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July 02, 2008

On Fatness, Stigma, and Popular Culture

I happened to go see WALL-E with my wife over the weekend, and we were both appalled at the prevalence of sterotypes about fat people in the movie (i.e., that they are lazy, that they cannot think for themselves, that they are totally and completely narcisstic, to name but a few that jumped out at us).

Of course, I should have figured I am late to the game, as the Fatosphere has been all over this.  I was stunned to read over at the F-Word, which first noted the potential problems in Nov. 2007, a 6.28 update noting:

This post was made during the film’s developmental stage.  WALL-E has now been released in theaters and it appears as if Pixar has considerably reworked the show since the time of this post to tone down its negative and discriminatory portrayals of fat people.

Good lord.  If Pixar actually did "considerably rework the show" to tone down its prejudicial portrayals of fat people, I shudder to think what the film looked like before they decided to appease.

The fact that the producers inserted a line about the cause of the humans' fatness being due to the effects of "microgravity" -- and hence, is 'not their fault,' itself a pernicious and troubling trope in the discourse on stigma in health and illness -- did not stop the film from linking fat people with all sorts of hoary stereotypes.

Plus, the movie wasn't even that good! Too cute by half.


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