Laurie and Debbie say:
Over at Too Beautiful, we find a blogger’s contempt for what we think is an all-too-predictable story.
We missed the media and internet hype about Steve Vaught, walking across the country to take off some of his 410 pounds and to write a book with a large advance, based on his story.
The only surprise is that it was a book deal rather than a movie deal, and that’s a surprise is that we can hear the soundtrack playing in our heads.
Without knowing the details, it surely sounds like Vaught is a very particular kind of victim: not necessarily a victim of his weight or of his experiences as a Marine or even of the publishing industry (though all of those may be true). He’s almost certainly a victim of the mythologizing of the 21st century hero.
He lost almost 100 pounds. We would have guessed he would lose less. He was unable to agree with his ghost writer about the truth of his own story. No surprise there. And he walked all the way across the country, followed by film crews, and the admiration and hatred of tens of thousands of voyeurs. Almost undoubtedly, the crowds, the adulation, and the abuse all helped keep him from getting what he was actually seeking, and he knows that: “he will do [his next] journey alone. No more film crews and no more distractions.”
The only thing he didn’t do was live up to the mythic fantasy, the one where walking across the country would make him thin, sexy, talented, and irresistible. It’s the same thing that happens to people (usually women) who write books about their great marriage and then get a divorce. Or the almost-Lance-Armstrongs who recover from near-fatal diseases and then don’t win the Tour de France.
The post from Too Beautiful tipped us to what’s happening: “So he blew his book deal, he blew his chance at free publicity, he blew the whole purpose of the trip, he lost his family, and he is still fat. I feel sort of sorry for the guy, but my sympathy is limited.”
This story was never about Steve Vaught, human being. It was about “the fat man,” going up against the myth and failing.
This is America, a culture that rejects the myth of Sisyphus, doomed forever to push the same rock up the same hill. Instead, we’ve chosen the myths of “get rich quick” and “lose weight now,” the ones which end with everyone (at least everyone important in the story) inevitably becoming beautiful, thin, free, and rich.
Thanks to Badgerbag for the pointer.