Sunday, May 10, 2009

An Open Letter to Dr. Denis Leary

Dear Dr. Leary-

May I begin with congratulating you on your recent honorary degree! I've always hoped I'd do something famous enough to have such an honor bestowed upon myself. Thing is, I don't think you get one of these unless you actually graduated from someplace. I wonder if I could get so famous that I could say to the Ohio State University "Well, I always intended to return to finish and get that Women's Studies degree once I got out of the debt that prevented me from continuing college, does that count? I could just save everyone a lot of time and go straight to the honorary doctorate. After all, isn't an honorary degree about as useful as a Women's Studies degree?"

Honestly, that wasn't a dig at you. It was a dig at myself and my complete and total inability to finish anything. If we want to discuss this, we can start with my unfinished degree and work our way down to the repair job I promised 4 years ago to a co-worker at a job I don't even work anymore. Her mother's pearls and the vermeil and the intentions are all still sitting getting dusty in my repair job bin on my beading table. Hell, I'll be lucky if I ever finish this letter.

I really was congratulating you. Honest. I think you deserve way more recognition that you get, and certainly more than Rescue Me provides you.

I'm writing because I am in the middle of reading your book. And before you say to yourself "Christ, here's another one!", just hear me out for a second. I'll just get it out of the way right now so you won't think you're reading another pissed off letter: I love your book. I think it needed to be written and it all needs to be said, and I'm glad you're doing it, since I don't really think anyone remembers your speech from Demolition Man even though that was the best thing about that movie.

I've seen Judgement Night too, and I quote Lock and Load all the time. See? I like you!

Anyway, back to your book. I think your book is going to piss off a lot of people that really need to be pissed off. Anyone who can't handle the truth and blames the person who brings it up is a pain in the ass. Sure, the truth hurts, but it's still the truth. I don't think there is any reason to bring things up only for the purpose of being hurtful. Statements like "Geez, why are you still wearing that shirt, you know that's why Julie left you!" or "I'll bet watching Vera Drake was hard for you, what with the 3 abortions you have under your belt." There's no reason to bring up hurtful stuff and hide behind the phrase "What, I'm just being honest!" But that's not what you're doing here. You're telling general truths and they are truths we need to face and deal with.

I should tell you a little bit about myself. I'm 33, married with no children or desire for children (I pause here to take my birth control pill while I'm thinking about it) and I'm fat. I do have more to my personality (I collect Pez and enjoy live music and independent film) but nothing that really gets talked about in your book other than my weight problem. And trust me, I know it's a problem. I'm not going to sit here and talk about the unrealistic standard of beauty portrayed in the media and how everyone of all sizes can be beautiful. Granted, there is a bizarre standard of beauty that basically says unless you are a dead ringer for a Rodin sculpture who is no older than 28, you're hideous. We all know this is bullshit (although it would be nice to be that in shape, I must admit), but that's not the point I'm trying to make.

The reason I mentioned that I am fat is because it's about the only thing I think you're book is going to target. And I just wanted to get it out of the way and admit it and let you know that I really don't mind you targeting fat people. While I don't think I should be made a pariah due to my size, I also don't think I have nothing wrong with me. I eat too much cheese and barely exercise, and I love ice cream. I know what those 3 things combined will create. Sure, when you talk about fat people in your book, I feel a little bad about myself, but I don't blame you. I don't think "Damn you Denis Leary! You have no right to talk about me like that! You don't know me!" What I am thinking is "Jesus, he's right. Do I even know where my gym membership card is? Do I even still belong to the gym? Dammit, that's one more thing I have to do tomorrow." And then I eat some chips and go on reading.

You mention in your book that stereotypes exist because they are true, and I agree with you. No one ever says "You mean to tell me you actually saw a white person in a pickup truck and a cowboy hat? In the CITY? Wait, you talked to him and he said he lives in an apartment and has never owned a cow? I don't believe it! Something new every day!" Or you don't ever hear "Damn, I was shocked to see the woman who bought all of those scrapbooking supplies get into a minivan of all things!" Stereotypes aren't there because only 2 people fall into them. One of my goals in life is to stay out of a stereotype as much as possible. Sadly, I'm a fat girl who loves science fiction and comic books, so I fall smack dab into the middle of a stereotype, and won't get out until I drop a few pounds. I do shower daily so this puts me in the upper echelon of this group.

What I'm not going to do is get angry at your book for pointing out that I fall into a stereotype. Granted, stereotypes are no reason to pay someone less or not hire them or not allow them to receive benefits or something. And sure, it's not nice of people to judge everything about a person based on where they fall into a stereotype, but hey, that one part of them still fits the stereotype. Okay, maybe you have a PhD in philosophy, but if you have those really long nails with the earrings in them, I'm going to have a pretty good idea about your sense of taste.

So I'm preaching to the choir here, I need to stop. You know what I'm saying, you've already said it all in your book! You know that the fair thing to do is to give someone a chance, but you also know, as I do, that you will likely not be surprised by someone. If you are, great, and count them as one of the good ones. But more often than not, what you think about a person is usually an accurate assessment. People as a whole are extremely facile, and nowhere near as interesting as they would like to consider themselves. In my experience, the ones who are loudest in their declarations of their own uniqueness are the plainest of the bunch. They'd rather talk about how unique they are rather than do something that makes them unique.

So long story short, I'm a fat leftist American female, and I love this book. Cross me off the list of possible people to be offended, because the truth isn't offensive. You're not one of those white guys making unfair assumptions based on the one person he's ever met, you know your shit. You may offend someone who says "Hey, I'm a (fill in type) and I don't do (whatever you said that type does)!", but you can always come back with "Sure, maybe not you, but you know that others in your similar ilk do exactly what I described, right?" and the answer will always be something like "Well.....yeah....I guess...."

Nice job. I think this book should be required reading for teenagers, to help them avoid becoming just another sucky American asshole. A great song by the way. "I like football and porno and books about war" is so descriptive, I know exactly who you mean.

Yours in Christ,
Xan Sprouse

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