The Fat Women and Bill O’Reilly

I was going to leave behind that storm in the tea-cup but it won’t go away. It’s there, on the TV, in front of me every time I go to the gym. Besides, it may have a cultural meaning, or several meanings, after all. So, here it goes:

Last week, the television host Bill O’Reilly got into a tangle on “The View.” It’s a morning show for women. (More below.) What happened is that two of the three fat women show hosts walked out on him because of something he said. They walked off their own show, like that!

First, O’Reilly. He has an evening television program that’s very popular, one of the most popular in the nation, and his simple-minded books are bestsellers. He is a blow-hard, not very well-informed, a little obtuse, and stubborn. His English is uncertain although he obviously spends his morning coffee time reading the dictionary. He is also clearly an Irish-Catholic prude of the worst kind. With all this, O’Reilly is very effective when he decides to right a scandalous situation nation-wide. Several times, he has put the fear of God in lazy, or malevolent, or dishonest state legislatures and forced them to do the obvious or the obviously needed. He used forthright terror in each case and named names.

Now, “The View.” As I said, it’s a women’s show. It comes on a ten on the Pacific Coast. (That’s why I catch it a the gym and only there and then.) It’s designed by women for women. The hostesses are five women. One is Barbara Walter, an old journalist who has been over-rated all her life. Yet, she is a reasonable women although lacking in general culture. She has had the immense good sense to invest her large media earnings into her continued good appearance. She looks nearly as good as she did twenty years ago. I respect that. Barbara is a classical moderate DC liberal. The second hostess is a fairly foxy blonde who plays the token conservative very well although her lack of bulk is probably a handicap. The three other hostesses, one white, two black, are fat. They are not “somewhat overweight” like most of us, they are frankly fat. None of the three could buy her clothes in a department story if she had to. One is a brassy New-York-sounding woman whose name escapes me, and it does not matter. She wears maternity clothes year-around. The other is a black woman with a pretty and sweet face and a sweet disposition most of the time. She often displays common sense. The last member is Whoopi Goldberg, a very large black woman who used to be a good actress. She became a media person years ago by making shocking statements no one expected from a black person. She learned to be an African-American white upper-middle-class oral radical with little ghetto on her.

The show consists of these five women giving their opinions and discussing them among themselves, mostly about events on the front page of USA Today and in the evening news. There is a formula to the show, I think: Four parts of “same young actress arrested for DUI, and male celebrity beating up live-in girl-friend for the nth time;” one part political happening. They are not well-informed on anything they discuss; their opinions are without interest; their conversations are superficial to the point where it’s painful. The show is quite successful as I said. It’s Lifetime Channel masquerading as information.

I realize this all sounds bitchy. It’s bitchy, fairly so, but not especially condescending to those who watch The View, or O’Reilly for that matter. I too watch trash, almost every day in fact.

O’Reilly, known to be a fairly abrupt guy, was discussing the planned “Islamic Center” near Ground Zero with the women, who had invited him. At some point, he said, “Muslims killed us on 9/11.” That’s what caused two of the three fat women to walk off their own show for a few minutes. Here is a logically parallel statement:

“A dog bit me.”

Apparently, we are not supposed to make this kind of simple declarative utterance anymore. Instead, we are expected to say something like this, “A mean dog- that is not representative of dogs in general – bit me.”

See the ridiculousness. Of course, we should let not such bullshit pass, ever. Rational people must not submit. They must piss on political correctness wherever they encounter it in daily life. I do my bit every morning, right downtown of the People’s Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz. The girls at the coffee shop ask me discreetly, “The usual?” “Yes – I confirm- give me an Americano in a non-recyclable paper cup. Make sure it’s not fair-trade coffee. I like my coffee beans grown by scrawny, sickly little indigenous farmers.” I feel that, with this bit of satisfying childishness, I contribute to collective sanity.

The View is so successful because it performs an important social function many smell but no one talks about. The bulk of its attraction is its bulky women. Let me explain.

Most American women have trouble with the Green Dragon. Who would not? The media they watch, their movies, the women’s magazine they have to look at at the hairdresser ( or at the “spa”) overflow with young women, and with other not so young, displaying impossible body geometries. Many actresses are so improbably designed, they would not fly if they were airplanes. Things were not always like this: Take a good look at pictures of Marylin Monroe in her glory days and you will see a woman of modest proportions whose flesh hinted slightly at flab. There was no trace of muscle on that woman. Had she not died so unfortunately, she would have entered shortly into her physical decline. She was very attractive, I think but she was an attractive flash in the pan by today’s standards. Why,today, the epidemic of female pulchritude on our screens is ever spreading! Even television journalists with a law degree and a former career would have won the bikini part of the beauty contest in 1960. It does not seem fair!

