October 23, 2017

Why the “Dear Fat People” Video Isn’t Funny

  • by Dr. Emma Kate Wright
  • September 22, 2015
  • 0

For those of you who don’t know about the viral video “Dear Fat People”, self-proclaimed comedian Nicole Arbour wanted to provide a #truthbomb to overweight people, specifically obese people, so they would make healthier choices. Unfortunately, instead of being funny, Arbour’s video is highly offensive to many.

Briefly, some of the statements Arbour made within her video were:

  • “Fat-shaming is not a thing, fat people made that up.”
  • “If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I am okay with that.”
  • “You are killing yourself.”
  • “If you want to be positive to your body, work out and eat well”
  • “Plus-size stands for plus heart disease, plus knee problems, plus diabetes.”
  • “I don’t feel bad for you because you are taking your body for granted.”
  • “I am saying this because your friends should be saying it to you.”

Obviously these comments are extremely controversial, so Arbour was recently invited to ABC’s daytime talk show The View to discuss her video. Co-host Whoopi Goldberg started the conversation by asking Arbour if she knew that a lot of people were offended by her video, and Arbour said that the “video was made to offend people… It’s just satire, I’m just being silly.” Co-host Joy Behar commented that Arbour would need to make fun of herself first for the “comedy” to be accepted, but she can’t do that because she isn’t overweight. Interestingly, Arbour spent the majority of her time on The View taking the heat from the show’s co-hosts, and she only made one attempt to defend herself. Specifically, Arbour shared that she felt she would have received less public backlash for her video if she were a male comic. Regardless of whether her point is valid, clips from Arbour’s response video to the backlash from “Dear Fat People,” as well as her statements on The View, show that she is unapologetic.

What I find so interesting about the “Dear Fat People” controversy is that Arbour claims in her video that she is making it to encourage people to be healthier, and yet all she does is criticize and attack people. Further, her video shows that she clearly doesn’t understand satirical comedy. She wasn’t using irony, she wasn’t witty, and she was just making fun of people with bad jokes.

In my opinion, her approach was distasteful for two key reasons. First, Arbour makes broad, generalized statements that imply if you are overweight then you are lazy, which attacks people’s character. In reality, there are a number of non-health related factors that can contribute to poor diet and exercise habits, and I think income is the biggest one. If you don’t have enough money to afford healthy food options and/or a gym membership, healthy choices are less feasible. Society needs to realize that being overweight is not a reflection of who you are as a person. Second, the combination of discussing a sensitive subject (i.e., weight and appearance) with comments like “you are killing yourself” is never going to be funny. Why would Arbour ever think that people would have a good “LOL” over someone’s early mortality because they are overweight?

Basically, Arbour’s video fell flat because it doesn’t have comedic substance. I hate to say it, but there isn’t much advice that I could give her to make this video funny, #truthbomb.

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Dr. Emma Kate Wright

Emma Kate is highly knowledgable about celebrity culture, trending youtube videos, vines, and online celebrity cats. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in School Psychology at the University of South Carolina. Emma Kate enjoys working with children and their families to help strengthen social skills and self-esteem.

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