Wednesday, November 30, 2011

my dinner with @robdelaney

Nah--not dinner, a seven-tweet exchange. Which he thoughtfully deleted on his end, so as to keep his kooky followers (wait, that's me!) from targeting me as a civilian.

I love reading Rob Delaney on Twitter, as do many other people--as of this exact moment, 257,212 other people, which is maybe 200K more than when I first started following him. (I cite this not as hipster cred but to show how fast things can change on Twitter. Tis bonkers.)

If you already follow him you probably get the appeal of his funny and nsfw feed (watch as I make it unfunny with a little sketchy analysis), which more than many uses the tools that only 140 characters allow, including lots of change in voice and tone using punctuation, spelling, and length, doing stuff like: responding to fake tweets he's made up (Barack Obama) or to real tweets from dumb corporate/celebrity feeds (Kim K); employing a great sense of the goofy and macabre; showing a strong, sincere POV about politics, shitty popular culture, and dumb women's beauty ideals, which shines through in all the fun, nasty tweets. I can't sum up his tweetin' in one paragraph, but it's really fun, and worth a surge through it, as is the stuff he writes for Vice. He's smart. He doesn't ha-ha at his written jokes--just lets them rip.

He often talks about liking chubby women (see category "he likes it sturdy," here), which is always what makes it an extra-bummer to see guys like that draw that line where "fat" becomes a lazy, meaning-packed diss. They just move the line over a little, a distinction that people in their preferences always seem to need to define by talking about how gross the things they don't like are.

I think I'd responded to one of his "fat" tweets before, but in October I tossed another response at him (first thing in the morning, bleary-eyed, unthinking) because of the first tweet below, here, and then had the following exchange:

Who knows if he actually thought about what I said. "Fat" still pops up in his tweets in kinda meh ways. It must be such a temptation to use that word, especially in that context--three words of great power and connotation--although to me it means only one thing. I don't mean that in any kind of ennobled way! This is not about being PC. It's just that all the word describes is body size...that's it. Any other meaning is long gone for me, to the point that when other people use it I can feel confused at first. He's right--it is lazy to use it as a descriptor, because it doesn't mean nearly as much as people think it does, which also makes it misleading. And confirms its general role as an insult. And he didn't need to mention that his weight fluctuates (inasmuch as it's relevant, which it isn't)--everyone in America has issues about size, otherwise people wouldn't be so fucked up and mean about it to other people.

But I quite appreciated him writing back (and quickly deleting the posts). It was very exciting and I do think he was a mensch for doing it. And I love his ballsy way of using the space he has on Twitter--opening up a lot of space with his jokes, especially by being both raunchy and real (ungh, why are the words describing nsfw humor so humorless) and sort of feminist at the same time. Which was why it was a bummer to see him patting prejudice into place using "fat" the way he did, but you know--Twitter goes by fast. Things change fast too. Who knows.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that the day after our interchange, this piece by Delaney appeared on the Vice website: "I Fuck Food." Which is a phrase from this blog--I used it in an entry about Bridesmaids: ". . . a lame sight gag involving a sandwich that makes it clear that people think fat people fuck food, not people." Simultaneous genius?

"It's that fat lady from the station!"

A lady needs tools in her self-esteem arsenal, yes? Of all kinds?

I like to collect and savor moments that demonstrate (a sometimes delightfully unexpected) admiration for fat women in movies or TV (or paintings or books or). Earlier in my life I think I used to snatch at them, really--as evidence of something I wasn't quite sure existed--but regardless, I am still now, as then, ever on the lookout for bits of culture that praise or otherwise provide an appreciation of the larger lady. They are fun.

As such, I offer up a scene from Where Angels Fear to Tread (1991), a rather chaotic adaptation of the novel by E.M. Forster. It is one of those stories that shows horrid English people doing horrid things in Italy (and how), which opens their insides up and teaches them how to be otherwise, although it may be too late? Yes? No?

Earlier in the film, the exceedingly horrid Harriet Herriton (played fearlessly by Judy Davis) and her brother Philip (Rupert Graves) have bumped into a woman (Evelina Meghnagi) on the train and rudely pushed her out of the way [see above stills]. After disembarking they all end up waiting in the sun at the same train station in Monteriano, where the fat woman, whose conversational advances Harriet has cut, is unaccountably (to Harriet) picked up first by the pleased driver.

Later, Harriet, Philip, and Caroline Abbott (Helena Bonham-Carter), attend a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor and discover that the woman they were traveling with is fact the star of the production ("It's that fat lady from the station!"). She sings the mad scene from Lucia ("She's sure to be very vulgar," says Harriet) as the Italian audience--mostly men, and mostly rather swain-like--sit rapt and silent before breaking into crazy applause at the end (and Philip climbs the balcony to meet the man they've come to Italy to see, as if he's leaving his own culture and joining theirs). I was enchanted by this scene when I first saw it. There's a nice little bit of comeuppance in it, as well as the fun of seeing a room full of Forster's Italians swoon over the singer. Enjoy!