Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's Not Over 'Til the Fat Girls Sing

Warning: May contain spoilers!

I watched the film Fat Girls for the first time a couple of days ago...a film I have wanted to see ever since I first read about it being in production (over a year ago). And, whilst not all its scenes are entirely successful, or necessary for driving the 'plot' forward, I rather enjoyed it as a whole.

The story is centred around a high school student named Rodney (Ash Christian who, aged 20, also wrote, directed and co-produced Fat Girls), who thinks of himself as a 'fat girl'. Here, 'fat girl' is a synonym for outcast or social pariah, although it's a little bit deeper than is anyone that feels awkward or different...anyone who feels like they were never destined to 'fit in'. Something that I'm sure we can all relate to, having all passed through that 'teenage misfit with hang-ups' phase (no matter how popular, no matter how big one's social circle, I am almost certain that we have all felt this).

Rodney's best friend is an actual fat girl ("but not just on the outside...on the inside too") who lives in a trailer with her mums. Early in the film, they are joined by a third 'fat girl', a Cuban refugee adopted by an African-American family, named Rudy. This is one of the film's failings, in my opinion; the fact that it tries too hard (but then, maybe that is fitting after all!) with its unusual list of characters - a teacher called Seymour Cox (yes, really) who Rodney happens upon dragged up as Liza Minelli, a mother who "everything she cooks in the house has a religious affiliation, so it's not very filling" (e.g. holy hamburgers and Jesus jambalaya), dad's death whilst having sex with a "midget woman". Oh, and it stars that token old lady - who you may remember best singing Rapper's Delight in the film The Wedding Singer.

On the other hand, Fat Girls often feels a lot less self-conscious than such films as Napolean Dynamite (the characters here are not so 'special', are more just regular, gawky teens) or Juno (with its contrived one-liners and pretentious, if good, soundtrack). The fact that it is a little bit dreadful in parts could hardly be more apt...the film itself seems a tad awkward, as if it is finding its own identity, just like its characters. There is a scene in church that perfectly captures this, followed by a scene with Rodney wiping his mouth on a Star Spangled Banner in front of a room full of Sunday School children - a blink-and-you-may-miss-it moment that is a brilliant touch. Somewhat less brilliant is the character of English (although he sounds more German!), slutty twink.

Rodney, in the final moments of the movie, concludes that "Being a fat girl is being comfortable being yourself. I finally found my inner fat girl. And I like her - she's totally cool." It's just a shame that he had to wind up in bed with his teacher to discover this...that just plays to all the nasty stereotypes out there!

Watch if you like: Napolean Dynamite, My First Mister, Juno, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Ghost World.

If you are a friend or regular reader, you may well know that I am something of an FA (check out this post on fat positive songs, for example) and so I thought what better opportunity to share with you some videos from two of my favourite YouTube 'fat girls'? I have been looking for an excuse to post the Chubbygirl27 video below for ages!

Contemplating My Navel - ChubbyGirl27 (Emily)

Emily - The Darlings (look out for more from the fantastic wee POP! records later this week)

Emily - Adam Green

A Fat Rant - joynash1 (Joy)

Totally Awesome - joynash1

Joy - PJ Harvey

Joy - Lucinda Williams (you should also search out the fab Bettye Lavette version of this, from her brilliant covers album I Got My Own Hell To Raise, if you haven't already heard it)

Plastik - a fat positive, animated take on body image and the media

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