Sometimes I wish I was not so aware. Some of my friends are getting a bit tired of my hyper awareness; because it makes them hyper aware; which sometimes can be a bit of a “buzz kill.” But I yam who I yam
Or are they?
Case in point: I don’t go to the movies very often but my son is home from college for the summer and we went to see the movie, Super 8. In an otherwise adorable perfect summer film filled with fluffy fodder, this moment stuck out like a sore thumb.
SPOILER ALERT (NOT A BIG GIVE AWAY BUT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE STOP READING).
In the film, there is a bit of a Junior High School crush triangle going on involving two boys enamored with the same girl. The girl (Alice, played by Elle Fanning) is, not surprisingly, long legged, blonde, rail thin, and drop dead gorgeous. She is also smart and a wonderful young actor!
One of the boys is fat (Charles, played by Riley Griffiths) and the other boy (Joe, played by Joel Courtney) is not.
Zoom in on the fat boy confessing to the thin boy that he has a huge crush on the girl and how jealous he is that the girl likes the thinner boy. As Charles confides in Joe, he explains that the reason Alice must like Joe more is because Joe is not fat. Along with the blame Charles assigns to his body is the indication that his fatness is temporary. He says something like, “My doctor said I haven’t leaned out yet…but I will in a couple of years.”
The entire scene must have taken about two minutes max; yet lingered in my mind for the duration of the film, and obviously long after or I wouldn’t be writing about it. I don’t want to belabor the point especially because most of the people reading this post already have some compassion about why this may have bothered me so much.
So I will be brief.
What irked me the most was the matter of fact way the assumption was presented. The assumption being that Alice liked Joe more because Charles was fat. There was no chance that it may have been about Alice having a preference for one personality over another.
And the mention of the soon to come leaning out by the doctor added insult to injury by reinforcing that a fat phase is just some horrible rite of passage to get through before you could live the good life of the thin person and get the girl.
This movie was, in many ways, a delightful spoof of old movies; a combination of The Goonies, Stand by Me, Close Encounters, E.T. and Aliens. And I know it was supposed to be taking place circa mid-1980. Still, it had an opportunity NOT to reiterate the assumption that ONLY thin kids are crush worthy.
With all of the focus these days on obese babies, obese children, obese teens, and obese adults, this scene hit home rather hard. Fat is presented as something that must be overcome if true happiness is to be achieved. Once again, stereotypes in contemporary movies are being reinforced instead of challenged and broken. Damn my hyper-awareness, but I feel that film makers have the rare opportunity to model and perhaps redefine what people are attracted to in another person. It is disappointing that they continue to make the same superficial predictable choices over and over again. How about if we do another take?