One of my favorite entertainment columnists is Jeffrey Wells from Reel.com. Anyway, he wrote something last week about Shallow Hal that I thought was really interesting. Let me quote from it. It talks about the movie, and I don’t think it gives too much away, although I haven’t seen it so it’s hard to say. Anyway, here’s the snippet:

    • What’s wrong with Shallow Hal? One, it double-deals and two, it draws an inaccurate conclusion about homely, ugly or massively overweight people necessarily being nicer or more beautiful inside than others.

Hal double-deals by playing it sensitive on one hand, saying people should try to overlook appearances (and obesity in particular, since Paltrow’s character’s condition is front and center), but at the same time wringing cheap fat jokes out of Paltrow’s enormous size. It’s saying to us, “Don’t laugh at fat people or treat them as anything other than the good folks they are” while also bellowing like some beered-up guy in a bar, “Whoa … look at that fat ass!”

Full disclosure: I have this exact reaction myself (although I keep it under my hat) when I run into a morbidly obese person. When I’m in a restaurant and someone walrus-sized walks in, there’s a voice inside of me that silently asks this person, “Haven’t you had enough?” Most of us, I’m sure, like to think of ourselves as sensitive P.C. types in our attitudes about corpulence, but I suspect most of you also harbor reactions similar to mine when it comes to those who’ve seemingly expanded beyond the pale. That’s why people at the screening I attended were laughing so loudly at the Farrellys’ fat jokes. Uncomfortable feelings are often alleviated by laughter.

And this isn’t just knee-jerk prejudice. People come in all sizes and should learn to be happy in their own skins, but who would argue that obesity isn’t unhealthy and unwanted by the vast majority of those who suffer from it? I’ve known a couple of 300-pound guys who got this way partly because they eat entire pies at a sitting and wolf down bag after bag of Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies. Spokespersons for organizations like NAAFA (National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) can talk until they’re blue in the face, but they aren’t going to convince me that many (or at least a good percentage of) morbidly obese people have been hitching a ride on their fat-is-cool bandwagon.

And who says homely, ugly or obese people are necessarily beautiful inside? They can be, of course, but they don’t have to be. Here’s how it works with women, in my view. We all have different standards of attractiveness, but let’s accept that most guys have a grading system of some kind. My general rule of thumb is, the women with the most desirable inner character — the most resourceful, steadfast, intellectually developed, caring, loyal and most witty are the ones who come from the middle ranks.

This applies mainly to younger women, since getting older tends to bring about character development in even the most beautiful women. And thank goodness there are myriad exceptions to the rule in every category. But generally women who are regarded as overly pretty or attractive tend to be less developed and generally weaker on character issues, and women seen as too unattractive tend to be more susceptible to lethargy or bitterness or other “down” tendencies, and can therefore wind up as wrapped-up in themselves as overly attractive women frequently are.

It works like this, pretty much: Women with AAA and AA ratings (in Los Angeles these tend to be actresses, models and trophy girlfriends) are the worst, since their families and boyfriends and others have been making a huge fuss about them all their lives, and as a result they haven’t been sufficiently encouraged by life’s natural adversity to develop inner resources. A’s and A-plusses can fall prey to this syndrome also, but less dependably.

The best wives and girlfriends tend to come from the ranks of the A-minuses to the C-plusses, because they’re flawed enough (which is to say only slightly, or not that much) in terms of looks to have developed themselves in terms of character or intellect, but not so flawed that guys don’t find them attractive. Women with C to C-minus appearances and on down tend to have problems attracting men all their lives, and this can unfortunately lead to compounding problems in terms of self-esteem and everything that flows from that.

I realize I’m going to get some angry letters about this, so let’s acknowledge again that there are all kinds of exceptions and combinations to this formula. It isn’t likely that you’ll find a woman with AA looks but with the kind of character development more commonly found in a woman with a C-plus physiognomy, but it happens and praise be to that. I ran this by a female MGM publicist recently and she agreed with all of it, adding only that the formula also tends to apply to guys.

The point about Shallow Hal is that after the Tony Robbins conversion Jack Black is continually turned on to women with supposed inner beauty. The fact that they’re all dogs of one species or another does not, if you subscribe to the formula, means they’re necessarily beautiful inside. In fact, the odds are against it.

Maybe you think that’s offensive and whatever, but what I liked about it is that it was honest and blunt. And, maybe you’ll hate me for this, but I kind of agree with it.

Parts of it, at least. Here’s what I agree with most – that “ugly” people are not necessarily nicer, kinder people inside.

I’m pretty sure I wrote about this before. But I’ve always rejected being “cool” and that whole “cool” culture and intentionally preferred people who weren’t “cool”. And what I used to think in junior high and parts of high school was that the non-cool people were better. They didn’t do all that stuff (smoking, drinking, sex) that “cool” people did and weren’t into other stuff like gossip, materialism, and whatever like cool people. Yeah, I know, this “cool” hangup is one of the defining marks of my childhood.

