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Michelle Obama, The Biggest Loser, and the compliant press - Input Junkie
October 17th, 2013
06:49 pm

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Michelle Obama, The Biggest Loser, and the compliant press
Michelle Obama is going to be on The Biggest Loser, a show which promotes cruel and unreliable methods of weight loss. The link goes into some detail about why the show shouldn't be given added prestige, but here's the bit I want to highlight:
It [an article included in the link above] wasn’t meant for this blog, but it’s now been turned down by three major media outlets. It wasn’t meant for this blog, but it’s now been turned down by three major media outlets. Not because they disagreed with us, in fact all three said that they agreed with the article. It was denied in all three cases because the White House wouldn’t like it, they were worried about damaging their working relationship with the White House, and because it it made the First Lady “look bad and out of touch.” That confused me since I think the problem is that the First Lady IS out of touch, not that I’m pointing it out. And why does the media believe that, in America, we should be scared to question our government?

A petition asking Michelle Obama to not appear on The Biggest Loser.

I considered "lapdog press" for the subject line, but it's a somewhat old-fashioned cliche, and it's probably unfair one way or another to lapdogs.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1020598.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:whswhs
Date:October 17th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
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How about lèse majesté? Both parties have shown increasing tendencies to treat the president as a damned king.
From:paulshandy
Date:October 18th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
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Which is one reason, but not the only reason, why Bush is worse than Reagan, and Obama less effective than Bill Clinton. The press isn't the watch dog they used to be.
[User Picture]
From:whswhs
Date:October 18th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
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I don't think it's only the press that's at fault in this.
From:paulshandy
Date:October 18th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
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The First Lady shouldn't lower herself to their level. The issue should be healthy living, not quick fixes that will lead to rebound weight.
[User Picture]
From:elenbarathi
Date:October 18th, 2013 02:30 am (UTC)
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'Lapdog press' sounds right, and since actual lapdogs neither read articles nor own media outlets, I don't think they'll be too offended by the term.

Since when does the First Lady go around making appearances on game shows, anyway? How tacky is that? Sheesh, what's next, 'America's Next Top Model'? The Jerry Springer Show? 'Survivor'?

Nobody in this country - not even the teens - needs to be told that obesity is unhealthy, or crash dieting is just as bad and only gives temporary results. They know it already, just like they know that smoking, driving drunk, unprotected sex and doing meth are all Bad - they've heard it all their lives, from every media outlet. I seriously doubt that even one teen (besides her own daughters) is going to base her decision to crash-diet or not to crash-diet on whether or not Michelle Obama thinks it's a good idea.

There's an extremely simple way to stop kids from being influenced by crap television shows, and that is to simply not have television. It worked great with my kid; many other parents report similarly positive results. The plain fact is, there's absolutely nothing on television that anybody needs to watch, and a whole lot that young people in particular would be better off not watching. A lot of parents try to make rules about what and when the kids can watch, but usually this just leads to a lot of arguing and sneaking, so I say just get rid of the whole thing. Don't they have anything constructive to do?

Edited at 2013-10-18 02:31 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:agrumer
Date:October 18th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
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Before you know it, the First Lady will be appearing on a popular sit-com to talk about drugs!

Maybe a presidential candidate will have a cameo on a comedy show, or talk about his underwear on MTV. O tempora! O mores!
[User Picture]
From:elenbarathi
Date:October 18th, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
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Haha, see what one misses through not having television? "Don't Touch That Dial!"

... oh yeah, they don't have dials any more, do they?
From:paulshandy
Date:October 19th, 2013 09:41 am (UTC)
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I have my weaknesses where television is concerned, but for the most part, I agree that television isn't worth the time or money people put into it. Even when it comes to the news, I read a lot faster than people talk (most literate people do) and when I'm reading a book or magazine I'm not wasting time with commercials or talking heads filling time. Readers are always better informed than viewers.
[User Picture]
From:harvey_rrit
Date:October 18th, 2013 06:39 am (UTC)
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Um, because Obama sics the IRS on anybody who criticizes him?
[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:October 18th, 2013 11:00 am (UTC)
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That probably isn't it-- I'm willing to bet that "maintaining a working relationship" isn't a euphemism. What specifics do you have about the IRS and Obama?
[User Picture]
From:harvey_rrit
Date:October 18th, 2013 11:11 am (UTC)
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Well, during the 2012 campaign the IRS refused to certify as nonprofit any fundraising outfit that wasn't contributing to the Obama campaign. Those that supported him got a free pass whether they qualified or not.

Then there's their harassment of people known to have anti-totalitarian views who are so much as slightly well-known, demanding that returns be filed, in spite of the fact that some of those people have made roughly forty thousand dollars total, all added up, since the turn of the century. Like, say, me.
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From:sodyera
Date:October 18th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
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She obviously sees nothing wrong with torture. That's what they do to the people on that show.
[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:October 18th, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Most Americans see nothing wrong with torture. That being said, the way contestants on TBL are treated definitely counts as torture.
[User Picture]
From:elenbarathi
Date:October 18th, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
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"Most Americans see nothing wrong with torture."

I really don't believe that's true, even if most Americans aren't concerned enough to take action about it. Most Americans don't even take action about things that affect them directly: how many have called or written their Congresspersons about health care? Not a majority, you can bet.

The way contestants are treated on 'The Biggest Loser' is doubtless cruel and unusual. However, it's not torture, for one simple but crucial reason: it's consensual.

Nobody drags those people in off the street against their will. They had to work hard to get in there, and certainly had to sign about a zillion waivers affirming that they knew what they were getting into. Nobody is keeping them there against their will, either; they can quit in a red-hot minute any time they want. So what's the problem?

BDSM isn't 'torture' either, even the hard-core kind that most people wouldn't even like to hear described, let alone watch, still less experience for themselves. If there was a game show all about that, people might very well refuse to watch it or let their kids watch it, and think it was utterly tacky and inappropriate for the First Lady to appear on it and congratulate the winners, but they'd be wrong to pity the poor contestants for being mistreated. The same is true of The Biggest Loser, however distasteful it may be.

It might be considered a quibble, but I think using the word 'torture' to describe consensual activity devalues it as a descriptor for real torture committed on people who didn't sign up for it, aren't getting paid, and can't just walk out.

Edited at 2013-10-18 08:24 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:nancylebov
Date:October 19th, 2013 10:44 pm (UTC)
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As far as I can tell, after the Abu Graib photos came out, most Americans were in favor of treating the prisoners that way.

Your point about consent is interesting, and possibly valid. I believe that if people were non-consensually treated the way contestants are on TBL, it would be torture.

The quality of consent the show gets isn't very good-- ex-contestants are under heavy contractual penalty if they talk about the actual conditions there.

"Torture" might be excessively strong language.
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