Friday, April 8, 2011

This week I have been mostly watching: The Biggest Loser Australia

It’s awful isn’t it? The Biggest Loser I mean. The sight and sound of the ‘Reality’ Television barrel being noisily scraped for the last moribund morsel of vacuous entertainment it has to offer.
Well yes, but I must admit that I’m slightly obsessed with it at the moment.
Without a doubt its manipulative; the way the camera pans in accompanied by mournful strings and plinky plonk piano onto the blubbering face of an outrageously overweight man, standing on an industrial sized weighing scales in a pair of unflattering tight lycra shorts as he admits he can’t tie his own shoe laces because he’s just too darn fat, is obviously designed to eke every last drop of sympathy out of you.
And it also can’t be doubted that certain elements of the show are staged and edited out of context.
One audacious example of this from last week is when two of the female contestants were relaxing in the Biggest Loser lounge. One of the women happened to be eating yoghurt; in fact, by pure chance I’m sure, the very brand of yoghurt that sponsors the show.
So the cameraman thinks ‘hmm...let’s take a real good close up of that yoghurt pot’, and the contestant responds by saying, totally unprompted you’ll understand, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this yoghurt is only 71 calories’.
Simply outrageous product placement.
I also find the contestant commentary during the weekly challenges unintentionally hilarious and utterly pointless.
Imagine if you will, the contestant Joe (everyone loves to hate Joe don’t they?  That backstabbing Judas), struggling up a sand dune with two five litre buckets of water in hot pursuit of Lara (an unbeatable weight loss machine), it looks like he might catch her before she reaches the top. It’s tense. I can’t predict what’s going to happen.
Now, let’s cut away to Joe in the gym, and ask him what his thoughts and emotions were at this point in the contest. Go ahead Joe:
‘Well I was struggling up the dune with my two buckets of water, Lara was just ahead of me, and I thought; If I push myself here and give it 150% (could someone please tell these people it is in fact impossible to give more than 100% in any given situation?), I might catch her’
Thanks Joe, thanks for that enlightening comment, you’ve offered us a real window into your soul there.
Enough about what’s bad about the Biggest Loser though, let’s focus on its redeeming feature for a minute, which is undoubtedly the change the contestants go through from their initial state as bloated, unhealthy and desperately unhappy people into slim and rosy cheeked members of society who have regained their self respect.
It really is heart warming to see a man who before he started training could barely walk, actually be able to run up a flight of stairs unassisted, bust out 50 press-ups, and tie his own shoe laces again.
The bond forged between the trainers and their charges also appears genuine. Who can forget that fateful weigh-in when that impenetrable hunk of a man Shannon openly wept with pride as Charlene (the 50 year old Mum who he’d fiercely battled with in the early days) posted a 6kg weight loss for the week.
So in conclusion, what I’m trying to say is; although it’s wrapped up in the form of a vapid prime time TV show, it’s hard not to find this triumph of the human spirit over adversity inspirational.
Admittedly it is the kind of self inflicted adversity which sums up everything that’s wrong with society today; the fact that if you’re miserable, the only way to make yourself happy is to consume. Whether its fifteen pints of lager, cocaine, meat pies, plasma screen TV’s or overpriced Justin Bieber memorabilia, and as the Biggest Loser helps to highlight, this is surely not the road to happiness.
I’m not saying watching the Biggest Loser will put you on the road to happiness either mind you, but it’s certainly more entertaining than watching re-runs of ‘Two and a Half Men’.
Now, have a butchers at this clip, I dare you to tell me its not television at its finest

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