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The Biggest Loser and the Roman Coliseum

The internet world has been abuzz lately with the finale of the show The Biggest loser for this season. Apparently the girl who won, lost a significant amount of weight in a rather short amount of time.

Can I make a confession? I’ve never watched an episode of that show. I’ve never watched an episode of hoarders. I’ve only seen one episode of intervention.

Which, begs the question of why, why haven’t I watched any of these shows that have “inspired” millions and coincidently made millions, if not billions of dollars?

Quite simply, because I am afraid that we have made entertainment out of people’s maladies. We’ve turned people’s problems into entertainment for the masses.

I’ve heard most of the responses:

“I watch because I’m inspired!”

“ I watch because I like the stories of overcoming.”

“I think it’s amazing to watch the transformations…”

Honestly, in my opinion, who cares? That is the wrong criteria to be deciding what we should be supporting.

We need to consider if the means that we are receiving our inspiration is right or wrong. Is it wise to sit back and be entertained by someone with a mental illness (hoarders, intervention, etc).

I’m afraid these shows highlight out societies obsession with the wrong things. We use the TV to anesthetize our own existential issues. We can safely sit on our couch and watch Mary Jane Watson from Tacoma West Virginia and thank God that our house isn’t as messy as hers.  We can watch Gwen Jones from Bloomsburg, Minnesota struggle to go from “morbidly obese” to anorexic like skinniness all in the name of health...and let's be honest, some fame.

I’m not sure we’re all that different from the Romans and their coliseum.

The story being sold is that our society is becoming obsessed with weight loss because we want people to be healthy. But let’s be honest, we kind of like the fact that we can fat shame.

Shows like this, allow us to sit back and just thank whatever higher power we pray to that we aren’t like those people. They allow us to perpetuate the myth that fat people must be lazy or that hoarders can just choose to get rid of things.

We make profit (or help others make profit) off of their misery. We can indulge in our own worship of the body and whatever “sexy” currently and feel like we have the moral high ground because we’re taking part in a system that “helps a person improve their life.”

The ends justify the means, right?

Except that they don’t.

We have to demand more.

More of society. More of ourselves. More of those we choose to make millionaires and billionaires by giving them our money.

I realize that you may disagree with me. In fact, I fully suspect that many people will disagree with me. That’s one of the reasons, I’ve been putting off writing this post even though it’s been bouncing around in my head for a long time.

I just want more. I want to leave my kids a world that doesn’t teach them that it’s OK to judge someone or be entertained by someone just because the other person is heavier than they are or has a mental illness.  

I want a world that really sees other people as neighbors, not as sources of entertainment.

 

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