Stop Mocking Chris Christie about His Weight

Why is it okay to be cruel to conservative men?

I don’t like Chris Christie’s politics, and he seems like an unpleasant fellow when you watch him interact with other human beings on television. Yet for all his faults and the politics on which we firmly disagree, I still feel great sympathy every time some wise-ass pundit or comedian makes a tired joke about his weight problem.  It just isn’t funny.

I cringe whenever Bill Maher brings up Christie on his HBO program, Real Time, because I know that two beats behind Christie’s name is a cheeseburger crack. It’s as inevitable as Maher’s impatient, dour look after one of his jokes falls flat.  Most of the people who mock Christie are like Maher, comedians and entertainers, but I can’t help think if his politics were different (he’s conservative) or if he were a woman, he might dodge the relentless, personal taunts.

Men are cruelest to other men, and some of us live in masculine worlds where the silent playground rules still reign.  Even in this advanced age, men are supposed to “take a joke.” At some point, I think, many men stopped making fun of “fat women,” because it’s obviously cruel, yet men never seem to feel any problem being thoughtless to other men.

Liberals claim to be the embodiment of tolerance, understanding and compassion, yet there is a segment of liberal establishment who think that calling out fat people is a good thing.

I work in a male-dominated environment, and I’m also (charitably) a chubby guy. Men I’ve worked with have called me big boy, fat ass and far worse.  I laugh it off, or I call them something equally demeaning. The back and forth cruelty is a strategy, and I engage in it to hide how unpleasant it makes me feel. Fat jokes are designed to make one category of person feel less important, even less human. Christie brushes off the jokes and the barbs, but even the casual observer should be able to see how much it pains him.

The other upsetting aspect of the constant Christie criticism (for me) is that it often comes from people who should know better.  Liberals claim to be the embodiment of tolerance, understanding and compassion, yet there is a segment of liberal establishment who think that calling out fat people is a good thing. The overweight need to “eat less,” they might say, and take better care of their “health,” as if mockery is a backhanded favor.  I think all the talk of “health” is just a smoke screen for bigotry. The reasons obesity is on the rise in the U.S. are complex and defy simple explanation.  Most fat people don’t like being fat, and certainly hate being mocked about it.

I bend left in politics, but I think my fellow liberals should know better.  I am also a man, and think that men should treat each other with more kindness.  It’s okay to dislike someone’s politics, opinion, and choice of football team without resorting to cruel, playground taunts.

Perhaps I should forgive Bill Maher for his constant cheap shots at Chris Christie, because, he’s a comedian, except that his jokes at Christie’s expense stopped being funny or original a long time ago.

 

Read more on Body Image on The Good Life.

Image credit:  DonkeyHotey/Flickr

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About Edwin Lyngar

Edwin Lyngar is a writer and author living in Reno, Nevada. He graduated from Antioch University in 2010 with his MFA in creative writing and also holds an MA in Writing from the University of Nevada Reno. His essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Bellingham Review, Ontoligica and RoleReboot. He blogs about parenting, family life and writing at www.edwinlyngar.com and is in the process of finding a home for his first book, a memoir, titled Guy Parts.

Comments

  1. “Liberals claim to be the embodiment of tolerance, understanding and compassion, yet there is a segment of liberal establishment who think that calling out fat people is a good thing.”

    Liberals are far from what they claim. Liberals invented the thought police. Liberals invented political correctness…..No group of people exhibit a greater double standard than liberals.

    If you’re ex Gov. Eliot Spitzer, you get a free pass and your own talk show. If you’re ex Gov. Schwarzenegger, you are vilified. If you’re Don Imus, you’re ridiculed.

    It all boils down to politics. If you are part of the elite liberal establishment, the world is your oyster.

  2. It’s not just Bill Maher (who’s pretty abrasive to begin with). It’s also Jon Stewart (who isn’t), and there are probably a half dozen other comedians and commentators. I too cringe when they break out the “Christie is fat” jokes (even when those jokes are funny, and some are) because I’ve worked in an Obesity Research Group, and know that the shame, desperation and alienation that an obese person feels is equal to that of any of us when we’re shamed or ridiculed or mocked for our most personal public embarrassments.

    And that ridicule is pretty relentless for the morbidly (or even moderately) obese. Most of us would not make fun of an amputee, even if that person cut off his own arm in a foolish accident. But we feel no remorse when making fun of someone else’s weight, even when we know that that person’s humanity is every bit as valuable and valued as is our own.

    Unfortunately, obesity remains one of the last forms of socially acceptable discriminatory practices. But we can work on this. It would be nice if political conservatives and political liberals would agree that obesity is a serious public health issue in our country and that making fun of fat people does nothing to alleviate the problem, but I don’t see any conservative commentator (or columnist) making that point, including “Jules” from the comment above. At least your commentary is an indication that we liberals can use some improvement and do a better job of making fun of bad or foolish behavior rather than appearance.

  3. AnonymousDog says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out, that in many ways, modern day liberals are the social and political descendants of the Puritans, who were, after all, the liberals of their own time.

  4. Women too cop the fat jokes though. Hate the politics, not the body.

  5. Excellent! :)

    Speaking as an apolitical guy: As if there aren’t any fat liberals … ;)

  6. Although it doesn’t appear do so, you must have slept through the Clinton years.

    • I considered discussing the Clinton years, and I remember them well. I especially recall the Saturday Night Live spoof of Bill going to McDonalds while on a jog. I would argue the insults directed at Christie have been far more nonstop and cruel in comparison to President Clinton. I could be wrong, but I would also say the vitriol level is far higher. But your point is well taken.

  7. These smucks Maher and Stewart aren’t newscasters, they’re not even commedeians (at least not in the genre of a Chris Rock,Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, etc.) Their really like Frat House Bullies. Don’t thrsr assholes relize how they make almost every overweight person watching them feel when they take these cheap shots at ANYONES weight? If you dislike the politics, fine, go show how truly brilliant you are and rift on that instead of cheap jokes a chimp could come up with !

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