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Old 01-25-2012, 06:20 PM   #1
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Default Encounter with Fat Hate: The Room (movie)

Recently I went to a midnight showing of this horrible, horrible movie called The Room which came out in 2003 - and is really just a terrible movie on every level, but because of its horrendous acting and indiscernible plot, it has become a kind of hilarious cult film that people love to make fun of. So they have midnight showings all over the U.S. And similar to Rocky Horror, people bring items to throw, yell certain phrases at certain points, and it's very audience-participation centered.

I had actually already seen the movie with some friends on DVD a while back, and definitely found it to be of the "so bad it's good" genre of movies, and I had been telling my bf about it for a while, so when this midnight showing came up it seemed like the perfect fun time.

This idea of it being a fun time lasted approximately 5 minutes, however, when it became apparent early on that the level of anger and hatred toward the female lead in the movie (by the male audience members - who were the only ones to yell things out) was super high. The film is already a play on that old trope of the evil seductress woman who hurts sweet, naive men. But what was the thing they continuously yelled at her about? Things related to her body or being fat. Here's the thing tho, she is hardly fat (maybe Hollywood fat - probably like a size 8). Not like it would be better if she was fat - but you know what I'm saying. The level of misogyny and hate and violent speech was out of f*cking control. [The audience was probably 70% male, and mostly college-aged or just out of college.]

And it wasn't even clever fat-humor. It was like 3rd grade fat humor. Examples:

-Every time she picked up the phone or answered the door (which was pretty often, actually) they referred to her wanting a pizza delivered.
-In sex scenes when she removed her shirt they would yell things about her body, like: criticizing her small stomach rolls when she bent over, saying she had "sausage fingers" when she stroked her lover's cheek, telling her to put her clothes back on, etc.
-When she walked on the spiral staircase in her house they would yell "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM" with each step she took.
-When she shared a scene with a thinner woman, they would yell that the other woman should be the one to take her clothes off and that she should have had the lead role instead.
-And pretty much anything she would do at any point in the movie, one of about three of the most vocal guys would yell something like, "Why are you doing that you fat f*ck" or telling her to go eat some food or that she was going to break the chair she was sitting on or something along those lines.

It wasn't just lighthearted ribbing or fun or something, it was like super angry speech that made me feel really fearful actually. Fearful just to be a woman in an environment with such aggressive male voices yelling such angry, critical things toward women; and especially fearful as a fat woman in that crowd. If I hadn't been sitting in the center of the row, and would have had to climb over people to get out, I would have walked out soon after I realized what was going on.

The body shaming and woman shaming was so aggressive. I noticed about halfway through the movie that I was shaking.

And only one time, among the constant yelling, did I even hear a woman's voice. And that was to criticize the boots the lead character was wearing. Otherwise the yelling was all men, it was always negative, and it was really really really f*cking wrong.

It was really hard on me to be in that toxic environment for an hour and 45 minutes, and to hear all that hateful speech and anger and stereotypes and shaming of women's bodies and whatnot. I mean, I am strong and confident and can stand up within myself when I hear some stereotype or an insult or whatever. It's not usually going to ruin my day. But to have to hear that for an hour and 45 minutes, and to have it being YELLED...that was really more than I could handle. It took another day or two for me to be able to shake it off, and to be able to enjoy being in my body again.

I'm still thinking about whether/how I want to respond to this. It clearly reflects something deeply broken in our culture, in gender power dynamics, in body shaming, all of that. I'm deciding whether to just write something to bring it into the light (I'm sure it's much easier for these douchebags to yell hateful things when the lights are off and they are anonymous and have no consequences), or do some other kind of response - like get a big group of women together and go to a screening and do some yelling of our own. But honestly, I don't think I would want to willingly enter that toxic space again. But we'll see.

I don't know why I'm sharing all this - but I'm open to any thoughts or other stories or anything really. It was just a terrible experience, and if any of you were going to see this movie at a midnight screening or something, you can be prepared.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:41 PM   #2
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Sounds horrible. Did you share the thoughts and feelings with your boyfriend? I'm curious if he felt a similar level of venom in it or if it was something only a woman, and particularly a fat woman, would so closely identify.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:00 PM   #3
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You're sharing it because you're traumatized. I feel so badly that you experienced that. I'm so sorry, McBeth.

Why did you stay all the way through?
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by mcbeth View Post
It clearly reflects something deeply broken in our culture, in gender power dynamics, in body shaming, all of that.

