MTV and me.

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.

28 Responses to “MTV and me.”


  1. 1 Mari October 20, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Joy, this is no way a criticism of you but just some observations:

    First of all, be glad that you weren’t on MTV. MTV is the kiss of
    death for careers. Seriously. People who build their careers
    based on that channel usually don’t go anywhere. Get down
    on your knees and thank your lucky stars.

    Second, reality television, unless you are in charge like
    Kathy Griffin’s brilliant My Life on the D List, is usually
    watered down to make you look like a puppet and they’re
    pulling the strings. Most people who do reality aren’t taken
    very seriously or their careers are already over.

    Third, I totally understand where you are coming from with
    regards to your parents. My mother’s religious beliefs have
    scared away a lot of my friends too. Only my mother is much,
    much worse because she believes the Anti-Christ is gay and
    believes that one of my favorite holidays (Halloween) is
    demonic. Seriously and I thought Angelina Jolie was the craziest
    person on Earth.

    Consider it a lesson learned and your first big lesson on
    the entertainment industry. I heard Rosie O’Donnell’s new
    book Celebrity Detox really breaks it down how unglamorous
    being famous really is.

    Is that cute guy from your myspace page your boyfriend?
    I didn’t know he lived in Chicago–How is being in a long
    distance relationship?

    Last, I’m an astrology fanatic and I would love to do your
    chart. All I would need is BIRTHDAY, BIRTH TIME, PLACE
    OF BIRTH. To quote one of my favorite movies, Before Sunrise,
    “When the stars exploded billions of years ago, everything that
    is in this world was meant to happen. So, don’t forget, you
    are stardust.”

    Good luck and hang in there!

  2. 2 Emmie October 20, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t think they actually want happy fat people on their show. More like ‘we want people that SAY they’re happy and fat, but really are miserable wrecks that cry all the time’ because THAT’S WHAT FAT PEOPLE DO! The whole being content and happy with life that I’m doing at the moment is just a silly charade because all I REALLY want to do is obviously sit around and cry and eat crisps while hating myself. Obviously.

  3. 3 KarenElhyam October 20, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Emmie, you took the words right outta my mouth. When Joy mentioned the crying thing, it all fell into place for me.

    That seems like exactly what they were trying to pull. Because honestly? While talking about fat acceptance and so on is innovative and really just deeply weird? Simply being happy while fat? It’s just weird and boring. They knew their audience would find it disconcerting after so many episodes of shows where fat girls’ only dreams are to be skinny cheerleaders, or the queens of their own ridiculously over the top birthday parties.

    So yeah, MTV is not the sort of place where you can really begin changing the world…

  4. 4 FashionableNerd October 20, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I second what Emmie and Karen said.

    Nobody wants to see a truly happy fat person. That goes against everything that the nation has been brainwashed to believe: all fat folks are unhappy and tearful about their weight, and any happy face is just a facade to hide the pain.

  5. 5 fillyjonk October 20, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I’m so disappointed in True Life, because when they asked me to be on the show (and I was never going to say yes, but now I’m extra glad), I researched it and it’s been getting anti-defamation awards left and right. The fact that they can’t seem to treat this one issue sensitively is not a failing of reality TV. I think most of us know not to get mixed up with reality TV. But True Life presents itself as a documentary show and has been promoted and received that way. They seem to have no trouble with sensitive, nuanced portrayals of other tricky issues.

  6. 6 fatgirlonabike October 20, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    They approached me in August about going on and I was nervous from the start. I ended up saying I’d be willing to do it provided they exclude three parts of my life.

    Haven’t heard a word since.

    And after seeing the bullshit they pulled with you (and how it directly contradicts the stuff they told me, that it would not interfere with my life, that it wasn’t scripted and that they were journalists too) I’m so glad they never called back.

    The problem with this subject matter is it’s too complex for them. They want it to be a simple one dimensional cut and dry issue like I’m a Cheerleader, I’m a fundie or I’m a man-hating lesbian.

