So I’ve been shooting this episode for MTV True Life: “I’m Happy to be Fat”, and recently there have been a bunch of casting calls in the fatosphere looking for another Happy Fat… I suppose there’s a chance they might just be looking for other people, but I also have the feeling they’re kind of POed at me and looking for a replacement…
From what I understood about the episode, the original idea was to follow 3 people: an aspiring plus model with PCOS, a fat guy in a feeder relationship, and then me.
About a month into it, I got an email from another guy- also a gainer, but not the same one, who had just been approached and heard I was involved… I never got the chance to talk with him about it, but I got the feeling that MTV wasn’t having such an easy time with this episode.
Things were fine and dandy with my storyline for weeks and weeks: MTV followed me to New York where I shot that 2nd Fat Rant… they came to Chicago for a live performance of it… We went to the beach, to the gym, to 3 of my jobs… we shot probably 10 days of stuff about my life here in LA, and then, they asked to come to my hometown with me to film me interacting with my parents.
And that’s where things got messy. Evvvverybody has parent issues. EVERYbody. Mine have a lot to do with my parents’ religion- disappointing them by doing things like having sex with my boyfriend and with my friendships with terrible people like pot-smokers and the gays.
Anyway– I’m 27 years old, I pay all my own bills, I don’t rely on them for support- emotional, financial, or otherwise, and I’m over it. I see my parents once every 2 or 3 months. We’re not close at all- largely because I don’t want to break their hearts with tales of this hedonistic lifestyle I’m leading.
But I said “sure, whatever… My relationship with my parents– none of our conflict has ever really had anything to do with me being fat… they’ve never ever told me there was anything I couldn’t do because of my size.. They’ve never told me I was anything but beautiful. But sure, whatever you want MTV. Come on out.”
And P.S.: I cry all the time. About anything. Greeting cards, sunny days, purple socks.. whatever. and I laugh just as often. It’s ridiculously easy to set me off either way… Embarassingly easy. FYI: MTV is mostly interested in the crying.
So when the producer started asking all these leading questions about feeling like a disappointment to my parents… I told the truth. I told my mom that when it came down to it, I believed that she would disown me before she’d accept certain things about my life. I told her for the first time, that I was sleeping with my boyfriend and that I didn’t think all gays were going to hell, and wonder of wonders: my mother’s head didn’t explode!
My mom listened to me, she said that she was afraid to let up because she was afraid of losing me, but that preserving our relationship was most important to her. I said that she needed to realize she’d done a great job raising me, but that job was finished, and that she’d get MORE of me if she’d just let me BE, and everybody cried and hugged a little, and in truth, I do feel closer to my parents than I used to.
And then, 2 days later, I started to feel sick. The show is called “I’m Happy to be Fat.” Not, “My Parent’s Evangelical Absolutism is Crushing Our Relationship.” There is NO way that whole encounter is going to come off as anything other than 6 minutes of boo-hooing about how my mom used to hide cookies from me sometimes. It was seriously violating to think of all that complicated emotion being hacked up and boiled down to something so totally trivial and untrue.
Then MTV switched producers on my segment and I was suddenly inundated with emails from some new guy with a bunch of amazing ideas. “How about you put together a program for high-school students in 2 weeks and present it with your mom?” “How about you write 40 more minutes of solo material and have it memorized and ready to perform for industry professionals in 7 days? ” “How about you throw a gigantic party for everyone you know, rent a film projector and get some kegs, all on your own dime??”
I work 60-70 hours a week at a variety of different things, both professional and passionate. In no way do I have the time or the resources to take on something additional – and as important to me or as expensive as any of those would have been to do them well.
I said “Sorry, no, I have too much on my plate as it is.” and started forwarding his emails to my manager. She was on top of it in an instant: “Do you need me to tell MTV to chill out?” I said “Yes, please.” and then told her about how disgusting I was feeling about the whole crying with mom business. Susan was like “Oh, hellll no.”, and was really POed that they’d snuck that whole thing through without her knowledge in the first place and initiated a bunch of conference calls where MTV discovered they had never gotten me to sign a release.
Susan asked them to discard everything that included my parents- they said, “No! She signed a release!” Susan said, “Oh really? Show me it.” They said, “Joy! Quick, sign this release!” I said, “Only if you cut my parents out.” They said, “oh.. um…”
And I haven’t heard from them since.
A few days later I saw all the MTV casting call postings all over the internets and it’s pretty clear that they’re movin on.
Other reasons MTV is mad at me:
1) I didn’t tell them when I had a big fancy audition (because I wanted to actually GET THE PART – and not freak out beforehand because I had to do 45 tearful “On The Fly” interviews immediately preceding)
2) When I GOT the part- acting in a scene opposite Michael Madsen- I didn’t let them come along to the film shoot (because I wanted to actually FOCUS and DO MY JOB and not have the entire movie hijacked by an MTV crew.)
3) When I got to see my boyfriend in Chicago for the first time in 3 months, I didn’t let them come along because we had seriously 4 days together and, thankfully, my boyfriend believes that our bidness is our bidness.
Basically, it’s been 2 months of me trying not to look like a jackass and them crossing their fingers- hoping and praying and pushing and poking -in the hopes that I’ll act like a jackass.
And they’re always so bewildered when someone isn’t interested in being on camera. “But this will be seen by MILLIONS of people!!” Yes, that’s EXACTLY WHY I’m not going to say whatever stupid thing it is you want me to say.
I kept asking myself why I was doing the thing at all: I love to watch “Reality” TV, but I always thought it’d be a total nightmare to be on… (it is) And what I kept thinking was: how excited I would have been at 14 or 15 or whatever… to see a happy fat person on TV. Living her life- doing exciting things, wearing bright colors, hanging out with cool people, laughing all the time… just living it up. Living a life I could really actually have someday. That would have been really cool.