18 October 2009

Shooting the movie messenger - because he's fat

I was discussing movies recently with an acquaintance whose political views are unknown to me. I mentioned that the last movie I saw was "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michael Moore, and I recommended it very highly. I mentioned the fact that even some conservatives are recommending it (just in case she leans to the right).

Her response: "I don't watch Michael Moore's movies."

Me: "Why not?"

Her: "Because he's fat."

I can understand people not wanting to see his movies because they disagree in general with his political viewpoints. Those are the people who prefer to shut out the uncomfortable truths that he exposes.

But avoiding his movies because of his size? In a country where 67 percent of adults are overweight or obese? That seems suspicious to me.

I asked her if she avoids movies featuring other overweight stars, like John Goodman, James Gandolfini, Kevin Smith, or Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Her response: "No, that's different."

What's different? I couldn't get a straight answer to that, either.

Is it different perhaps because those other guys are playing fictional characters, while Michael Moore is very, very real in the narrative role that he plays in his films?

And that leads me to believe that the issue really is a political one, and too uncomfortably so to admit (perhaps even to herself). After all, unfortunately, a lot of people don't do a lot of deep, honest, critical thinking when it comes to their political viewpoints. Instead they just react instinctively based on dogma.

It's been said that ad hominem attacks (like weight) are the last refuge of those defending an untenable position. And that would include those who feel cornered by their own closed minds.

It is sad. Even sadder is the fact that people like this sometimes vote.

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