Every Word Counts

I wrote yesterday’s post about this being National Eating Disorders Awareness week a few hours before taking my six-year-old son to see the new animated kids’ movie, Gnomeo and Juliet. This rated G spoof of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, though occasionally violent and sometimes off-color, was fully aimed at kids.

So you can imagine my horror (and yes, it truly was horror) when during a scene in which Juliet, the heroine of the movie, was standing on her best friend’s back (a frog) to catch a better glimpse of her love interest (Gnomeo), the best friend spoke these words:

“You know he’s going to ditch you when he finds out how much you weigh!”

Wait a sec…had I heard that correctly? I did a double take and looked around the theatre. Happy little faces, mostly of girls between the ages of four and ten, stared gleefully at the screen. I guess the more important question was, had they heard that?

“You know he’s going to ditch you when he finds out how much you weigh!”

And that’s how it starts. A little line from a movie, a thoughtless commercial, a mother’s look of disapproval at her own reflection in the mirror, magazine ads, billboards, snide comments…they all add up. The seeds are planted and bit by bit, word by word, message by message, girls slowly internalize the notion that thin is good, thinner is better. That thin will bring you happiness, love, approval, and worth.

And it’s messages like the one in this movie that contribute to these very scary statistics:

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets

So my question to the writers of Gnomeo and Juliet is this … REALLY? The best you can do to try and elicit laughter from an audience full of children is to deliver a fat joke? The best you can do in your attempt to be funny is remind girls that their weight matters when it comes to getting what they want in life?

Next time, how about trying smart humor? You know, the kind that isn’t offensive and makes the audience actually feel good about themselves making their ribs ache with laughter?

And the next time? Remember that every word counts.

1 Comment »

  1. Jen Said,

    February 25, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    Deborah, thanks so much for posting this. I wish the writers could have used their power on the big screen more wisely.

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