Fattality and Thinicism
Kevin Smith is a famous guy who had/has a famous problem. Last Saturday afternoon the filmmaker, raconteur, wit and citizen-journalist stood an excellent chance of catching an earlier Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland back to Burbank. The problem emerged when someone in authority decided to prevent his fortuitously early departure by citing his girth as a reason to reject him from his standby seat on that earlier flight.
The inside skinny has been thoroughly detailed here (at SModcasts 106 & 107): http://smodcast.com/109-100.html
and littered around various lax media outlets from Huffington Post to Good Morning America, but the probem Kevin Smith faced, explored and expanded into a national (maybe international) public relations fiasco for Southwest Airlines really concerns the continuing struggle between irresponsible corporations and Consumers of Shame.
A Southwest Airlines employee decided, last Saturday afternoon, to flex a little authority at an available target. That victim has turned out to be a fat guy who has earned the attention of millions of people. Smith’s spontaneous ire at the slings and arrows flesh is heir to was barked into an open mike, and for the past half-week, a minor media circus has resulted.
Now an anonymous airline employee (possibly the very one who actually was responsible) will either be offering a personal apology to Kevin Smith or he/she won’t. The only certainty I’d like to offer is that corporations came into existence precisely and specifically in order to deflect the necessities of personal liability for the decisions and actions of corporate representatives…so the illusion of personhood in the form of Southwest Airlines may simply (and irresponsibly) stop talking about Smith’s problem, expecting it to go away.
Fat, (ex-?)smoker, profane, celebrated, smart, talented, middle-aged…; the characteristics of Kevin Smith are each of them vulnerabilities that may (in any given context) outrage a particular authority sufficiently to flex cowardly power from the cover of a corporate cloak of invisibility. But apart from his global audience, and the ability to speak with them, the characteristic that makes Kevin Smith the wrong canary to fuck with is his relative comfort with himself. He’s famously less-ashamed of himself than lots of the rest of us are, and speaks for an ever-widening variety of people when he flat-refuses to be casually persecuted, because NOBODY IS as NORMAL/REGULAR/TYPICAL as random, thoughtless bureaurats require us to be.
The Kevin Smith vs Southwest Airlines media debacle may evaporate into memory in the next couple of minutes, but The Problem is going to persist.
Fat is one small part of The Problem; subordination and shame don’t seem to result in obedience like they used to.
Fattality is a state of mind in which I’m reasonably okay with who I am.
Thinicism is the kind of ridiculously unnecessary cruelty I visit on myself and other people, when I don’t like who I am. Thinical people are more obedient than fattalists, and that’s the heart of The Problem that was lying in wait for Kevin Smith at Oakland Airport on Saint Valentine’s Day; a dose of the FU2 virus. Ironic.
I think the first victim of abused authority is personal dignity. Apart from the wit, intelligence, fame and the talent to tell several stories I’ve liked, Kevin Smith’s character balked like a nightmare at an instance of cowardly, corporate thinicism; the kind of creative hero I really, really like, admire and aspire to emulate.
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