Posted by Pattie on 8/25/2002 07:59:00 AM

I have come to an important conclusion during the past five years. This conclusion has affected how I live my life, how I think about life in a profound way. I have concluded that politics is not enough. In fact, being a part of the political system, i.e., protesting, writing letters, making my opinions known, might actually be adding to the problem rather than taking away from it. Everytime a protest occurs, it reifies a broken system. People point to the protestors and say "see, the system works, people get to voice their opinions." But the system hasn't worked because nobody actually listens to the protestors, they simply use the act of protesting to solidify the status quo. Does that mean all is lost? No. It means that the battle is fought on other grounds. In my humble opinion, those grounds are the grounds of culture.

There are a lot of meanings to the word culture, but the meaning I am using now is one of shared values, shared understandings among a group of people. Culture gets created in a number of ways: traditions, child-rearing, education, entertainment, commerce, sports, language, writing, pictures, audio and spoken word, music and just about any way that two human beings interact with each other. In order for person A to be able to understand person B and vice versa, something of a shared value or understanding has to be reached. To the extent that this is successful, the two people interact and each one is changed because of the interaction. Very few political protests that I have participated in have led to a mutually shared understanding or value. Most of the protests I see on American television are used in ways not intended by the protestors. In fact, getting their message across is the single most frustrating thing in an activist's life.

That is why I find myself drawn to culture jamming. We have to find someway to stop the flow of cultural production and begin to produce new kinds of culture if we are going to change this world into a sustainable place. North Americans are killing the earth and they are doing so because it feels right to them. They are doing so unquestionably. They are doing so without real thought. Culture jamming jars us out of our sleep and gives us an opportunity to examine.

I've been thinking about culture jamming and fatness lately. Specifically, I've been thinking about the place of cultural production in the fledgling so-called fat movement. Marilyn's book was a good first step, but judging from the gab cafe, it has not led to much. The people in the cafe spend more time correcting each other than they do thinking about how they can change the world around them. I've offered an episode of First Person, Plural to them several times and have never received a comment from anyone but my closest contacts in the cafe. There is a woman in Oregon who is doing a fat show every month on local radio, but no one in the cafe even talks about such effort. Others discuss how they'd like to make a movie or write a book, but no one really does anything other than smile and (((hug))) and then go back to discussing the View or some movie star.

I brought up the topic of a fat institute -- a place where the brains and creative spirit of people in the cafe could come together and do something to change how the culture views fatness. No one cared to talk about it for more than a day or two, yet weeks of sustained conversations about Scooby Doo or movie stars' hairdoes or pornography continue. When is somebody going to do something more than whine and when some of us do do something, when are we going to find support from a real fat community, a fat culture? It is frustrating.