One Huge Lesson in Humility.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010.—Diary. 2010
January
<Jan 19 Jan 21>
Kilocal. Quant.
Breakfast

Listen­ing to the news from Haiti; read­ing about mandatory snack­ing for children. And going to the doc­tor again, right now. I’ve been to the doc­tor more in my 30s than I did as a child. And or­ders of mag­nitude more than in my 20s.

'' 110 1
'' 110
4/3
'' 120 1
'' 0 8
'' 90 1
466
Snack
'' 30 1
30
Lunch
'' 80 3
'' 90 6
'' 700 1
1,480
Dinner
'' 350 2
'' 108 1
808
Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser, Sea­son 9, Epis­ode 3

Last night I went to see half of a ter­rible show at the Bell House (why, when you do a cover of a Bob Dylan song, would you sit on a chair and sing while look­ing at the floor? Why, Charlotte?), so I missed Biggest Loser. But I just down­loaded the show il­leg­ally so that I don’t miss a mo­ment of fleshly weeping.

0:02
The yel­low and blue teams are shown at home, work­ing to re­turn to the ranch. The green mile guy is crying.
0:03
The green mile guy is crying.
0:03:30
The green mile guy is crying.
00:04
The host-woman has fif­teen pounds of blond hair to lose.
00:05
Sometimes the re­ac­tion shots are totally random. Clearly at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son they ask these people to react in shock five dif­fer­ent ways, then just queue that up as spice on the pump­kin when they need to pad the shot. If I see one more per­son grabbing the sides of their own chubby face el­lip­sis well el­lip­sis sigh I just don’t know.
00:07
It seems Bob and Jill­ian are going to go away for a week (in TV-time, not reality-time), pre­sum­ably to ful­fill their ban­ner ad obligations. In the mean­time there’s temptation challenge. Or whatever. The rules are more com­plic­ated than Archon. Basically: In each team there is to be a stu­dent (who weighs in), a mas­ter (who serves as a coach), and oh who gives a shit. The per­son who de­term­ines who is mas­ter and who is ser­vant is the per­son who eats the most tiny chocol­ate can­dies from two huge candy-filled troughs. Every­one has to eat in rounds, 5 kcal per candy piece. It’s a scene set for seduction, or some sort of Daniel Pink­wa­ter dom­in­atrix fantasy; for a mo­ment I ima­gine everyone, in­clud­ing Blondhost, diving into the candy trough, rub­bing M&Ms all over their bodies, all sorts of ex­cit­ing trans­gress­ive chubhoots. But. Three pieces of candy are eaten out of thirty or forty thou­sand pieces and wa? the con­test is over. Three pieces of candy total. Fif­teen cal­or­ies of crazytimes! In­stead of see­ing fat people chow them­selves to death we’re watch­ing a piece of pop cul­ture eat itself. Grip­ping (insert here sar­casm mark™)! Show me someone club­bing the sides of their shocked face with both hands, please.
00:09
The up­shot is that the pink team has to choose who will be the stu­dent and the mas­ter among all the other teams.
00:11
Lots of jowls work­ing now.
00:13
Goodness Mig­daila is upset that she was picked as the master. Bob is try­ing to get her to be angry; try­ing to get her to let it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?!?!??!!!!!??!!!, but she, hav­ing basic dig­nity (dignity that is aside from vo­lun­teer­ing her obesity and per­son­al anxi­et­ies as a spec­tacle for the Amer­ic­an masses), is hav­ing none of it.
00:14
Now Bob and Jill­ian are doing some sort of psy­cho­lo­gic­al pro­file of Migdaila, at which point they’ve de­cided they do not want her to “alienate” her­self any longer. Has any­one on this show ever read a book? That said, both train­ers are wear­ing very at­tract­ive sweatpants. I’d be hard-pressed to choose which ass is snackier. (Frankly Bob’s.)
00:15
Now … the stu­dent has be­come the master. Sur­pris­ing music cues; lots of echo, reverb, and synth bass. Jill­ian has perched, vulturelike, on a tread­mill in order to psy­cho­lo­gic­ally rape Migdaila. “Who takes care of you?” asks Jillian; “Me,” says Migdaila.
00:16
Oh my God they’re going to ruin this woman. They won’t let her pee. She has to do some sort of lean­ing squat. This is ba­sic­ally a pris­on situation. Abu Gravy. Oh the humanity.