I'm sure it's much easier for these douchebags to yell hateful things when the lights are off and they are anonymous and have no consequences.
Q: Do you think these gentlefolk attended in order to have a venue to express anger, frustration, and hate? Aristotle says that the purpose of a tragedy is to purge the soul of fear and pity -- the emotions that troubled the Greeks of his day. Could this movie have become a cult classic because it allows angry people to purge the feelings of hatred that are too dangerous to express anywhere else?
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by AnnMarie View Post
Sounds horrible. Did you share the thoughts and feelings with your boyfriend? I'm curious if he felt a similar level of venom in it or if it was something only a woman, and particularly a fat woman, would so closely identify.
I did share with him. We talked some about it right afterward, and then had a very long conversation about it the next day after I had more time to think about it and sort through more of my thoughts and feelings (and he did too).

He was very receptive and said that he left feeling a similar anger and heaviness at the mean-spirited nature of everything. He was actually the one who pointed out that it was only men who were doing the yelling (I realized that as soon as he said it, but I was too hurt by the whole thing to parse the situation right away). It was clear that my bf was picking up on it throughout - he was very attentive to me when people were saying things, and was kind of seeing if I was okay as it was going on. Honestly, as it was happening, I was in such shock and just trying to cope with the trauma of it, I was kind of just playing it cool - I didn't really see any other options in the middle of a crowded, angry theater. It's the whole "Don't let them see they've got to you" mentality that just kind of takes over in situations like that.

Obviously since he is male, and a thin male, he doesn't experience or relate to that kind of body or gender shaming in the same way. He said that because he was with me, and just from being so close to me and knowing about my experiences in this world as a fat woman (and he's spent a lot of time studying gender issue and feminism in general), he felt the wrong-ness of what was happening on an even deeper level than he normally would.

He's honestly kick-ass at dealing with this stuff, and he said that if I had shown any indication of wanting to leave he would have left with me in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dr. Feelgood View Post
Q: Do you think these gentlefolk attended in order to have a venue to express anger, frustration, and hate? Aristotle says that the purpose of a tragedy is to purge the soul of fear and pity -- the emotions that troubled the Greeks of his day. Could this movie have become a cult classic because it allows angry people to purge the feelings of hatred that are too dangerous to express anywhere else?
Interesting thought. Catharsis.

I think there is something to that. I mean, these people had obviously seen the movie a TON of times because they all knew what was coming in each scene and would yell things before they happened, etc. So it's clear they enjoy it.

While the mean-spirited, critical, oppressive nature of the gathering is not something that I would want to return to ever again, clearly that is not so for many of the others (at least the loudest ones - a lot of people probably just sat and said nothing).
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:40 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by CastingPearls View Post
You're sharing it because you're traumatized. I feel so badly that you experienced that. I'm so sorry, McBeth.

Why did you stay all the way through?
I don't think I'm still traumatized, I more now just want to share the experience with people who would understand how hurtful it would be, and maybe to get ideas as to how other people might have reacted or responded.

To be honest, I stayed all the way through because the guy right behind me was yelling the loudest, and the rows were very close together, and I didn't want my fat self to have to climb over a number of people in the middle of the movie where all kinds of angry things about fat people.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:56 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by mcbeth View Post
I don't think I'm still traumatized, I more now just want to share the experience with people who would understand how hurtful it would be, and maybe to get ideas as to how other people might have reacted or responded.

To be honest, I stayed all the way through because the guy right behind me was yelling the loudest, and the rows were very close together, and I didn't want my fat self to have to climb over a number of people in the middle of the movie where all kinds of angry things about fat people.
After sending that, I realized it sounded judgmental, along the same line as asking a battered woman why she didn't leave an abusive SO or someone who was assaulted why they didn't fight back and that wasn't a fair question to you. I know that when I was assaulted, I froze. We all react differently, none wrong. I'm glad you're not traumatized anymore and also that your boyfriend is so supportive.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:04 AM   #9
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After sending that, I realized it sounded judgmental, along the same line as asking a battered woman why she didn't leave an abusive SO or someone who was assaulted why they didn't fight back and that wasn't a fair question to you. I know that when I was assaulted, I froze. We all react differently, none wrong. I'm glad you're not traumatized anymore and also that your boyfriend is so supportive.
No worries, sister. And thanks.

If I was sitting on the aisle, I would have been out of there in a heartbeat. But didn't feel safe getting up and drawing attention to myself as I slammed into a row of people's legs trying to get out while the movie was playing, y'know?
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:20 AM   #10
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Wow...that's just pathetic and sad. I am sorry you had to endure that. People are so free with flinging the fat hate around these days. It's like it's all they have left.

They can't openly hate anyone else.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:54 AM   #11
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They can't openly hate anyone else.
This is very much where a part of the problem comes from.

mcbeth, I'm so, so sorry you had to go through that. I've had awkward situations myself, perhaps more hurtful in some ways than what you've described, and at the same time not. My oldest sister is a very slim and attractive woman. She always has been, and she's so insensitive. She often asks me if her size 4 (or maybe 6) jeans make her look fat. >.>

I've never said anything about it, and recently I've come to a whole new attitude about such things, and definitely about the kind of people who were yelling in that theater. I've realized it's never about the person they're yelling at or commenting on.

