Okay, so I finally saw Shallow Hal, only about 2 years after it was released. Quite a hot-button issue in the fat community with a lot of people making judgements sight unseen, myself included. You know what? We were right, and we didn't need to watch this garbage to know that.
Everything that upset people at the time was entirely accurate. The only problem was that some people expected us to be won over by the heartfelt ending. They refused to admit that we had a right to see it as condesending and insulting. I'm sorry, but "I love you anyway" just doesn't feel quite as nice as "I love you" no matter how much you want it, too. The movie's producers seem to be missing a point even made in the movie. Just because a conditional love is offered doesn't mean a fat person won't see through it.
Still, the real devil is in the details. Oh, forget the absurd sight-gags that really upset me before I saw the film. The just plain stupid attention to detail is what really irked me. They actually seemed to have the Rosemary character down at a couple points, but the character kept contradicting herself. I mean, we do see her being realistically self-conscious when showing off her lingerea to Hal, and that felt very honest. But, the scene before she is being the same way about wearing hot-pants and a belly shirt in front of her parents. I mean, I understand where the character is coming from, but I also don't get why a self-apologizing fat person would even own hot pants or a bikini. They made her apologetically fat when it was convenient and uncompramisingly fat when it was convenient. There was just no consistancy. I'd have found it all much more satisfying if her character had been more defiant and self-confident. Or, at least give us reason to think Hal is giving her such self-confidence. I just didn't see that developed, so it all felt pieced together.
And honestly, 1 boyfriend? I mean, I know it happens, but still, its not that common either, is it? Again, the movie just promotes a ghetoization of fat people rather than challenging those perceptions. It pretends to be unconventional, but only after it makes time to acknowledge all the conventions. Heck, even the Peace Corps was a stupid plot point, since they actually wouldn't allow a woman like Rosemary to participate. I know the Peace Corps was really just a punch line, but its a reminder of just how shut out fat people are.
And I still can't get around the "in spite of" ending. Give us something. Some acknowledgement that there ARE people who would honestly find Rosemary beautiful. We're here. Get used to it. But no, she's doomed to "in spite of" and told to be happy about it. All the movie really does, then, is to defend the status quo and only dare to suggest the perfectly conventional message. Safe, perhaps, but nothing edgy about. Just more of the same. Give me "Inclusive of" any day over "In spite of".