00:18
In fact, the ap­peal of this show can be traced to the Hinden­burg disaster: People love to watch blimps explode. Watch­ing Jill­ian and Bob ana­lyze Mig­daila re­minds me of teen­agers strategiz­ing as to the best way to tor­ture their peers; they tell her how fat she is, and how fat her daugh­ter will become. Mig­daila fights back with sul­len­ness while jump­ing up and down for exercise. “Why did God build that emo­tion into you?” Jill­ian asks about crying but Mig­daila says that cry­ing makes you weak. Oh my God they are going to force this poor woman to cry.
00:20
Your feel­ings are meant to be felt! If you don’t ex­press your feel­ings you will be oh God this is an af­ter­school special. They are not going to be happy until they make this woman admit that she hates her­self and watch her cry out loud. This is psy­cho­logy as prac­ticed by people who read only text messages: “2 LOL first u must COL!” Watch­ing dull people hec­tor other dull people to cry and “be brave” is a spe­cial kind of hellish punishment.
00:22
“Why are you not happy? Be brave! Right now!” For all that is holy.
00:23
Side pro­file of Jill­ian as she tells this poor woman in her green shirt to “dig in” and begs her to cry. “Talk,” says Jillian. “Give it a voice. PLEASE.” Interestingly, her con­cerns for this woman are sur­pris­ingly close to the con­cerns of someone mak­ing a good net­work tele­vi­sion show. Fi­nally the woman is crying—but quits the show and stomps away.
00:24
They picked on the fat kid enough that she’s en­tirely upset. She’s drift­ing away in green. Now TV must now re­solve the prob­lem it cre­ated when it star­ted run­ning so many KFC ads all those years ago.
00:26
The green team is speak­ing angry Span­ish be­hind closed doors. And Bob, at Jillian’s insistence, is running to tell Mig­daila in green not to leave the show.
00:27
Bob as­sures Mig­daila that he is going to help her get her head straight. Being an ex­pert on straightness.
00:28
“I’m here to help you,” says Bob. Sweep of strings. “Now let’s hug it out.” Bob’s nipples erect as he leans in for the hug, either in real­ity or my imagination.
00:29
The nice ex­iled blue-team ladies in Houston, TX, are going to the spin class at a megagym. Everything wrong with Amer­ica right there.
00:30
The green mile guy is crying.
00:32
The pink team is made up of women who look ex­actly like troll dolls.
00:33
Let’s take this belly to the bank (TTBTTB, or TTBx2): The re­main­ing brown-team twin is shil­ling Wal­greens hardcore. They just said Wal­greens about sev­en­teen times in a minute, talk­ing about ways to ice their badly swollen chubknees.
00:34
We are in­tro­duced again to Aus­trali­an celebrity chef who can­not break through in Amer­ica Curtis Stone, who looks like a seven-year-old who just got out of a go-cart. I defy you to re­mem­ber this man. He’s the Clark Kent to Alton Brown’s Superman. But he shows us 8,894 cal­or­ies worth of food; Mi­chael (not wear­ing a headband) says he used to eat that at a meal and every­one is all like oh, well there you go. That’s why you weight 500-odd lbs. At which pt. we in the audi­ence go, “who the hell are you to judge?” Be­cause cruel judg­ments are in this con­text the sole do­main of the audience, the only power we exercise.
00:36
Curtis is cook­ing chicken. TTBx2: he shills Muir Glen (now part of Gen­er­al Mills!) fire-roasted tomatoes, a fairly reas­on­able product place­ment esp. as they’re no-salt-added. A woman on the black team then tells us how great Muir Glen fire-roasted to­ma­toes are, and how they are her new secret weapon. Me too. I’m going to use them as a suppository. This show makes it clear that a major part of los­ing weight is learn­ing to choke down a great thorny length of cor­por­ate prong. It may not taste as good as chocol­ate cake, but it’s good for your fu­ture ca­reer as a mo­tiv­a­tion­al puppet.
00:38
They’re learn­ing to eat four-ounce pack­ages of chicken! Good for them. I am also a big fan of four-ounce por­tions of chicken.
00:39
The Mom is telling Mig­daila to chill out and stop being such a bitch, which is I swear to God ac­com­pan­ied by strings and the sort of jungle drums usu­ally re­served for open­ing cred­its and heli­copter flyovers. There is more crying.
00:40
I deeply miss the com­mer­cials when watch­ing a down­loaded pir­ate ver­sion of the show; they’re a blessed re­lief from the unremitting—oh Jesus they’re car­a­mel­iz­ing onions.
00:41
Bottom ban­ner tells us the Jay Leno show is next, as if to prove that we are cursed by God.
00:42
Now it’s the challenge: they’re play­ing with long ribbons. One per­son stretches the ribbon; an­oth­er per­son will then have to re­trieve the ribbon.