I actually mean to make a youtube video about this issue in the near future. It's been on my mind for a while. The thing I want to promote most with my confidence and comfort in my body is body love, regardless of shape or size... And one of the biggest points of that for me was being able to realize that when someone comes along and says nasty things about one of my videos or pictures it's because they're either jealous or they've got emotional problems with no outlet of their own.

They want you to feel like the issue is about you. They want you to hurt. That's the goal. What other goal could there be in tearing someone else down? But in the end it isn't, it's about them.

I don't know that having this opinion or viewpoint would have helped me any in the atmosphere you've described. I probably would have gotten up and left. I probably would have been physically trembling. I probably would have cried when I got to my truck (not before) if they said something about me as I was leaving... But I don't think I would have stayed through it. Not for that long.

Even with that being the case though, I can completely understand why you didn't want to leave. *Hugs* for having to go through that. I'm so sorry you did. The prevalence of hate and malevolence in our world is astounding to me at times.. Particularly in regard to those who are most easily attacked...

Fat people and alternate lifestyles are probably the biggest targets these days. And be alternate I mean like polygamy in any form (I read an article on a show about a man and his four wives and some of the comments on there rivaled those on just about any article involving fat I've looked at recently).

Anyways, keep your chin up, lovely lady. You're certainly not alone. I'm glad you could rebound from the trauma of the experience and feel comfortable in your own body again. Every soul deserves that.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:07 AM   #12
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Dear McBeth,

What you described sounds absolutely awful and humiliating for a woman, especially a fat woman. Sitting in a dark, closed in room with hundreds of crazed adolescent boys pumped up on hatred of a stereotype that you happen to be is chilling and potentially dangerous. The only things that could have made it worse would if they had of been drinking alcohol and have had access to weapons.

What you witnessed that night was not catharsis in my opinion, it was a lynch mob being whipped into a frenzy by a few vulgar and dangerous leaders. I think it was dangerous because your inner instinct told you to flee – that you were in jeopardy. You should trust your inner voice. Perhaps a quick exit might be for your BF to feign illness (starting to dry heave) and need to exit and you follow him out. But, you guys shouldn’t have to expose yourself to danger like that unless you think you can carry it off.

Who was wrong in that situation was the theater management. Why? A movie theater is a unique situation and has specific laws in rules called Life Safety Codes that cover your personal safety in a crowd when in a theater and when the need comes up for crowd control or exiting due to fires, power failure or other emergencies. (Life Safety Codes - LSC- are generally enforced by the local Fire Dept. and the local Police Dept.) This is so serious that there is even a professional group called Theater Management Consultants that advise theaters how to comply with these codes. I have placed some links at the end of this post.

But basically, what the LSC says is that the theater management has to have a management team trained to prevent and manage the kind of dangerous crowd dynamics you witnessed. The management team should have been inside and stopped the situation from getting that bad or perhaps found a way to stop it from happening in the beginning – such as an announcement before the movie about what behavior is not tolerated and posting a couple of officers inside to back up the rules, even stopping the movie if necessary. Theater employees used for this control team need training to handle this kind of crowd and other situations that might arise such as evacuation or fights, etc.

Crowd dynamics and control in a closed or confined areas is very serious business. In cases where the crowd got out of hand, there have been deaths due to panic, crushing, with the dead unusually high numbers. Examples are seen in soccer stadiums, mecca pilgrimages, high rise building evacuations, indoor and outdoor concerts, mosh pits, free concerts (the Who), nightclub fires, and fires inside industrial buildings. I think what you witnessed was the birth of a potential disaster that luckily did not go another further.

Links and Outside Comments
From http://www.ehow.com/info_8098185_typ...or-groups.html
Types of Social Behavior in Groups - Violent Behavior
• Violent and aggressive behavior can often occur in groups. Crowds or groups of people are more likely to behave violently than individuals. As some members of the group become violent or aggressive, others copy their behavior and it becomes normalized. This creates a pressure to be violent in order to fit in with the norms of the group.
--------------------------------------
At this location http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg142.htm
The following is from Health and Safety Executive – Managing Crowds Safely

What type of crowd?
Different types of crowds behave in different ways. Shoppers in a crowded mall, each with their own interests, make up a different crowds from spectators at a sports stadium. It is important to know, for example, the age-range and social mix of visitors to anticipate probable behaviour and make appropriate arrangements for it.

