Web Cowgirl 衛 思 維 (webcowgirl) wrote,
Web Cowgirl 衛 思 維
webcowgirl

Hairpray, Nina Paley, and the anti-fat culture

So ... I'm reading the New York Times this morning, and I decide to look at an article called, "Should doctors lecture their patients about their weight?" This is of interest to me, firstly because it hits a point a friend of mine recently raised in their blog, and secondly because it hits upon a cultural thing I've been tracking for a while. And I saw this quote, which confirms my opinion: "Obese people are the new pariahs in our culture; it used to be smokers, but now it is the overweight."

Well, smokers are still kind of pariahs, but I don't think they get nearly as much crap on a daily basis, whereas fat people get to see it in nearly every bit of media that they are not okay, in addition to getting sneered at on buses and made fun of in school. This is despite the fact that their issue doesn't affect other people like smoking does; it's not like your risk of a heart attack rises from having dinner next to someone who is overweight.

The article continues: "The idea that their personal worth lies on their BMI is extremely damaging." Mm mm. Go Dr. Rob.

Anyway, this leads into my evening, which was spent watching Hairspray with bathtubgin and spikeylady (as well as, and of course, shadowdaddy). This was the most amazingly fat-positive show I've ever seen. By this I mean it wasn't about gaining weight; it actually addressed the issues of anti-fat prejudice straight on, and had the message, "You can do it! Be yourself!" This was great. I mean, it's one thing to be overweight and have health issues, but why should feeling like a failure be so much a part of the experience? Doesn't everyone feel so much more like a person who, say, is in a wheelchair and is upbeat is a person to look up to? And yet, if you remember highschool, "gimps" and "crips" got all sorts of hatred and attitude thrown their way.

The play also dealt with (in a not heavy way) the issues of race at this time in history. I really liked seeing racism handled head-on, showing both the good and the bad and, well, just the fair amount of subtlety in terms of how the race issue existed/exists in America. Unfortunately none of the black characters really had a whole lot of dimensionality to them, but, well, I guess that doesn't really reflect the author's experience.

Anyway, the songs were really fun (I like the 60s musical style), the costumes were great, and the big dance scenes were awesome. I can now see why booklectic has been again and again. Clearly she's not the only one, as a plaid-shirted teenager a few seats over was singing along to the final number. I bet all of the actors in all of the other musicals on in London right now are wishing they could get into this show - the energy was really high and the quality of the performers was tops. It was, as ever, sold out. Now I'll have to see the Hairspray movies, but I'm glad I went into it knowing nothing, so it could all be one fun suprise.

I should also say that on Tuesday night I made it out to see Nina Paley's animated movie Sita Sings the Blues, on recommendation from ironymaiden. Although there were serious technical issues with the copy of the DVD we were watching (too horrifying to go into in great detail here, it's really just not what you want happening for the London premiere of a film), the art and storytelling were great and I highly recommend it, though since it doesn't have distribution I don't see how you could see it yet (though you can watch the trailer here). J and I are fans of the Ramayana (and the Mahabharatha) and have seen several different versions of it, including dance/shadowpuppet and marionette versions. In some ways it seems to come down to this question: why does Sita stay with Ram when he's such a poop? At any rate that was Nina's take on the story, and with the lovely singing and variety of animation styles, it was really a pleasure to watch. (Note to self: find music by Annette Hanshaw.)
Tags: it's all a big fat lie, movies, reviews, theater
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