I saw two movies in June: Get Him to the Greek, and Cyrus. The former stars Jonah Hill as a music-industry type trying to revive British musician Aldous Snow’s (Russell Brand) career by getting him to play at the famous Greek theater. The latter features Hill as the titular character who spends the movie trying to drive a wedge through his single mother Molly (Marisa Tomei), and her suitor, John (John C. Reilly).
Now, I like Jonah Hill as an actor, but, as I’m sure you’ve noticed from his work, or even if you’ve just seen previews, he is very, very fat. Neither movie mentions his weight, however. In Get Him to the Greek, he has a successful, high-powered career, despite being fairly young. Did I mention he also has a slim, beautiful girlfriend? And she’s a doctor.
His role in Cyrus is a little different. A twenty-one-years-old with a GED (having been homeschooled), Cyrus doesn’t have a job or go to school. His shares an uncomfortably close relationship with mom Molly leads him to do things like (minor spoiler alert) hiding John’s sneakers the first night he sleeps over. Cyrus doesn’t have a girlfriend or potential dates, or even have any friends — probably because he and Molly are reluctant to let anyone else into their little world. Still, no one mentions his weight once throughout the movie, much less makes cheap fat jokes. The audience is supposed to dislike Jonah Hill’s character because of his dishonest and manipulative actions, not because of his appearance.
On TV, it’s the same story. Through the late 1990s-aughts, James Gadolfini’s Tony Soprano had slender Carmela (plus a myriad of mistresses). Even cartoons suck. “The Family Guy” features Lois, portrayed as the neighborhood hottie, who for some reason ended up with Peter, who is not only fat, but really, really, stupid.
“Glee” does a bit better. It does count a plus-sized African-American girl, Mercedes, among its cast (and she isn’t, thank God, forced to play the part of the sassy, fat black chick). But unlike the show’s slimmer actresses, she doesn’t have a love interest.
How many movies, or shows, can you think of, that feature fat actresses? Now how many can you think of where the actress isn’t playing a fat actress (as in, her weight isn’t the focus of the plot, she doesn’t constantly bemoan her weight and people aren’t making cracks about her size)? Now how many can you think of where the fat girl has a really hot boyfriend? Um… zero’s a number…
ABC Family has recently come out with a show called “Huge.” The poster features Nikki Blonsky standing awkwardly in a bathing suit, arms crossed her stomach. Clearly, “Fat Camp” will feature large actresses, but it will also be weight-focused.
It’s worth-noting that Sarah Silverman, a comedian for whom rape and Holocaust jokes are hardly taboo, and who once donned blackface in her now-canceled Comedy Central show, draws the line at fat jokes. As she says, “I don’t really care for like fat jokes about women, specifically… because I feel that we live in a society where fat men deserve love, and fat women do not deserve love — at least in white America. And so I feel like that’s an ugly thing, and it doesn’t make me laugh.”
Of course, outside Hollywood, large women often find love, have relationships and achieve happiness. You’d just never know it from American entertainment.