Friday, 4 December 2009

Size is everything

Pity the poor unauthorised biographer. Their lot can't be a happy one. All that time spent poring over back issues of OK! magazine whilst waiting for a root canal. Or fishing through the bins of their favourite celebrity in the hope of finding some greasy tidbit to help piece together the details of their private life. 

Given the lack of access they have to their chosen subject though, it's easy to understand how such a hack might grow to resent the very talent they're writing about. Take Alison Bowyer for example. She's an obnoxious hack who fills in her time between poorly-reviewed character-assassinations, by penning equally ugly little articles for the tabloids. 

Having already coughed up two dodgy 'biographies' of corpulent comedienne Dawn French, she's penned a new article about her favourite subject for the Daily Mail. Apparently, Alison thinks that Dawn is a hypocrite for criticising people who make jokes about people of girth, sorry - fatties. Because, according to Bowyer at least, Dawn has made an entire career out of fat jokes. 

Although it's tempting to wonder whether she even understands how comedy works. For instance, she cites Dawn's famous appearances as Pamela Anderson, suggesting that the joke was Dawn's size. Actually, the joke was actually the unconvincing and preposterous nature of the recreations - as with all of French & Saunders' spoofs.

Then again, maybe that's why Alison is so unhappy with Dawn's PC ouburst - because she clearly finds fat people hilarious. She describes the Vicar of Dibley as being funny thanks to Dawn looking "so gargantuan in her black cassock and absurd tartan pyjamas." If that's all it took to get the audiences falling about laughing, Richard Curtis could have just taken the the last decade off work. Maybe then we'd have been spared Love, Actually and The Boat That Rocked - so not a bad idea in itself. 

As usual with the Mail, money also has to come into it, with Bowyer claiming Dawn's "expanding waistline has been the making of her career (the spoils of which include a £3 million home in Cornwall and a £2million residence in Berkshire)". I love the fact that writers at the Mail still use words like 'spoils' - conjuring up an image of Dawn French dressed like a highway robber on a Thelwell Pony

Dawn's biggest sin, however, is her unwillingness to be disgusted and ashamed by her size. In Bowyer's skewed world view, Dawn is actively waging a "campaign against her slimmer sisters (she refers to non-fatties as 'coat-hangers')". Of course, none of this is true. In fact, the 'coat-hanger' comment was made in an
interview 15 years ago, in relation to the skinny women that men choose to wear like accessories. Still, the way Bowyer spins it, Dawn thinks everyone should have cardio-vascular disease and a mobility scooter. 

Regardless of how many more unauthorised volumes Bowyer chooses to scribble, the fact remains, she'll never get any closer to understanding Dawn French. Not because she's an inordinately complicated woman, but because she's happy. She looks in the mirror and sees comfort, beauty and femininity, rather than a bunch of problems that can be blamed on someone else. In the world of the Daily Mail, that's the biggest mystery of all.  

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