    I’m sorry they wasted so much of your time and energy and money. Journalists/documentary filmmakers my ass.

    But on the good side, you did get somewhere with your parents.

  7. 7 Joy Nash October 20, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Oh this has definitelty definitely been an educational experience. I think part of the reason I initially agreed to do it was because I had no idea they’d be here for 2 months. Also, I thought I was strong-willed enough to withstand the reality manipulation.. heheh. But after weeks and weeks- I COMPLETELY understand why people give false comfessions- you know? It’s like friggin water torture!
    MTV: How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession?
    Me: My parents’ opinion is of NO importance whatsoever. I am an adult and can make my own decisions.
    MTV: Okay great. Now a few more questions. How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession?
    Me: It’s.. wait. I just answered that.
    MTV: Right, but talk about it just a little bit more. How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession?
    Me: ummm…
    MTV: Like maybe talk about how it’s important to get along with the people in your life… How you know- you always wanted to make your mom proud and that’s why you’re trying to make things better with her…
    Me: That’s not really true.
    MTV: Ok, well tell me about that.
    Me: About what?
    MTV: How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession? How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession? How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession? How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession? How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession? How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession? How important is your parent’s opinion of you and your profession?
    (30 minutes later)
    Me: (people-pleaseing and bedraggled and just want to make them go away) “Well… i don’t know… I guess you only get one set of parents? I guess it’s kind of nice to get along with eachother? or something?”

    I know it’s probably not coming off this way, but I really am grateful for this experience. It kind of worked out perfectly- like one serious hell of an education and then, being able to skip out on the consequences. I 500% agree that the only way to do “reality” TV is if you’re in complete control. I found myself thinking over and over: Do you seriously expect me to just hand over the most exciting and interesting stories I have? Why on earth would I just toss them out here for you chew up and spit out? For reals! I’ve got big plans senores. And I’m the boss in them. :) And- as fatgirlonabike pointed out –I got a family therapy session for free!

  8. 8 Joy Nash October 20, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    *confessions* not comfessions. And I freely admit that I don’t know where punctuation belongs in proximity to quotation marks and that I have apostrophe problems. Sue me.

  9. 9 vesta44 October 20, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    I saw the hoo-ha about MTV doing this “Fat and Happy” thing, and was so glad I was too old for them to even consider me. My first thought was “It’s too good to be true” and you know what gets said about things like that. And after having seen the faked drama on Real World and other ‘reality’ crap on MTV, I just couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t do the same to fat people. Sorry to see that I was sorta kinda right. I’m sorry they put you through this, and I’m glad you have plans to do more stuff on your own terms.

  10. 10 kateharding October 22, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I said it before, but I’ll say it again: I LOVE that you didn’t sign the release. Way to keep control of your image, lady.

    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.

    That bewilderment still bewilders me. It comes as more of a shock to me that so many people (who aren’t working actors trying to get more exposure) WANT to be seen by millions of people.

    I’ve told you this story before, but for the benefit of your readers… I have a former-actress friend who did several epsiodes of Jamie Kennedy’s candid camera show. The whole point of the show was to humiliate unsuspecting people for the audience’s amusement. And these people only became aware that this might be on TV after being humiliated. So to me, the obvious question was, “Why the HELL do these people sign releases?” Jo was like, “The magic words are ‘Do you want to be on TV?’ That’s all it takes.”

    So, in the MTV folks’ defense, I suppose they see those people constantly, and it’s understandable that they’d forget there ARE people out there who are more concerned with their own privacy and dignity than with being seen by millions of people. I guess it’s not actually their bewilderment that bewilders me, then — it’s the fact that people who’d volunteer to be humiliated on TV outnumber those who wouldn’t. *boggle*

  11. 11 Katherine Coble October 22, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Remember that godawful Lifetime movie with Kaley Cuoco or whatever her name is? It was supposedly about FA, but was really about how fat people would like themselves better if they were skinny and wouldn’t buy fancy cakes?

