Due to my illness, I spent more time than usual watching television. I am reading Haruki Murikami's The Wild Sheep Chase and Watchmen (I have to see the movie afterward) and Dead Until Dark (the romance--go romance!--novel that True Blood is based on), but I stopped feeling able to concentrate at some point. Many points. I'd be reading Sheep, and I would slowly wander into some thought process about the lamb chops Michael made a few nights before. I'd be reading the romance, and move into a reverie about how to convey thoughts in fiction. I'd read or look at Watchmen, and go back in time to my beloved Batman series that I watched in my youth. Pow! Wham!
So I sat down in front of the television and turned it on, flipping in a ghastly, mindless way through the dozens of channels Direct TV provides me for the low cost of over a hundred dollars a month.
I settled at some point on TLC, the learning channel. And what, you ask, did I learn?
That we are living in a PT Barnum world.
Yes, we have not gotten over the freak show tent. Freak is a bad word and it doesn't speak to the people in the tent. It speaks to us, the freaks who go into the tent to look. We want to see those not us so we can feel better about ourselves. In a cruel and unrelenting gaze, we watch those who suffer so we can feel better about how we don't suffer like them.
The show The 1000 Pound Dad.
I watched this show. I watched the whole show about a man who weighed 1000 pounds. He was trapped in his house, his wife feeding him 30,000 calories a day. He was so big, he hadn't walked in five years. He was so enormous, they cut a hole in his house to get him out and into the ambulance, 12 men and a flatbed contraption moving him.
I was transfixed by his body, a puddle of enormous flesh on the bed. I couldn't stop watching. I watched his various operations--and they were gory. I watched him try to stand. I focused on his toenails, his feet, his belly. The only thing I wasn't shown here his genitals. But I would have watched them, too. I was a freak, and then, when they interspersed his story with the 800 pound teenager, I watched him too, his mother feeding him constantly.
Segue to a commercial for Small People Newlyweds, the story about two people with dwarfism, who just got married. Watch him go through his hip replacement surgery. Watch her try to drive.
Back to 1000 pound dad and the surgery to remove the fatty rumors weighing 50 pounds each.
These shows seem to respect the folks they focus on. These people come across as people with hopes and dreams, but by putting them on the air, do the shows negate that very humanity the producers are trying to present? And what does it say about me that I actually watched through one hour of obesity and then another hour of tiny people?
Besides, of course, that I'm a freak.
In any case, I'm thankful that I'm better now, that I can focus on my bizarre life with its attendant problems, things that are in ways as debilitating as too many pounds or not enough inches.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org