The main thing to remember is that feminism has failed utterly in its overt message: Women want to be sex objects, not less so, more so than before because of the progress of leisure time. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at any Victoria’s Secret product and ask yourself if the company is successful.

So, if you want to have a morning program, and therefore, one squarely aimed at women, you face a severe dilemma. On the one hand, you have to provide many stories about the usually loopy behavior of highly sculptured media and movie female stars. In addition, you must talk about the villainous conduct of even more finely sculptured male stars. The first one procures a chance to say, ” tsu, tsu, tsu.” The second gives women opportunities to enjoy the sensuous pleasure of indignation: “What an absolute pig!” That’s a sure recipe. It’s been followed forever by (morning) soaps, the Life Time Channel, and all American general women’s magazines but one (Vanity Fair.)

On the other hand, the constant exhibit of supernatural beauty leaves ordinary women high and dry and it puts a bad taste in their mouths. As we know, women in America are often harried by too many different tasks and most are overweight, and increasingly so. And those I would not consider overweight in my limited, silly male vision consider themselves overweight anyway. So, what to do: You administer a drug that is habit-forming but that makes the users unhappy in the long run?

The answer given by The View is original. It stages fat women doing the right thing during the short segments of the show that deal with serious issues. You chose fat women who will invariably disapprove of what’s wrong, who support what’s right, who are always on the side of common liberal decency. You chose loud women, like Whoopi Goldberg (who is also articulate). You chose them mostly black as a mute but strong demonstration of the inherent open-mindedness of the show. It’s not that their corpulence is tolerated or ignored. Rather, your spokeswomen for all that is right and against all that is wrong have to be fat.

The View gives fat women everywhere gravitas in lieu of the stunning, ravishing, man-annihilating fantasies they would probably prefer.

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
This entry was posted in Cultural Studies, Current Events and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Fat Women and Bill O’Reilly

  1. Dear Jacques:

    I read with interest (and a smile on my face) your most recent commentary on the “View”, Fat Women, and Bill O’Reilly.

    I watch the O’Reilly show almost every evening, and I don’t agree at all with your characterization of him. I believe he is a well-informed individual. He tends to say things as they are–no nonsence or bullshit. He calls the “pinheads” out by name, as he does the “patriots”. To my way of thinking, he is a “breath of fresh air” on the current politically immature and stagnent airwaves…

    Moving on… I will probably now sound like something out of an old Woody Allen film, but I wish to make a point–call me Woody if you wish…

    My comment now refers to the recent comments I’ve been making about anti-semitism on your blog, and your subsequent replies to me.

    I believe that a small piece of your commentary on the “View” does a good job in supporting the points I’ve been trying to put forward.

    In describing the women on the View, you refer to one of them as “a brassy New York woman, probably Jewish…” Thus you have characterized a negative personal characteristic (brassy) as a Jewish trait–I take this as a form of somewhat overt anti-semitism–I’m not paranoid as Woody was in his films, I’m simply trying to make a point… While I might agree with you that she is a somewhat brassy woman, I would not have tied that into her probably being Jewish. I know many brassy non-Jews.

    Not wanting to push this point any more, I’ll simply stop here…

    Keep up the good work (in general).

    Steve
    Carmel Valley, CA

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Stephen: “The Princess and the Pea.” There is New York Jewish way to be brassy. It’s a cultural trait. It belongs in a good summary description. If you don’t know one or two (or ten) I can probably arrange a meeting. I am thinking of a couple of my friends’ ex-wives. In addition, there is a type of predictable East Coast Jewish liberal. Do you deny this or do you think here too that this is an unmentionable fact? That description was integral to my brief description of the members of The View.

      Anyway, you are pussy-footing: Are you saying that the stereotype is invented, does not exist or that I should not mention it?

      I taught for 30 years (like you, probably). Here is another observation: Students with Jewish last names seldom do very badly in class, Cs yes, Fs, no. Did I make up this informal observation? If you think it’s more or less correct do you think I and anyone shouldn’t talk about it?

      At some point of sensitivity, it seems to me you have to ask yourself what side you are on currently.

  2. Lawrence Marcus says:

    Stephen:
    It is not about being Woody Allen like. It might have something to do with the self deprecating Jewish humor by Jewish comedians that all people have been exposed to, especially in America. But I think we both know that it is so much deeper than that.

  3. Lawrence Marcus says:

    Jacque: Regarding the View, not that it is worth all of the time you spent on it, but I couldn’t help but think that the walk out was staged for ratings. And obviously because they have a great program manager shoveling this shit, it worked and America is talking about it for a week now. Meanwhile, as evidenced in the article I sent you yesterday regarding the powerful OIC, their’s is some really dangerous shit going on, and how can the OIC not think that America is studpid and vulnerable , just watch the View.

