whatsoever.

Your sense of entitlement to have the funny cartoon man delivered to your doorstep as he always has been is of no value beside the fact that others are being mocked, derided, and subjected to bad Hank Azaria impersonations as a result of Apu's cultural pre-eminence. Even the more subtle forms of assumption that result from the character's endlessly self-effacing, submissive attitude colors the national perception of a race of people. Can intelligent people make the distinction between the constantly reinforced image and the reality? I don't know. Can they tell race from fat? 

And before you assume I'm some sort of rotten, evil body shamer, I'm likely more heavy set than you are. I'm 5'9" on a good day and 260 pounds. I get that being fat in this society hurts and carries with it a real price. What I don't do is cry about it or think that it entitles me to have an authoritative voice in a discussion about race.

I don't mean to sound harsh, but seriously, you don't have a right to Apu, and those asking that something be done about the character do have a right to be heard on the issue. 


Edited by Brian Hague on 04 May 2018 at 10:27pm
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 10:48am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I still feel that this is a battle worth fighting... but this is the wrong battlefield. It's a cartoon that offends everyone in all kinds of ways, but I think it's a REFLECTION of society, not a direction marker. 

There are a lot of stereotypes in The Simpsons to remove. The fat police officer (who's also incompetent.) The drug using bus driver. The Scottish landskeeper. The greedy industrialist. The religious neighbor*. The Jewish clown.

If they're all removed or neutered, is there much of a cartoon left? Maybe. The Flintstones and the Jetsons seemed to do pretty well in their era. Ditto for Scooby Doo, ThunderCats, Muppet Babies, He-Man, Rugrats, etc. 

On the other hand, we can go back to the classic Warner Brothers cartoons, Animaniacs, a lot of Cartoon Networks 90s cartoons, etc. Without "prejudiced" content, they would have been pretty flaccid.

Are we on a road that leads to "comedy" without any offense in it? No mocking of races, religions, strangers, children, family, animals? Jewish comedians telling Jewish jokes? Cancer survivors (or not...) telling cancer anecdotes? No jokes about how dumb someone is?

Where do we draw the line? How do we achieve an equitable balance? There is constant dissension between freedom and security. Shall that be echoed with contention between comedy and compassionate sensitivity?

Or - and I know this is offensive to most - can we just tell jokes and telll people "it's not about you, so don't be so sensitive"?

One thing we CANNOT do is change the past. We have no way to affect what's happened before; we have to decide what to do in the future. Can we do a balancing act?

*I note that Flanders is neither proselytizing nor evangelical. He's just strongly faithful, and sometimes tries to teach his neighbor's kids... who are getting no religious guidance. Or at least, I've seen no difference.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 11:38am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Eric, I believe a program that's been followed in a large number of homes for thirty years does influence society, and as such is as appropriate a battleground as any. 

The "slippery slope" argument is a common one when someone else calls for action in a specific case. If someone tries to pass legislation against an AR-15, gun hysterics bellow and wail that they'll be coming for all your guns next. Eh, maybe they will. But dealing with things on a case-by-case basis is how things are done in real life, so let's just stick with Apu for now and we'll worry about the sanctity of the rest of the characters later. Should police unions rise up against the lazy, doughnut-munching layabout cop, we'll deal with that one next. Should Jewish clowns decide that Krusty is making it difficult for Jewish clowns in real life, we'll address that. Until they do, Apu and the complaints of those being affected by him are on the table, and the "slippery slope" is imaginary hand-waving designed to inflate the issue and scare the kids.

Comedy will always contain offensive elements. That's a given. This particular offensive element has been given free rein for decades and is now being called to account. Rather than wondering where it will all end, let's address this. Society and comedy survived the phasing out of Amos 'n Andy and the Frito Bandito. I don't think our capacity for humor in the U.S. is in terrible danger if Apu is removed, dialed down, or simply gets a job at the plant where he can be less of a deferential bootlicker.

