Friday, April 16, 2004

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the myth of the "Hollywood Heavyweight"

For those of you who don't have anything fun to do this weekend, I strongly rebeccommend that you see "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" at your local theatre. I interpreted it as a lovely testament to the importance of not shoving unpleasant memories out of our heads, to the validity and invalidity of impulses, and to the value of pursuing ventures even if you know they won't accomplish anything so long as they bring you joy. That sentence was convoluted, but it would make more sense if you'd seen the film. It may seem like the director is being weird for the sake of it at first, but I promise that all the loose ends are thoughtfully put together by the end.

And Elijah Wood is totally hot. No, seriously. Even when he's playing a hobbit or a dude who steals underwear or Huckleberry Finn, he's terribly irresistable. (What? He was only 12 when he played Huck Finn? Whatever, dude.)

The main female protagonist in the film was played by Kate Winslet. Now, call me crazy, but I get a little confused when high-quality entertainment publications like Parade or Entertainment Weekly or People denote her as a "Hollywood Heavyweight," or, less euphamistically, a "Fat Lady in the Acting Business." Especially around the time "Titanic" came out, the media was congratulating itself for allowing a woman as "large" as Kate Winslet to be portrayed as sexy. I've also heard the Hollywood Heavyweight designation attached to Christina Ricci, Alicia Silverstone, and Melissa Joan Hart (of "Clarissa Explains it All" fame).

I'm not usually one to attack such well-traversed exigencies as the media's unrealistic expectations for its women's bodies, but c'mon folks. When an industry is patting itself on the back because Jennifer Lopez and Beonce Knowles, two thinner-than-normal-sized women, have defied the waif norm and still found success, we've obviously dug ourselves into a ditch too deep to simply crawl out of. At this point we need a rope ladder.

Almost any girl or woman (or boy or man) with body image issues can tell you that magazines and TV and movies alone aren't enough to induce self-hatred and eating disorders. But I think we can all agree that it helps.

I don't really have a thesis or solution or point to this rant. I guess I just get increasingly frustrated with the conflicting messages disseminated to young people today. (A) It's good and attractive to be thin. (B) We should accept people for who they are, even if they're so overweight that they're endangering their health. (C) You should eat at McDonald's. (D) But you should get the salad.

Perhaps I'm most perplexed by the adversarial relationship humans have developed with food. Rather than using food as a means of fueling our bodies, we decide to wage The Pleasure of Eating against The Tragedy of Gaining Weight.

I reiterate, I don't have a conclusion to offer. I just don't think that Kate Winslet has ever been too fat.


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