But anyway, I was seriously disillusioned. I can’t quite remember what it was that did it. But what I realized was that non-cool people aren’t necessarily different. The only difference is that they lack the social know-how to do what cool people do. Could they do what cool people did – good and bad – they’d do it. They’re no better. It seriously disillusioned me.

So yeah, ever since then, I’ve totally not been on the people on the bottom are better than the people on top thing, in its myriad forms. Like the idea that ugly people are necessarily better people. I’m really against Marx also. If I understand it correctly (I “read” the manifesto frosh year) his basic idea is that the lower masses were better than the upper, more noble, more good and whatever. I think that’s completely wrong. Just, the foibles of the upper are magnified because they’re in control. But they’re equally bad at heart.

So yeah, I heartily reject any notion that says people below are necessarily better people than those above.

Maybe I’ll get in trouble for this but I also agree with the stuff he says about women. I dunno, it’s just my opinion, but I feel like in general, girls who are attractive kind of are less developed in a lot of ways because of that, be it character or whatever.

For some reason, beauty is more important for females than it is for males. It’s not really fair, but that’s the way it is. Like, look in a “men’s” magazine (like Esquire or those Playboy-lite mags like Maxim) and you’ll see pictures of half-naked women. Look in a women’s magazine and you’ll see pictures of half-naked women. I dunno, to me this just shows that there’s a much greater emphasis on female beauty than on male beauty.

What I feel is that oftentimes girls who are attractive consciously or subconsciously realize that they can fall back on their beauty so they don’t develop in other ways. Like, I dunno, a friend was telling me how he went clubbing and it’s frustrating because it’s impossible to find an attractive girl who’s nice at a club. I think there’s something to that.

Dunno if you ever heard this but there was supposedly some survey done by a magazine and it was saying how Stanford women were ranked low on the list, but Stanford men not so low. No idea if it’s true. And that obviously doesn’t describe me and my male friends, since pictures of us look like promo shots for the Addams Family (I’m Fester). But I kind of believe it. Just (and don’t kill me, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard), you don’t expect to find tons of attractive women at places like Stanford or Harvard. They’re there, just less than at “lower” schools.

I dunno, what I think is, in general, guys aren’t allowed to fall back on their looks and are pushed more, including academically. That guys are generally pushed more than girls by their teachers is actually an observed phenomenon according to my psych classes. That’s actually a really interesting subject – the effects of priming and education but whatever; point is, studies have shown that guys are pushed more in school. Not fair, but that’s how it is.

Girls are pushed less academically and my claim is that attractive girls are pushed even less. Just, less is expected of them. And, generally, less of them get into the “top” schools. It’s not that they’re any less intelligent. It’s just that they haven’t been pushed as much to develop academically. I dunno, I’m getting into big trouble here but that’s just what I think.

Anyway, yeah, you can slam me if you want, but I tend to agree with Wells, at least as it applies to maybe academic development. The top ones tend to be the ones that rate in the middle in attractiveness, whatever that scale is. I think there’s some truth to the character thing that Wells talks about also.

But yeah, there are tons of exceptions. Notably Jieun, whose character I admire more than anyone’s and who is hotter than habanero. Yow.

Here’s one thing I hate. It’s when people say generally something is true and make particular judgments based on that. I don’t know if that makes any sense. But specifically with marriage. Like, sometimes people will say, this group of people is generally like this, which I don’t like, so I will definitely not marry someone from that group.

Maybe it’s not that black and white but it’s something like that. I dunno, I’m totally against that because it makes no sense. You don’t marry a group of people or a generalization, you marry an individual. And no individual exactly matches a group generalization. Some are total exceptions. So you can’t make sweeping decisions like that because in the end, you marry an individual, not a group. If that makes sense.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you told me 7 years ago that I’d be marrying an L.A. Korean I would have laughed and/or spit in your face. Just, many Korean girls from L.A. are a certain way that’s not necessarily bad, but just something I don’t jive with. But yeah, Jieun’s not like that at all. Just superficially, she never says “sooooo” seriously. She can survive outside of L.A. And she stopped pronouncing my name “Denny” a while ago. She’s perfect for me, and years ago, given where she’s from, I never would have expected that.

So yeah, you can say all you want about how you can’t marry someone from so and so group because whatever, but in the end, you marry an individual, not a group, so who knows who you’ll end up with.

Anyway, yeah, it’s kind of hard being an attractive girl. As for guys, it’s a lot more consistent. All guys are slime and immature. I have yet to find an exception to this rule.

I’m going to get slammed hard for this entry, I know. Everyone thinks I’m an elitist, sexist jerk. Oh well. You win some, you lose some. No idea what that means.

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