    • Jacques:

      Having been born and lived in New York for 28 years (Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island), I have a reasonably good take on the New Yorker type, and no, I don’t believe that there is a stereotype New York Jew–a sterotype New Yorker yes, no question there, specifically a Jew no…my parents were very liberal Jews, but I saw no real difference between them and thier non-Jewish liberal friends in all aspects. This is a true personal fact, having been subjected to many (perhaps too many) of thier liberal-political discussions while growing up.

      Under no circumstance would I say that any discussion of Jewish idiosyncrasies, traits or stereotype cannot be discussed by anyone–this goes for discussions containing anti-Semitic connotations also.

      I’m not pussy-footing around with my comments to you–I simply am not getting my point across.

      Talking about Jewish (or any other minority) idiosyncrasy or trait is fine, but when it takes on a negative connotation, not substantiated by fact nor warrented, it is not fine–it is bullshit… Most anti-Semitic retoric fits this latter discription.

      Your example drawn from your teaching experience is fine–it’s probably true, as I have seen also in my years as an academic–yes, of course it’s discussable.

      If I haven’t gotten my point across, I have to throw my hands up in feigned dispair…

      Steve
      Carmel Valley, CA

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Stephen: You keep telling me that your viewpoint should prevail. You don’t give any reason except sometimes your testimony that you were there and did not see it. You seem to have a general objection to both ethnic-religious and sex characterizations but only if they are negative. It makes no sense to me, of course. There is a well-defined, easy to find French type that is good with words, frivolous and unconcerned with facts. Should I kill this knowledge in my mind?

        Brassy, New York Jewish females: In the HBO series, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” there is a married woman who is fat, loud and very vulgar. She is the anti-hero’s nemesis. The context shows with no doubt that she is Jewish. Those who wrote her character are:

        a Roman Catholic;
        b Presbyterian;
        c Jewish.

  4. Lawrence Marcus says:

    Stephen: We haven’t been introduced yet, but I do read your comments and pleas regarding anti-semitism. It is obviously still a problem, and may always be a problem. Why, I am not certain, but like you I have tried to figure it out and look for causes going way back in history. But if you think it is a little problem here, I believe it remains a big problem in Europe and obviously throughout the Middle East. I am heading to Budapest next week and am very interested in the changes with a right wing extremest group picking up popularity there in the last election in Hungary, just since a couple of years ago before the economic picture turned so dreadful. Anti Semitism was rampent at the turn of the 19th Century in Europe and obviously up and into the Second World War. It was just beginning to pick up speed in places like Vienna and Paris in the late 1800’s. I am currently reading two books regarding this period, one is the biography of Jabotinsky named “The Lone Wolf” which I highly recommend all 1800 pages. And the other book is “Fin de Siecle Vienna” which addresses the causes of anti semitism in the late 19th century in Europe, specifically Austria. I highly recommend both of these books.
    For your interest!

  5. Jacques:

    First, I do not believe that anti-Semitism is that big a problem here in the US–it’s rare that I have ever experienced it. So, in reality, the topic is only of academic interest to me, at least here in the USA. Modern day Europe is another matter, of which I know very little.

    Second, I try to look at things objectively without bias–sometimes very hard to do I admit, as I am human. However, I do have many many years of training and experience as a scientist (real science, hard science, not the soft stuff). This has given me perhaps a slight edge in my objectivity–maybe I’m wrong, but I think not.

    Third, I’m not telling you or anyone that my point of view should prevail–it’s simply not my “MO”. Think as you wish, as I will.

    Last, I stick by my comments on the stereotype New Yorker. I would be willing to wager you say $100 towards our favorite charity if you and I would walk together down a typical midtown Manhatten street, stop say 100 people at random, engage them in conversation for as long as you wish, and you pick out those that are Jewish, from non-Jewish locals. Two caviats: 1. Due to the large Jewish population in New York City, you must pick out a sufficient number of Jews from the sample of 100, that your selection exceeds three standard deviations from the statistical number expected by chance (I can calculate that). 2. You cannot select those individuals that are obviously Jewish based on dress (eg Hasidic Jews, or the ultra-orthodox, or those wearing a yamaka), or on the fact that they are speaking Yiddish or Hebrew, or wearing a sign proclaiming that they are Jewish (little chance of that…)

    Of course this is only a thought experiment at this point. However, if I could afford it, and you were willing, I’d buy you a first class ticket to New York, simply to conduct the experiment.

    Jacques, we might even be able to write-up our experiment as a journal article, and submit it to a [soft] social science journal, of which I’m sure you are familiar with, so I would leave the choice up to you.

    Steve
    Carmel Valley, CA

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      With all due respect, the mental experiment you proposes does not address your earlier objection to my statements. Did I ever contend that I could pick Jews from goyim in New York City? Let me help although I really, really should not have to, given your training: There are faces that are immensely more likely to be of French than of any other origin. I believe this strongly. Does this belief logically imply that I also believe I can pick French faces in a European crowd? It seems to me you should give a “yes” or “no” answer to this narrow question.