    That’s the TV version of FA right now, and that’s the mentality of the hive behind most TV productions.

  12. 12 vesta44 October 22, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    MTV is probably bewildered about people who DON’T want to be on TV because of all the people who have signed on to be on shows like Jerry Springer’s (and all the other ones that humiliate people). I mean, if these people are willing to go on TV and air all their dirty laundry in front of millions of people, why should fat people balk at doing the same thing? Being exploited is worth being famous for 15 minutes? I don’t think so.

  13. 13 Moe October 22, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Ok, first I was excited for you but then as I read I got increasing depressed for you and then I read this:

    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.)

    Michael Madsen? As in Reservoir Dogs? I love you!! I’m so excited about this. I need to know more! :) Can you talk about it or are you sworn to secrecy?

  14. 14 Lo October 23, 2007 at 4:53 am

    Love the post; love your attitude. Thanks for the reality check. You’re an inspiration.

  15. 15 kate217 October 23, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    All reasons why I adore you. I’m glad that your mother’s head didn’t asplode.

    Speaking of your friends, will you please give Michael a big hug from me? He was so sweet when I wrote to him about your birthday.

  16. 16 Gary W. October 24, 2007 at 5:59 am

    Joy,

    Stick to your guns!

    Screw MTV! Its not the same as it was in 1981 anyway.

    The Producers are only looking for a stereotypical, tears ruining her mascara running down her cheeks gal from the way you ranted. They are only trying to ‘push’ your button to get the effect.

    You are better than that!

  17. 17 Jackie October 24, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Well I’m angry. I feel like, “I KNEW I COULDN’T TRUST MTV!!” This is what they come up with, someone in a feeder relationship. Did they even look at the NAFFA website?! It says right on the site, the fat acceptance community DOES NOT support feeder/gainer relationships!

    I’m so telling everyone to boycott the show. It is not about size acceptance, and you should be happy that you weren’t USED by MTV. I know you are trying to get known outside of the net, but going on a show where they clearly are attempting to make the assumption all happy fat people are feeder/gainer people, would’ve ruined your reputation.

    Absoluetly the worst thing I have heard of being shown on TV, and they had the GALL to go to the fat acceptance community to look for people on their show. MTV should change it’s acroynm to ETV. As in, Exploitation Television.

  18. 18 Jon B. October 27, 2007 at 3:11 am

    OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Jackie: You’re right! I didn’t even think about that. *Smacks forehead*

    I try to be neutral on feederism, but I’m highly sure this isn’t going to help the movement. Oh well…

    Maybe I’ll be on there in some years.
    “I’m thin, but accepting everyone is uhhh.. logical for everyone?” :P

  19. 19 baddecisionmaker October 29, 2007 at 4:39 am

    hey joy,
    whatever does or doesn’t happen with this mtv thing (how annoying)…

    i just wanted to say i’m so excited that you’re helping get the love your body revolution (aka the be logical/not hateful because unfortunately that is a revolution) out there. i saw the fat rant video before (so great!!), and i just saw the video of you & kelly bliss on the morning show vs. meme roth. besides getting the message out there to everyone, us fat folks and to other skinnier people, you’ve also forced a debate and a shift in the discussion. obviously it still has a long way to go (that meme roth was a jerk and not engaging with any of you or kelly’s points, and getting away with it), i think all of this has helped at least force people to justify themselves and get a debate where there are sometimes just assumptions of what is “obvious” or right.

  20. 20 Charlotte October 30, 2007 at 7:21 am

    I just watched your latest Fat Rant video, I loved it! You’re amazingly talented.

