Jewish World Review Dec. 7, 2001 / 22 Kislev, 5762

Ian Shoales

Ian Shoales
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Consumer Reports

Conspiracy by the 'fat suit' lobby? -- I was watching SMALLVILLE the other week...

Yeah, I watch SMALLVILLE. Wanna make something of it?

I was watching SMALLVILLE, which is about Clark Kent when he was in high school, and his secret identity was his ONLY identity, before he decided to go into uniform, if you know what I mean.

The story involved a high school girl of weight, you might say, who had issues around that-- guys at school teasing her, low self image, etc.

One of the premises of the show, if you haven't seen it, is that green kryptonite not only gives Clark extreme flu-like symptoms, it also has odd effects on humans.

It's kind of confusing, frankly, but the gist of it is that humans with strong desires, when exposed to green meteor fragments, mutate into beings who can fulfill can their desires using supernatural powers. It's analogous to the MONKEY'S PAW-- You get your wish, but at a price. Clark's gonna punch your clock at some point, for one thing.

In this particular case, the girl became a svelte little number overnight after ingesting kryptonite in a smoothie, but the price was a great hunger. She became (in the words of one of the characters) a fat sucking vampire, consuming the body fat of a deer and one of the boys who made fun of her. She's about to suck the body fat from her date when Clark stops her, and Smallville is safe once more. Good show! Kind of like the X Files, only with proms.

But it got me to thinking. The television show, being on a schedule, couldn't demand that the actress playing the person of weight gain the weight, like Robert De Niro or Rene Zelwegger, so the producers put her in prosthetics, what is commonly known as a "fat suit."

And I realized that "fat suits" have become a kind of Hollywood phenomenon. There was Eddie Murphy in THE KLUMPS, Austin Powers as Fat Bastard, Gwyneth Paltrow in SHALLOW HAL, Julia Roberts in AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS, Courtney Cox in FRIENDS, Michael Jackson in his inexplicable Halloween special, Martin Lawrence in BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE, Martin Short as Jiminy Glick....

The mind boggles. There are more actors in fat suits than extras in PLANET OF THE APES.

What does it all mean? I have no idea. It's probably just one of those Hollywood flash floods-- a trend sweeping through the zeitgeist, like earthquake movies, meteor movies, full length digital animations about ants, and Freddy Prinze Jr.

On the other hand, it could be a conspiracy by the fat suit lobby. They're very powerful, you know. And they like to throw their weight around.

JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2001, Ian Shoales