Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Snake-oil And Nutrobabble

You might well think that with so much real trouble in the world it's a little superficial to worry unduly about T.V. programmes, but every so often the schedules take on a character so horrific that it pushes war, famine, pestilence and the destruction of the planet's ecosystem into the background.

Specifically, there's You Are What You Eat, hosted by "Dr." Gillian McKeith. It has been suggested that Gillian's doctorate is the kind you get by sending off a coupon from a Cinnamon Grahams box with a fat cheque, but I'm less bothered by her qualifications or lack thereof than the fact that she's a whining self-righteous rat-faced Scottish bitch with scruffy hair who makes a living stalking the airwaves peddling snake-oil to the stupid and gullible.

On the "Frequently Asked Questions" page on Gillian's website you can find the following exchange:
Q. The Fast Formula Horny Goat Weed Complex - do I take it as a course of medication? What's the recommended dosage?
A: Follow directions on the label. It may be taken regularly or when needed. It’s food from plants, and thus nourishing to the organs, energising, strengthening and totally safe.

Note the reassuringly scientific tone of "it's food from plants, and thus nourishing to the organs." And yes, the Fast Formula Horny Goat Weed Complex allegedly does what the name suggests - it helps you to get It up. There are probably other Complexes on the website to help you keep It down, stop It pointing off to the left, or make It whistle Camptown Races. Dr. McKeith may sell magic stuff that will make It a size, shape and colour so otherworldly that It looks like something dreamed up by H.P. Lovecraft. As I said earlier, Gillian peddles snake-oil.

Anyhow, back to You Are What You Eat. Every week Gillian visits a fat person who has an unhealthy diet, humiliates them, talks a lot about poo and gives them advice, most of which is blindingly obvious. The rest is just pseudo-scientific nutrobabble*. This week the subject of Dr. G's derision was a woman who, at eighteen stone, was around eight stone (or a complete small person's worth of lard) overweight due to a diet composed entirely of cakes and chips in enormous quantities.

"Stop eating cakes and chips!" cries Gillian. "Eat more healthy stuff!"

"Ohmigod!" squeals the fat person, weeping with gratitude. "Dr. Gillian has shown me that my fatness is caused by eating cakes and chips in enormous quantities, something I did not know already because of my immense stupidity. This will change my life. Or at least reduce the number of cakes and chips in it."

Before that, of course, we have to listen to the scrawny Scottish cow talking about bodily functions. "Do you fart a lot? Are they smelly?" The fat girl shamefacedly admits that, yes, she does, and yes, they are, and is then dragged off for colonic irrigation, which of course we get to watch. Transparent tubing. That's all I have to say.

Later the same evening there was a programme following the experiences of four heroin addicts as they went cold turkey. Live.

I didn't watch that one.

*pronounced "newtrobabble".

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Five-And-A-Half Bugbear Man

The trouble is there are just too many things to worry about, what with the streets of London being full of ugly blokes with beards wanting to cut our heads off, retired terrorists in Northern Ireland whining about not being allowed to form a government despite being blatantly unfit to do so, and all manner of terrifying apocalyptic stuff going around. It's depressing, but taking your mind off it's easy - just watch a T.V. programme about really fat people!

And not just any ordinary fat people. This wasn't some slightly plump mum from Basingstoke needing to lose ten pounds to restore her confidence. This was Patrick Deuel, the Half-Ton Man. When filming began Patrick weighed 78 stone, which translates on my calculator as 1092 pounds, or about five and a half of me. Patrick, unable to walk (or in fact stand up, or lie on his back without suffocating under his own lard) looked a lot like someone piloting his own hovercraft from a prone position. With a life-raft on his back.

Strangely, perhaps because of his helplessness and immobility, Patrick was less disgusting to look at than you'd expect, so you couldn't really begin to hate him properly until you got to know him. Then it became apparent that what we had here was Jabba the Hut, but uglier and without the charm. After being carted off to hospital Patrick lost a lot of weight (about three people's worth to be exact) but still remained convinced that his bulk was due to some sort of tragic genetic twist of fate rather than being down to the consumption of the fifteen thousand calories a day shovelled into him by his wife, who was not only a bit of a monster herself but also clearly completely insane.

The strangest thing about the programme was that nobody grabbed this imbecile of a woman by the ears, slammed her head against the wall and screamed "WHY DID YOU KEEP ON FEEDING HIM, YOU EVIL TWISTED FUCKING MORON!? After Patrick had been allowed to come home (still huge and pretty much unable to get around unaided), his wife had the task of monitoring his diet. It went like this:

Interviewer: "So have you got Patrick on a special diet?"
Wife: "No, not really. It's just a question of counting the calories."
Interviewer: "So how many calories are in that?"
Wife: (Staring blankly at a pan containing five poached eggs.) "I have no idea."

Good luck with the weight loss, Paddy, me boy.