Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Amused to Death

201.6 lbs

Lowest.Weight.Yet! I've got three weigh ins left before binge day. 200 lbs really seems more feasible to me now. Number wise, this week has been very interesting because of the consistency (1.4 lbs each day). It really has not been that way over the past few weeks, we'll see tomorrow if it keeps it up.


In the early 90's, Roger Waters (former singer/songwriter for Pink Floyd) recorded an album called Amused to Death. The album was conceptual in nature, as it is with all Waters albums. Roger found great inspiration in a book written in 1985 by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves to Death. Postman posited that our society had more in common with the dystopian vision of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where the populace was oppressed by an addiction to being amused, rather than Orwell's vision of state oppression in 1984. Waters created a landscape out of this idea where monkeys sat around televisions switching channels and mankind was destroying itself all for entertainment sake. The skeletal remains of our species were to be found years later by alien anthropologists who determined the reason for our untimely demise was that we had amused ourselves to death.

The whole of the album shows the power of the media both good and bad while simultaneously illustrating our descent into complacency with real world examples. Powerful stuff. More and more I believe Postman was correct even though he comes off as an elitist prig. But let's not attack the messenger shall we? Especially when I can find so many examples of his critical assessment of Western society all around me.

I told you yesterday about how much I loathed the television program Ruby for a great many reasons (my friend Laura probably hates it even more than me I think). What I didn't tell you was that I did a lot of research on the show for my post. I really try to avoid blindly criticizing people I don't know - especially in print. Sometimes, I feel so wound up and pissed off that I try and seek as much balance as possible for my own sanity and sense of fairness. Maybe more things should get under my skin, I don't know. I really tried to seek some balance for my deep resentment of Ruby.

Upon doing my research, I read comment after comment on various articles and message boards. People love Ruby and identify with her - the adulation was kind of scary. But why were they so ready to embrace one of the most self involved human beings on the planet outside of Charlie Sheen? Many of the women saw themselves as being just like Ruby because they had struggled with weight too. A sad thought occurred to me, are there really that many 500 lb women in the United States? I don't think so but I do think there is a lot of projection going on. I do hope they find the show helpful but I am not sure that is true. One thing I failed to mention, in detail, was that it is pretty difficult to gain 60 lbs over a 3 month period without overeating beyond what most people would consider overeating.

Now kiddies, pull up a chair, Grandpa has a story for you. In the early days of the internet when people used to use crazy things like Alta Vista and Excite to navigate the hundreds of web pages available then (that new fangled Googly Moogly thing wasn't even a glimmer in anyone's eye yet), there was one website that did crazy experiments and posted about it each day. This was way before those fancy shmancy bee logs you kids use.

I wish I could find the site or remember the name but I do, however, remember one particular experiment. That experiment took two paid volunteers on a journey into gluttony - The Weight Gain Experiment, one man and one woman. They were to stay in an apartment and eat themselves silly (no exercise) and have daily weigh ins. I must mention that both participants were average height and weight for their gender at the beginning.

After the first week, the guinea pigs gained very little so the guy running the experiment tried to step it up the next week. Even after eating everything in sight and becoming rather ill after doing so, they gained only a handful of pounds. There were pictures of everything from the couple in their skivvies to all the food they ate over the whole 4 week period. Both people wanted to quit after awhile. To me, it was the equivalent of watching a dad buy a carton of cigarettes after catching is kid smoking and forcing the kid to smoke the whole damn thing in one sitting. Smoke up Johnny!

These people weren't eating foods they hated, they were eating foods they loved and lots of it. They certainly gained weight over that 4 weeks but 4 weeks after that, they were almost already back to normal. That tells me a lot. It tells me that 8 weeks of changing my eating habits to lose 30 lbs is nothing compared to the length of time it took for me to get into such a pickle. No one wakes up the next morning and screams, "Oh my God, I'm fat! How did that happen?"

I really think if the producers of Ruby truly cared about their obese fan base, they would stop the show in the middle and go completely black with a message that reads: "Go out and take a short walk and come back to us and think about how that made you feel - send your response to our website and we'll do it again next week!" Now that would tell me that they truly truly cared as much as people think they do. Oh but I forgot, they are there to amuse all of us who can't pry ourselves away for five minutes to even go to the bathroom. Hey DVR's are pretty cheap, so you could have your cake (so to speak) and your Ruby too. Now isn't that a thought.

But Waters and Portman were right, we don't want to miss a thing or readjust our lives even a little for the idiot box or any other form of idle entertainment we have created for ourselves. Turmoil surrounds our nation and what do we care about? Do we want to hear what the President says about all of the crises, some of them unprecedented, around the world? Nope, we want to know who Mr. President has picked for his NCAA brackets! Oh and we desperately must read about the latest celebrity meltdown, we might miss some tragic celebrity death we can chew on for the next six months as we gnaw on our Pop Tarts and drink gallons of Coke.

Now, it seems, we can't even excuse our own President in this matter. While Middle East regimes fall into chaos, shooting freedom loving citizens along the way, and while Japan, one of our best allies, is turning into rubble and radioactivity is drifting towards our shores, Mr. President is headed to that hot bed of world turmoil and political intrigue, Rio. I can't blame him because I know when my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio, De Janeiro! (sorry couldn't help myself).

Now, I am not taking a political swipe at the President, it's more of a pragmatic swipe. Maybe I am a political neophyte but I think the world direly needs his leadership here instead of some rally in Brazil. I certainly do hope that giant Jesus he is planning on visiting reaches down and smacks some sense into him. If I were conspiracy minded, I would think he was going down south of the equator to avoid something even worse than everything else that has been happening. Maybe I am a bit cynical but I really can't see how giving a political rally in Rio trumps everything else going on at the moment. Maybe it's time to start digging a shelter while the President tries to stay amused.

Now, let's see, what is the rest of our great nation worried about. Hmmm, could it be the mounting death toll in one of the greatest nations on earth? I wonder... Could it be the suffering people of Libya? Nope. We are worried about a sushi shortage. Egads stop the presses! How will I ever live without my caterpillar roll? I sure hope it isn't tainted with that icky radiation stuff.

There is an old playground ditty that goes: "Girls go to college to get more knowledge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider!" Grammar aside, I think it is wrong on one other point: why go all the way to Jupiter when you can just stay right here on Earth and get the same effect?

"And somewhere out there in the stars
A keen-eyed look-out
Spied a flickering light
Our last hurrah
And when they found our shadows
Grouped 'round the TV sets
They ran down every lead
They repeated every test
They checked out all the data on their lists
And then the alien anthropologists
Admitted they were still perplexed
But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise
They logged the only explanation left
This species has amused itself to death"

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