Monday, June 14, 2004

Kill Phil Vol. 1

At the intersection of Franklin and Hennepin in Minneapolis, Dr. Phil McGraw’s dopey, milk slathered grin gazes down on passers-by with the message, “The weight is over.” I’ve taken to flipping this billboard off wherever and whenever I see it (occasionally and unintentionally inciting glints of road rage in my fellow commuters’ eyes). Seeing Dr. Phil’s face fills me with so much rage that it very nearly rivals the rising-blood-pressure-induced high I get when I look at Dubya’s face, and that’s saying something.
Criticizing George W. Bush is effortless. He’s attacked and taken over at least 2 countries; spent the country’s surplus and bankrupted the treasury; has taken the most vacation of any other president in history; cut health benefits and unemployment services during a time of dire economic need, etc., etc. Also, he uses words like, “nukular”, “resignate”, “subliminabable”, “exemplarary”. The leader of the most powerful country in the world says things like, “if most of the tax breaks go to wealthy people it's because most of the people who pay taxes are wealthy." Yeah. You feel that shame, right? Even if you’re one of those people who claim to hate the United States with a fiery passion, there’s something about living under the rule of a blabbering moron that’s slightly embarrassing, right? And sometimes, when you hear him speak you want to scream at him to shut up? You have to turn off your television because the murderous rage in your body starts to scare you because it’s more real than you’ve ever felt it?

But enough about him.

Dr. Phil is not an idiot. He’s not stupid. He’s not telling lies. He’s a sanctimonious, condescending, misogynist, money grubbing freak and a champion of capitalism and celebrity…he’s rolling in money, selling something that people already have. He’s not even really lying about that. Take, for example, his weight loss challenge. In the face of the obesity epidemic, Dr. Phil has the answer, and it’s just seven “keys” away! The doors to Emotional, External, Habit, Food, Body and Social control can all be opened for you!:

“Key 1 Right Thinking - Many people are beaten before they even start due to negative or wrong thinking.” Don’t do that. Impart a little Yoda wisdom: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

“Key 2 Healing Feelings - This key teaches you how to break the cycle of overeating in response to emotional triggers and stress.” Eat only when hungry.

“Key 3 A No Fail Environment - This key teaches you the ability to shape, design, and manage your environment so that it is virtually impossible for you to fail at weight control.” Don’t keep junk in your house.

“Key 4 Mastery Over Food And Impulse Eating - You will learn how to control and reshape your behavior, first by identifying why you persist in bad habits, and second, by replacing them with actions design to weaken their hold on you.” If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t keep doing it.

“Key 5 High Response Cost, High Yield Nutrition - This key is nothing short of revolutionary, and amazingly powerful in its simplicity. You won't find counting calories or grams, no measuring, no memorizing exhaustive food lists or exchanges. With this key you will not only take the weight off but keep it off for a lifetime.” Rumor has it that if you eat food you actually have to prepare (i.e. fresh fruits and vegetables, nothing that comes in a box or can) you’ll lose weight. Imagine.

“Key 6 Intentional Exercise.” As opposed to unintentional exercise. Basically: move.

“Key 7 Your Circle of Support - To reach your weight loss goals, you must surround yourself with a group of like-minded people who want you to do it too. This greatly enhances your success.” People like other people’s encouragement and support.

And there you have it. Everything you need to know.

It may be unfair of me to concentrate my frustration and anger at Dr. Phil. It’s not him, per se. It’s everything he stands for. He’s the poster child for the consumer nightmare. We’re a society of consumers buying solutions to the problems that have been created due to the fact that we’re a society of consumers. We’re buying pop and junk food at every turn and turning eating into entertainment with one hand, and Dr. Phil’s Weight Loss Challenge with the other, forever caught in a cycle of self-loathing and failure because we just can’t seem to make it work and look like those people in the magazines, like we’re “supposed” to. Everything is designed to make us happier and make us lead fuller, richer lives, none of it does, and in our search we amass more and more material possessions. My grandparents have a house full of stuff, a garage full of stuff, a shed full of stuff, and a rented storage space full of stuff. Some of it has never been taken out of its original packaging. We look for saviors from our problems and our eternal unrest on television and find them in Dr. Phil, who’s selling common sense. Will Dr. Phil’s solution work? Sure, if you follow his advice. Which would mean turning off the television. Which is why it WON’T work.

The Ultimate Weight Loss Solution? Turn off your television.

1 comment:

Xtine said...

You're off to such a great start --- and then it stopped. Keep going!