Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

More Conversations with the Comments (From Rich Dutcher)

Rich Dutcher, co-author of the Familiar Men introduction, drops in to provide his personal male perspective on the discussion:

Dan’l, I too remember Charles Atlas, as the skinny unathletic kid being promised the ability to trounce bullies [much more important to me at 10 than impressing girls!] I suspect about half those ads were for fat boys and half for skinnies.

What’s changed in the last 20-30 years is the intensity of the fetish. Charles Atlas just wanted to sell us a booklet. Soloflex wants us to sell each of us thousands of dollars of equipment, and that advertising is more prominent, more sophisticated, and a hell of a lot more effective.

Just look at the movies. From the 30′s well into the 60′s, a handsome shirtless man is, by current standards, soft and unbuffed. Steve McQueen in Great Escape vs Brad Pitt in Troy.

And of course it’s your fault that you’re fat, just as it was my fault I was weak and unathletic, it’s the poor’s fault they’re poor, queers choose to be deviant, heretics choose to be depraved, etc. ad nauseum. Social Control 1A: Distract, Divide and Divert. That game is probably embedded in the primate social strategies we inherited through Homo erectus.

But wow! Now we can use these traditional emotional and social hooks to convince people to give us money!

All the issues – sex, gender, race, class, ability, justice, poverty – coexist in the same world. They were always related, hard as that is to deal with. But now that the art of strip-mining money out of our vulnerabilities is being perfected, work like Laurie’s and Debbie’s is critical.

Follow the money … :-(

James,, awareness and tolerance (or any kind of “better” behavior) aren’t, in my experience, consequences. They are more an improved statistical correlation. Awareness allows people to make connections among the various systemic indignities and unkindnesses in their lives, and as most people want to be nice, it improves their ability to be nicer.

But blinders are blinders. I have heard Harlan Ellison, for instance, follow a heart-felt and sincere rant for more tolerance with a vicious anti-fat joke. When he was called on it, he didn’t know what people were talking about.

My own experience, watching Laurie and Deb work over the last 20 years, is that my eyes have been completely changed. I don’t see either men and women the same as I once did.

But am I any less a “looks-ist” than I once was? On many levels, not really. My standards of beauty have changed, but not the fundamental preferences. I am, however, more catholic in my tastes … ;-)

(I realized, in contemplating your question about makeup, that I don’t know any women who spend an hour a day on makeup. Those who use it at all use the minimum amount to avoid comment [which requires skill but not much time]. So I have no useful information.)

–Richard

One Response to “More Conversations with the Comments (From Rich Dutcher)”

  1. Dan'l Says:

    Hey, Rich, long time no.

    Not really taking issue with anything you said, but divagating a bit on it here and there.

    You’re right, of course, that the intensity and quality of the advertising has increased as the price of what’s being marketed has ditto; but there’s been more than pamphlets for quite a long time: surely you remember the Jack LaLanne teevee show? And I only used Chas Atlas as an ikon; equally ikonic were the sports figures we were told to idolize: in my day, this tended towards baseball players, Joe Namath, Cassius Clay (as he was called then), Mark Spitz (who?), and a few others: Manly Men, with Manly Muskles.

    Yet … you’re certainly right that the Manly Man stars of earlier times were a bit less extreme: John Wayne was no Ahnoldt. (I place him and Stallone at the rough dawn of the modern superbuff-look era.)

    And forsooth and fershoor, divide-and-conquer is the name of the, uh, thingy. “Get the fatties and the faggots, the spics and the nigras, each looking out for their own interests, and they won’t unite against US — and WE can look out for our own.” As THEY have always done.

    And in the onebrightshiningmoment department: wasn’t there a time, thirty years and change ago, when feminism and poverty-rights and gay-rights and just-plain-treating-people-decently were all part of something nebulously called “the movement” or “the revolution?” As Pete Townshend asked, plaintively, “What happened to love? What happened to peace? What happened to all that lovely hippie shit?”

    (Or was it real? I don’t know … I don’t seem to recall that the youth of “the ’60s” [meaning the period from '63 to '74] were actually any kinder to or more tolerant of fat, scrawny, or “ugly” people than people before or since then…)

    Yeah, we have some genetic drivers that lead us to prefer certain physical types. But, dammit, if genetic psychology has proven one thing, it’s that the will of the genes does not rule us: we defy our genes every time we use a contraceptive…

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