Monday, June 23, 2008

Was George Carlin Fat?

I just saw on the news that George Carlin died today. Now he could make me laugh and he could make me cringe and he sometimes wasn't very nice to fat people. I won't link to the video of his rant against commercialism, consumption and over-indulgence which he unfortunately ties to being fat (and seems to be universally labeled on YouTube as his bit on "Fat People" when it's surely about much more) but it's out there and though I think he can be very, very, funny (see the video below for one of his milder pieces), he was out of line with this one. Thin people over-indulge too, they buy too much, and eat junk-food and drive cars that are too big, and wear shirts that say "I'm with Stupid." Of course Carlin seemed to enjoy being out of line, saying the things no one else would, but I think the power of his good rants were that there was truth to them. That Carlin had found a grain of truth in a situation that hadn't been seen before, but in the case of the fat rant, I don't think he really understood what the truth was. He went for the cheap laugh at the expense of those who were different without digging for the nuggets of truth.

Carlin died from heart disease and if you look at the videos on YouTube, you'll see he was a man who was always thin. We can't know what contributed to his death at a relatively young age of 71, but it certainly doesn't look like it was fat. I wonder if people will be suprised by this.

I'm still kind of fascinated by the fact that thin people often get a free pass on watching out for their health. I think it's dangerous to have so thouroughly associated thinness with health that people don't worry about the other risk factors for heart disease. When do we ever hear people talking seriously about stress reduction techniques? Where's the latest best selling book on meditation or the public service announcement on progressive relaxation techniques?

George Carlin seemed to be a man who lived life with his light shining brightly so I hope he did the things he most wanted in life and said the things he most wanted to say. The many times he did get it right, he often pushed the boundaries in ways that made me think and stretch my brain and I think he'd be pleased with that. What I've seen of his work often made me laugh, frequently made me uncomfortable and sometimes made me mad but I'm glad I watched it.

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