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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 05 May 2018 at 11:06pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Brian, where did you get the idea that your fat joke offended me. I said your intent was clear and not subtle at all. I never implied that anyone does not have the right to have negative feelings about the Apu character. I said that I do not think that he is anymore offensive than most of the other characters on THIS show. I said before I think he comes across as one of the more intelligent and insightful characters, others see something different. I have not seen anyone's right to be heard taken away but some seem to express moral superiority when others disagree. 

I never brought anyone's character into the discussion. I will ask who decides what is more hurtful to an individual, racial stereotypes* or fat shaming. Because a person may not agree with you, they do not understand the issue? What you are saying is, you are right and if a person disagrees they are unintelligent. Entitlement, authoritative, these are thoughts that do not represent anything I have said in this discussion but they do seem to fit your opinions. 

I can see you are passionate on the subject of ethnicity. A character like Apu on another show and I would probably agree with your argument. In the context of this show I am not persuaded. Could my mind be changed? Possibly That is why we have discussions.  

* I do not think you wanted to infer that the creators or fans of The Simpsons hate Apu because of race and I never equated race hatred and fat shaming.







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Matt Reed
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 1:37am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

 Brian Hague wrote:
Fat people are the same as Black people, is that your argument? Or at least East Indians? Race hatred and body shaming are equal to one another? You understand what those who've suffered race hatred have undergone because you need another slice of pizza? Because at this point, the discussion is no longer sustainable. You demonstrate no understanding of the issues being debated whatsoever.

Let's stop with this line.  Seriously, dude.  People are abused because of their weight, their ethnicity, their height (or lack thereof), their gender, their sexuality, their skin color relative to their ethnicity.  People are bullied, looked down up, shamed, made to feel less than for any of a multitude of different reasons.  There is absolutely no reason to put them on a sliding scale and say that one person's pain or shaming is "less than" or "more important" simply because you don't feel that their place in the line is worse than others.  

Can't we agree that it's all bad rather than saying, say, fat people have it better off than Asians?  What was worse: the Holocaust or American slavery? Why the need to categorize?  And why make someone feel less than in the same breath you're trying to stand up for another faction?  "..because you need another slice of pizza"...Are you always this dismissive?  

Just stop.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 8:44am | IP Logged | 20 post reply


 QUOTE:
Can't we agree that it's all bad rather than saying, say, fat people have it better off than Asians?  What was worse: the Holocaust or American slavery? Why the need to categorize?  And why make someone feel less than in the same breath you're trying to stand up for another faction?  "..because you need another slice of pizza"...Are you always this dismissive?

Just stop.

Of course itís all bad, Matt. But specifically in response to a white guy saying, ďHey, I can take a fat joke, so why canít you take a racist joke?Ē which Iíve seen argued many a time on the Internet, itís false equivalence bullshit that needs to be called out.

Itís not an issue of better or worse. Itís an issue of one not being the same as the other, and I totally get what Brian was saying. Just because someone can cope with being teased for being fat, it does not give them any insight into what it means to be ďotheredĒ as a racial minority. 
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 9:25am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

 Michael Sommerville wrote:
Entitlement, authoritative, these are thoughts that do not represent anything I have said in this discussion

 Also Michael Sommerville wrote:
Now I have watched and stand by all i have said and seems to me to be even more faux outrage.

Valuing someoneís outrage over an issue that affects someone else and not you is the height of entitlement and authoritativeness. The systemic sexual assault and harrassment exposed by the current #MeToo movement was the result of decades of men deciding women were making a big deal over nothing. 
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Michael Sommerville
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 1:25pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

If I see things different thats because I am entitled and authoritative? No one can have an opinion on an issue unless directly affecting them? I never said anything about fat or racist jokes .My comments were specific to one character on one show. I watched and listened and was not persuaded that this character was the fulcrum for the insensitivity people of East Indian descent were subject too. 