      I am curious as to what you think differentiates “soft sciences” from “hard sciences.” And what do you think scholar in the soft sciences spend their time doing? I suspect this is a question of considerable general interest.

      • Dear Jacques:

        I hope you’re feeling a bit better then you did on Sunday last.

        In response to your questions on your last reply to me:

        1. No, I don’t believe you can pick out French faces in a European crowd, nor Jewish faces. My thought experiment required that you engage the subjects in discussion. If, as you state, that you can’t pick out Jews from goyim in NY City, then was it by chance that you picked out one of the four members of the View as Jewish??

        2. Hard versus soft science:

        Hard science (such as physics) begins with a set of accepted proven facts known as the Laws of Nature. As an example, we have from Special Relativity that “the speed of light (in vacuum) is absolute, independent of the motion of the source or the observer”. This is a proven fact, as well as many others that exist. On occasion, these so-called facts are modified or dropped, based on new scientific evidence, but not that often. All work done in say physics, must comply to the known laws, or be rejected as non-scientific (eg cold fusion). However, if something, not consistent with the current Laws of Nature, can be proven by say repeated or reproducible independent experiment, then it can change the Laws as we know them now–this has happened in the past–not common, but possible.

        Soft science on the other hand (such as social or economic science), does not have the rigid framework or basis provided by a set of proven Laws. While it may use statistical techniques to verify results within statistical limits, by this fact alone it does not produce absolute results. Thus I consider it “soft”.

        I admit that my discussion above only touches very lightly on the differences, but it does provide a framework for differentiating between hard and soft science.

        Steve
        Carmel Valley, CA

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Thanks. Your characterization of hard science is useful although one wonders how the first “accepted, proven facts” came about. If there is no principled answer to this question, your whole characterization had an unknown connection to the reality of science, hard or soft.
        Moreover, with your description, does the bulk of biology qualify as hard science?

        On the first question, I am facing an issue of simple logic I don’t know how to deal with. Trying again: A I cannot recognize most French faces from other European faces; B I can recognize some faces as French out of a large crowd because they can only be French.
        Are the two statements A and B in contradiction to each other? If they are not, then: A I can’t tell Jews from goyim in New York City and, B some behaviors (almost) only happen in New York city Jewish females specifically.

        With all this, you are right and I am wrong. The brassy woman I was referring to, Joy Behar presents herself ion Wikipedia as an Italian-American Catholic. I was too quick and I was wrong.

  6. Dear Jacques:

    To be very frank with you, I really can’t follow your reasoning or logic on the “face selection” issue–perhaps I’m simply not astute enough for this sort of thing. Sorry about that…

    On a related issue, you are aware that many black Americans are Jewish, most through conversion. You are also aware that Goldberg is a very common Jewish name–thus perhaps you should have choosen Whopie (spelling??) as the [token] Jew on the View… just some “tongue-in-cheek” material…

    Regarding “accepted, proven facts” [in science], here goes:

    In hard science, such as say physics, new concepts generally begin as theories. This generally is followed by experiments of some sort, to verify or reject the theory. The experiments must be independently repeatable, with no contradictory evidence existing–this leads to accepted scientifically proven fact. The technique is called “the scientific method”. Note that this does not close the possibility of future “alteration or modification” of the accepted scientific facts based on the existence of new data.

    Here’s an example of the method:

    1. Observation: The earth is claimed to be warming (ie global warming) based on measurment. We won’t get into the fact that the measurments appear to be biased, which would immeadiatly invalidate application of the scientic method.

    However, let’s continue anyway…

    2. Hypothesis: The warming is man-made.

    3. Perform experiment(s) designed to validate or reject the hypothesis. Here we run into the second problem in applying the scientific method, namely in coming up with a set of valid experiments–I can’t think of any. So, what has been done is computer modeling of the problem–Unfortunately, first, none of the independent computer models appear to agree with each other in thier results, thus violating independent (not really experimental) confirmation. Second, none of the computer models have been rigorously compared to experiment to certify them as generating results reasonably related to the real world–not too good scientifically.

    Last but not least, there exists experimental data that strongly contadicts the hypothesis (eg. the fact that there is concurrent warming of other objects in the solar system not related to earth).

    Thus, based on application of the scientific method, the hypothesis collapses like a house of cards, and is not an accepted scientific fact.

    In general, this is how all our accepted scientifical facts came about. It may take many many years for verification of a theory or hypothesis, but this is the way it works.

    While I can’t answer your question regarding the “bulk” of all biology, I do know that certain aspects of biology do qualify as hard science (eg molecular biology and related areas–those that can be subjected to the scientific method).

    Steve
    Carmel Valley, CA

  7. Pingback: The Fat Women and Bill O’Reilly « Notes On Liberty

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