00:44
Lots of heavy breath­ing as rib­bon is woven through a playground.
00:45
It looks like a may­pole fact­ory was bombed by terrorists. Es­pe­cially with people rolling about on the ground, cram­ming them­selves into small crevices. A col­or­ful disaster. This is good TV, though. Shiny, with lots of motion.
00:46
Oh my good­ness the stu­dents are going to have to undo the slyly en­twined rib­bons of their teach­ers who I say who could have seen this com­ing they are so clev­er this is such a well-edited program.
00:48
They have blind­folded clumsy obese people and forced them to re­trieve ribbons. Is there such a thing as a dig­nity re­lease form?
00:49
Blindfolded contestant: “When my mom kept say­ing ‘see the ribbon?’ that was frustrating, be­cause I could not see the ribbon.” That team did not get far.
00:51
The guy in red is a com­mer­cial diver and has in­sisted far too many times—almost as many times as the green mile guy has cried—that he will kick ass. But the gray/Tongan team has kicked the ass of the red team. Go Tonga! Work off that spam? There is tre­mend­ous scream­ing and ohgol­lies and hands waving. No men­tion of the com­pany that made the ribbons.
00:54
Jillian is hanging off of something screaming. She is so good at perch­ing and clapping.
01:00
The Tongans are beat­ing up on Mike, telling him he needs to take advantage; needs to start working. Mike is very defensive. This is a tiny speck of genu­ine drama. You’ve got the tough-love-football-loving dudes pound­ing away at the sens­it­ive de­press­ive vir­gin­al man-mountain des­per­ately cling­ing to his pride and mother.
01:08
Oh my God there’s a lot of scream­ing now. Don’t lie to me! Bob yells. Every­one is hold­ing their own hair. This is a big thing in this show, show­ing people put­ting their hands into their own hair. And clearly there is dev­il­ish strategy going on as that one woman has lost but one pound, while her hus­band the com­mer­cial diver lost 12 lbs. Much defensiveness, &c.
01:10
Michael lost 10 lbs off his 471. Not good; he is disappointed. If they send him home this show will lack one com­fort­ing goon with whom I, as sad test­a­ment to my adolescence, identify.
01:12
I really do miss commercials. They are like balm to soothe the bruises left by the emo­tion­al bat­ter­ing ram of the editing. Michael’s Mom is crying, beg­ging them to let him stay here. There’s a good deal of beg­ging on this show. People are, we know, reduced.
01:13
She says: “They’re going to kill my son.” Who is this they?
01:18
They are de­bat­ing wheth­er it should be Mi­chael or Maria to go. Meanwhile, the news re­ports that train­er Jill­ian is down with mak­ing love to other ladies. This is ac­cord­ing to an in­ter­view in which she said that she doesn’t care who you love as long as you do love. This is not a bad mes­sage at all; GLBT people de­serve the same love and rights as anyone. But it has been turned, by the media, into “Jillian’s-a-rugmuncher.” I think Jill­ian is interesting. She is a bright­ish per­son who is des­per­ately try­ing to cre­ate something moral out of a world of turd in which she is deeply embroiled. She has a mes­sage re­gard­ing help, self-love, and acceptance, but it will be ut­terly com­prom­ised by the de­mands of the lar­ger system. She knows this but can­not stop things or slow them down, and is con­vinced that she will triumph. Cer­tainly the people com­ing up to her on the street say­ing they love her will not con­vince her otherwise. She would do well in polit­ics if she had the desire. She’s ob­vi­ously too lib­er­al and sharp to go very far, but imagine: “Jillian Mi­chaels will whip this state into shape!” I mean this. It would work. Wait ten years. Also Maria is going home, leav­ing her 500+lb son to drift lazily in the pool without his be­loved mamma to tuck in his belly­flap at night.
01:21
Maria is to swim. Her fam­ily comes to see her paddle about; they have big horsey smiles. She is now, we see, a mere slip of 230 lbs., 10 of them makeup and 20 jewelry. If she wears all that in the pool she will sink. Her hus­band cheers for her as she des­cends the pool ladder; he says: “Who need the noodles now, eh?” (I need the noodles.) And she is nowhere near done with this process, she tells us. The op­por­tun­ity has just begun. Her life has been changed. And one day, she prom­ises in VO, she will swim in the ocean.
01:22
God save us all.
'' 60 2
'' 130 1
'' 0
6/5
250
Total 3,034 (3,034)
O/s [2,100] 934 (934)
2010 January <Jan 19 Jan 21>