  21. 21 misty767 November 3, 2007 at 7:21 am

    Joy,
    I somewhat relate. I applied to be on a canadian reality weightloss show last year. After a number of interviews I made it to the final round. Problem is I only had a goal of getting fit and healthy and reaping any weightloss rewards that come with it. They kept digging and digging for a teary explanation for my weightgain. Truth is I had slowly become more seditary and because of my job my food chooses became worse. I had always been a larger girl wich I didnt mind at all. What I didnt like was becomming winded after a set of stairs and living of off sugar. Other than that I was really very happy with my life. Well this wasnt near enough drama for them. They even admitted in my rejection phone call that they had very specific story lines in mind and mine just didnt fit. Aka I didnt cry or give a sob story about how my family rejects me for being fat. Anyway I have since hired a trainer and nutritionalist and I am proud to say I have only lost one pound but gain a load of strength and cardio endurance. YES I am now officially fit, healthy, happy and fat!
    Phew thanks for the vent
    M

  22. 22 Jorge January 24, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Hey Joy -

    I’m the dude in the “feeding relationship” you heard about, and I wanted to express I KNOW EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL about MTV.

    They interviewed both me and my girlfriend Aeiry for an hour each, and then filmed us doing random things 1000 times over for about 6 hours. The producer was good, she was relaxed but wanted us to keep doing things over and over, fine, whatever.

    They always tried to make Aeiry and myself talk about sad things, and such, I was like “I’m not gonna cry, so you can get that crap out of your mind”. Same with her. They basically told us what to say and do and we never complied with it, and the higher ups LOVED the footage they were getting, so it gave us a little control.

    Then they changed producers. He comes up with all these things like Oh you have to have a huge party and invite all your friends all on your own dime!! Oh, wait, you already said that in your post originally! They did that crap to me. Then they were like take your best friends to dinner and you can eat eat eat and they can comment on it. First off, when I do eat, my friends don’t comment on it, they’re my friends, they know I’m fat, they know about gaining, and they only care about me not dying of a heart attack like, but I’m healthy and I go to the doc and my cholesterol is lower than some of my friends and they’re not FAT.

    MTV wanted us to do all sorts of things like film a YouTube video and they can film us doing it and they wanted to get Aeiry in bed in her underwear sitting on top of me feeding me, which we absolutely refused. That is part of our relationship that was very intimate and private and we did not want it broadcasted to the DOZENS of MTV viwers (lol, see what I did there). We said feeding fully clothed at the table, fine, but not in bed, that’s not where we want people to see us doing it, thinking we can only get off when there is food involved.

    Everything they wanted us to do had a negative spin on it, so when the crap-talking producer came in, I basically was like Dude, you’re not from NY, so don’t even think about double-talking me, I’m The General, I’ll have you rolled up in a carpet and thrown you off the Brooklyn Bridge. At that point Aeiry and I were both fed up and basically said, the higher ups LOVE our stuff, MTV made 6 Billion dollars in 2006. Pay us, let us tell our story our way, and we can continue. They refused, so we basically told them to F&@^ OFF!

    The show was done on the fly after you backed out (or were ignored) and Aeiry and I backed out (and were ignored) and the piss poor show they put on shows it. Overall I’m glad I didn’t do it, and I’m glad you didn’t do it either as you have a lot better things going on than some lame MTV Show.

    Rock on!

    Jorge

  23. 23 Lea Hernandez June 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Been the rounds with one “reality” show, and had well-meaning people pushing for another. The first one cost me money I couldn’t afford, but I spent it because I felt we had an in, and we needed the money. A bg duh.
    Two months later, my house burns down, and kind, well-meaning (I am not being sarcastic) people kept sending the URL for, sending the document printed out for, and telling me to try to get on Extreme Home Makeover.

    I was so grateful for the first experience, because without it, I might have considered the EHM. What killed whatever impulse I might have had dead were the instructions on how to make an audition tape. “Wear makeup. Be lively.” I have to wear makeup and pretend to be happy and caper about in the rubble of my house for a chance to have ABC come and pretend to slap up a house in a week?
    My daughter had already stopped me from confronting a news truck in my pajamas-no-underwear ensemble the morning of the fire. I’d need a baseball team of kids to pull me off ABC or MTV people.

    I can barely stand to watch Meme being put in the same room with you so there’ll be “good” TV, so YAY! for the MTV tools deciding you were too smart and moving on.


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