Sep 27, 2019
This was originally supposed to be a bonus episode, but Amy graced us with more time than the original 20 we thought we were going to get so we decided this warranted a full episode.
We start with a high-level discussion of 'life as performance art'- from the college kid who is SO EXCITED to correct Amy's pronunciation of bruschetta he forgets he's at TGI Friday's, and a cringe-worthy moment of performative wokeness in the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Drop Dead Gorgeous definitely has problematic themes, but when Coach MK was younger there weren't many stories on the big screen that truly represented her experience. Her rural Southern life was almost always the butt of the joke, Drop Dead Gorgeous made her feel like she was in on the joke. The difference was really important at the time- in 1999 she was a rural scholarship kid at Georgetown and felt like the butt of most jokes. She feels that sting every time someone fakes a Southern accent. There was one Narrative about people in the South, all of us could be associated with and summed up by that famous banjo twang from the movie "Deliverance". It was inescapable, she had to WORK to overcome that Narrative in people's minds once they heard the sound of her voice. Those well-traveled kids at Georgetown had been all over the world but had not once ventured beyond the confines of the suburbs; I was the only person from a place like Smith County most of them had ever encountered.
This is why the Single Narrative Theory matters- when we focus on the individual as the representative of a group, that single narrative is used to define all people who are perceived to be in the same group. It's the box I have to break out of once you hear my real voice. Do you want my story, do you care about my truth? Nah, you busy. Easier to lump me into whatever Narrative you already know. This is why we need more voices in the room when stories are written, when movies are produced, when fall tv slates are set. A new show or movie isn't breaking new ground if it isn't introducing a new Narrative about the faces and cultures presented in the movie, a litmus test Brittany Runs a Marathon totally fails in ways that we don't think were intended to be cringe-worthy.
We have come a LONG way in the depictions of disabilities and marginalized communities onscreen save one: fat people. This is why we wanted to speak to Amy: Brittany Runs a Marathon perpetuates the same Narrative about fat people being angry and sad and messy AND THEN they get their lives together, lose weight, and find love and happiness.
AHEM. no. This Narrative, and this movie, conflates internalized fatphobia with responsibility. It's why we feel ashamed of being even a little overweight and get ANGRY when fat activists demand we accept their bodies- you are doing work by caring while they flaunt their refusal to do work. This is why Shrill matters, it's important to see fat people living normal lives, being comfortable in their bodies. It gives us a new Narrative about fat people, and a Second Narrative about fat people is a critical step in ensuring the world will be a safer place for them...and for us.
We also need a New Narrative about eating disorders and how they CAN exist in people with BMIs over 17...but THAT podcast will take more time to prepare.