Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Thrown in your face like a giant cream pie"

The Bert Show has been on Atlanta radio for over a decade. Their tell-it-like-it-is, no bull approach to real issues like parenting, relationships and friendships make them revered by their audience. Most of the time.

The assignment was for each cast member to write an "editorial" that would be randomly selected and read by another cast member. Anonymity was to remain in tact no matter what.

Later renamed "The Cowardly Editorial", this letter tackled obesity while tackling the hearts of many Bert Show listeners who struggle with this issue. The letter was harsh and crude: The Cowardly Editorial and Bert's Apology Letter

Here are some excerpts from The Cowardly Editorial:

"You get offended if you are stared at. You get offended if you are pointed at. You get offended if you are laughed at. Instead of focusing on what’s going on around you, you should be focusing on yourself and shedding a few pounds."

"And all you have to do is walk out your door and it’s thrown in your face like a giant cream pie."

"And here’s a bigger slap in the chubby cheek."

"Oh Wait…you need a break? You’re out of breath? Having a hard time walking up those three whopping stairs? Give ME a break…"

"And don’t feed me the excuse that you don’t have the time. They actually have TVs at the gym these days, so you can peel yourself off your sofa and you won’t have to miss a minute of the Food Network."

"And now here comes the whining. The only thing worse than a fat person is a fat person who whines about being fat."

Excuse me? "THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN A FAT PERSON..."? This line alone completely offends me. Replace "fat" with "black" "hispanic" "female" "Jewish", etc. and tell me if you wouldn't expect an uprising. Is it okay to treat overweight people like that? The flippant, disrespectful tone makes this letter completely unacceptable.

And the opportunity to make good points about a real issue was lost. Was there any truth to the information in the letter? Well, sure. We all know that we need to eat healthy and exercise to look and feel better. We also know that we need to save 20% of our income, but how many of us do that? Some things are easier said than done.

What this boils down to is that there are two ways to say everything:

"Amanda, have you been working out? You look great!"


"Amanda, have you been working out? Because your thighs don't have nearly the same amount of cottage cheese that they did last time I saw you. In fact, that horrific muffin top looks a little smaller, too."

Ahem. Which one is better received? Because both examples paid me the same "compliment".

I know how hard it is to lose weight, and I don't have the same medical struggles that others do. I also don't have a food addiction. I just like fried chicken and Dunkin Donuts. :)

Addiction is real. It's very easy for me to have looked at somebody like Amy Winehouse and said, "Just stop doing drugs!" because I've never tried or been addicted to drugs. I have no idea what that struggle is like. The counter argument is that Amy Winehouse died because of her addiction to drugs...and obseity kills, too. But don't you think that Amy Winehouse would have changed if she could? Do you really think that she planned to die as a result of her addiction? I wonder how the right kind of support would have helped her. And just in case you're wondering, the Cowardly Editorial isn't an example of "the right kind of support".

The author mentioned that they were sick of "political correctness", but there is a fine line between political correctness and common decency. To me, "political correctness" might have kept you from feeling like you could speak on obesity in the first place. But, "common decency" means that you shouldn't character attack and use inappropriate humor to belittle your target.

Especially considering, what, about 60% of Americans are overweight and 35% of those are considered obese? Way to offend more than half of your audience.

For several years, The Bert Show has been a paid advocate for a product called Healthy Trim - a weight loss supplement to help you get "high school skinny". Audience members have called in sharing their weight loss struggles and the cast has been sympathetic to their plight. Now, that sympathy has lost some or all of its credibility. The actions of one have hurt the entire cast. If Tiger Woods can lose a Gatorade endorsement for cheating on his wife, then the Bert Show should lose a Healthy Trim endorsement for offending the product's target market.

To the author of the Cowardly Editorial: Since you claim to be so concerned about the health of your fellow Americans, do you think that your letter helped anybody get on a path to a healthier lifestyle? Do you think they want to eat better and exercise after hearing your thoughts on the matter? Do you still think that all overweight people are lazy? If you do, then I'll have to say that all Radio DJs are stupid.

Lesson learned, Bert Show: Don't bite the hand that feeds you.