Even small changes in the layout or venue, or a gradual increase in visitors, might lead to a disaster. In addition to the personal suffering such disasters cause, the accompanying adverse publicity, loss of revenue, compensation payments, insurance costs and possible prosecution can have a long-term effect on a company's viability. Disasters should not happen provided those responsible, at all levels, pay careful attention to managing crowds safely.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

At this link http://www.lacountyfire.com/article146.html
The following info is from MODERN MOVIE THEATERS: TRAGEDY IN WAITING? Date: Monday, March 15, 2004 @ 19:31:17 PST
BY DAVID R. BLOSSOM, ALCM, CFPS, CFI1

How do we improve life safety for occupants of megaplex theaters and other large places of assembly? The Life Safety Code requires that "every Class A place of assembly (those that can accommodate 1,000 or more occupants) must provide trained crowd managers at a ratio of one for every 250 occupants. Therefore, a facility that can accommodate 2,000 occupants would be required to have eight trained staff on duty during operation; 40 such trained persons should be on duty if the facility can hold 10,000 occupants.

http://www.theatreconsultants.org/
American Society of Theater Consultants
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:07 AM   #13
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“You hate someone whom you really wish to love, but whom you cannot love. Perhaps he himself prevents you. That is a disguised form of love.”

Sri Chinmoy

I think cultural repression of many desires spills out in a lot of ugly and violent ways. Sorry for your experience, McB.
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Old 01-26-2012, 01:37 PM   #14
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Wow, I cannot imagine how terrifying the whole ordeal must have been at the time. I watched a few scenes of the female lead on youtube. Very pretty/cute and not in the least bit fat. Hardly, hardly chubby. Not that it even matters. Men that yell slurs like that are hardly discriminating in their hatred/fear of women. It sounds like a movie groups of mysogynists flock to. Any chance you could complain the theatre management about the level of sexism? Sounds dangerous.
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Old 01-26-2012, 02:09 PM   #15
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It certainly couldn't hurt to complain to the theater management.

The more troubling thing to me, though, is that this is what's happening at showings of this film all over the country. This wasn't an isolated incident in this one theater at this one showing. When I did a google search I found several blog entries, etc., talking about the misogyny and violent, body shaming speech present at these screenings all over the place.

It's a terrible thing.
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Old 01-26-2012, 05:56 PM   #16
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So i get the feeling it is like rocky horror calling back( which is full of hateful speech)? Interactive? But only focused on hating the female lead,something like that? Is it expected or just some random jerks in that theater? Trying to get a picture
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:51 PM   #17
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Yeah I read more on it,it's exactly like a rocky interactive thing.The first time I saw RHPS I didn't know what it was.. I went on a halloween in Santa Monica.. I didn't know until we got inside what a loud spectacle it was. I didn't feel threatened but all of the humor is very raunchy and could be considered misogynistic or anti-gay but I do not think that is the intention. I can see how this might be uncomfortable if it was mostly fat hate and you didn't expect it. Also makes sense as to why the theater didn't throw people out. I've been to regular midnight movies and yelling etc is going to get you spoken to at least. I am sorry you stumbled into that kind of thing.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:05 PM   #18
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The mean-spirited nature of the screening of this movie makes Rocky Horror seem like Sesame Street (albeit with more seckshuality). I realized it was a loud, participatory movie - and was looking forward to that aspect of it. The mean-spirited, violent nature of some of the comments was just not something I anticipated.
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:09 PM   #19
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Which actor was supposed to be the fat one? I am totally lost…
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Old 01-27-2012, 03:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcbeth View Post
The mean-spirited nature of the screening of this movie makes Rocky Horror seem like Sesame Street (albeit with more seckshuality). I realized it was a loud, participatory movie - and was looking forward to that aspect of it. The mean-spirited, violent nature of some of the comments was just not something I anticipated.
I went to a moonlight showing of this a few years ago with some friends and it was nothing like this. Now, I did hear some people say "sausage fingers" at a particular point in the movie (my friends and I had seen the movie but didn't know what the audience participation references meant). My friend asked the guy behind us why and he said it was because of the weird angle of the shot makes her fingers look strange compared to how they look in other parts of the movie (if you've never seen this movie, it can't be described, it's cheaply made, horrible acting, and utterly lacking in plot). Some people made fun of the her ordering a pizza, but that seemed to be about a certain scene (that makes absolutely no sense) in which the main female character asks the main male character if he wants to order a pizza. After he says yes, she replies "I already ordered one." WTF?

My bet would be that a bunch of people heard about this "cool" thing to do and, instead of actually figuring out what people were doing and why at certain points of the film, drew the conclusion "Oh, sausage fingers? Ha. Ha. The point must be to yell things at the woman in this movie." Guys at that age (no offense to wonderful gentlemen here at that age) sometimes don't really get subtlety that well. It's awful that what was supposed to be a fun time turned into a painful experience, McBeth. Don't second guess yourself about how you handled it. Some people took a fun movie and turned it into an excuse to hurl their bile.
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