Can someone show me the pyramid of offensiveness. Racism, sexual orientation, sexism, fat shaming, slut shaming, etc. What tops the list?  Then break it down further and show what sub group in each tops that pyramid. It is a contradiction to say something can not be seen as equally offensive but then say it is not an issue of better or worse. 

Saying someones thoughts on a subject are bullshit is weak. How a person thinks on a subject, like this, is subjective. When it comes to how a person feels there is rarely right or wrong unless going to the extreme. Feeling are not fact. Once again I never said anyones thoughts were wrong, I just was not convinced by the argument.



 
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 9:19pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

 Michael Sommerville wrote:
No one can have an opinion on an issue unless directly affecting them?

If I, as a man, declare that everything that women go through during pregnancy is no big deal, and I donít know what they are going on about, does my opinion have value?

 Michael Sommerville wrote:
I never said anything about fat or racist jokes .

 Also Michael Sommerville wrote:
I am a fat guy should I not wear a white collared shirt to my blue collared job anymore because people have called me Homer and Peter. Should I worry that those people think I am dumb, lazy or abusive to my children because of some TV characters. Do I not care about what people, who have no bearing on my life, say or think?  I was a fat kid too, asked to do the truffle shuffle and called Spanky.

Are there two Michael Sommervilles in this thread?

 Michael Sommerville wrote:
It is a contradiction to say something can not be seen as equally offensive but then say it is not an issue of better or worse.

Only if you are trying to hard to miss the point. Iíve been on the receiving end of comments about my weight and been on the receiving end of racial stereotyping. Neither aspect defines me. That being said, my race is a part of identity in a way that my weight is not. If I decided to lose weight because I didnít want to be looked at as overweight anymore, no one would blink. If I decided I wanted to be white because I didnít like how I was treated as a racial minority, people would rightfully be shocked and upset. If I decided to lose weight, I wouldnít be seen as rejecting my overweight family. If I decided I wanted to be white, it would be seen as a rejection of my non-white family. Fat-shaming and racism are both bad, but theyíre not the same experience.

 Michael Sommerville wrote:
Saying someones thoughts on a subject are bullshit is weak.

I agree that this is weak:

 Also Michael Sommerville wrote:
faux outrage
  

 Michael Sommerville wrote:
Once again I never said anyones thoughts were wrong, I just was not convinced by the argument.
  

 Also Michael Sommerville wrote:
faux outrage

Are there two Michael Sommervilles in this thread?
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 06 May 2018 at 9:49pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Iíll put this to Matt Reed, since I know thereís only one of him. Both of these thoughts have crossed my mind at one point or another:

ďI wish I was skinnier, because people would treat me differently if I were skinnier.Ē

ďI wish I were white, because people would treat me differently if I were white.Ē

Do you think the statements have equal implications? Because one of them causes me to struggle with my identity more than the other. Would I be incorrect in feeling that way?
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Matt Reed
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Posted: 07 May 2018 at 9:33am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

First off, I'm not going to say that you're incorrect about your feelings (talking in the general here and not specific to you).  Those are subjective to your experience, one I am not familiar with at all.  But I would also say that being grossly overweight is a struggle unto its own.  Studies have shown it's as much biological as it is just a controllable desire to eat more than you need to sustain yourself.  Speaking just of these two examples, obese people are marginalized, made fun of, denied jobs, picked on, have been the butt of incalculable jokes and ridicule, made to feel less than, are ostracized, see themselves as gross stereotypes in film and television, and see an increased level of self-abuse and suicide attempts among a host of other negative reactions leading, in some cases, to tragic outcomes.  

I guess where I'm coming from is that because I am neither obese nor a minority, I (personally) don't feel comfortable rating one as worse than the other or telling an obese person that hey, at least they're white so don't whine.  Again, I know that's not what you've said but I've heard that said in various ways over the years.  From the outside looking in, I just don't want to marginalize how anyone feels about themselves based on their specific set of circumstances.  
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