In (Gilbert, 1997, p. 318). One might question, why

contemporary media, representations of fatness is claimed to be one of the most
‘common corporeal sign of comedy’, and usually referred to its opposition to
the social acceptance and the value of ‘normality’ (Kyrölä, 2014). Generally,
social characteristics of individuals are seen to be associated with their body
weight, which may result to the generalization of the obese group. The way culture
shapes values, attitudes, and beliefs about fatness, can provide a basis of how
people interpret their own body weights and the weights of others (Sobal, 2001,
p. 307). As a result, overweight people as a group have not only become an object
of ridicule in television, but also constructed them as ‘powerless’, suggesting
that it merely reinforces stereotypes (Gilbert, 1997, p. 318).

might question, why fat character often become butt of a joke, especially in
the case of a fat woman? As Hole (2003) argues, audience usually judges female
based on “heterosexual attractiveness” that requires ‘thinness’ in Western
society. This is because thinness mainly defines contemporary standards of
beauty and health (Kwan and Graves, 2013). Additionally, fat female characters
receive significantly more offensive comments from male characters, and most of
the time these comments are followed by audience reactions of laughter, “oohs,”
or giggles, suggesting that male commentary on fat female bodies is a socially
acceptable behaviour (Fouts and Burggraf, 2000). This suggests that the figure
of a woman appear either become the object of male gaze or the target of male
to be made fun of, depending on their body size. Regardless the comprehensive
idealization of thin bodies and how overweight women been depicted in
contemporary media, it is not surprising that many women tend to be judged by
and more anxious about their physical appearance than men, which may affect
their social interactions and doings in a detrimental way. In other words, one’s
body size is a significant part of determining one’s social acceptability and
status (Harjunen, 2009, p. 27). However, the patterns of mass media
particularly comedy though have developed, using humour to form new and
alternative identities of body weight, resolving traditional representation of
fat individuals.

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In Rabelais and his World, Mikhail Bakhtin’s
(1984) accounts of ‘carnivalesque’, also known as a ‘feast of fools’ is useful here for the fundamental relationship with those who are socially
repressed or marginalized. This term is used by Bakhtin to refer to the descriptions
of the reversal of hierarchy social structures in medieval society. The
carnival offered a temporarily time and space where the individuals could
freely express themselves in any forms, before returning to their expected
social positions. Despite its historical culture and social regime, Bakhtin (1984)
claims that the carnivalesque also shares a little common in contemporary
Western world.  In this sense,
contemporary entertainment such as comedy film functions as an active form to
express resistant identities and popular bodies. According
to Baxter (2010), Bakhtin’s “carnivalesque
spirit” can lead to social change because of its ‘dialogical expansive speech
genre’, in which existing structures are
mocked, and through this it subverts
and defies dominant beliefs about fat bodies.

In this case, the fat ‘liberationist’, or the character of
Susan Cooper in comedy film ‘Spy’
become a way to celebrates fatness, using humour to question the topic of
fatness, in which fat woman can be placed in a powerful position to convey
positive feminist identity from the culture values and stereotypical norms, by
representing alternative imaginary of fatness, and reversing the traditional
roles of male through its appropriation of the carnivalesque. Furthermore, comedy
film like ‘Norbit’ is suggested to contribute to the marginalization of fat
woman by making fun of slender character in order to criticise them. (See
Appendix 1).

Moreover, comedy in regards to fatness can be linked to the incongruity
theory.  According to McGhee (1979) in
his Humour: Its Origin and Development,
“the notions of congruity and incongruity refer to the relationship between
components of an object, event, idea, and social expectation, and when the
arrangement of the constituent elements of an event is incompatible with the normal
or expected pattern, the event is perceived as incongruous. The incongruity
disappears only when the pattern is seen to be meaningful or compatible in a
previously overlooked way” (p. 6-7). In
other words, the cause of humour is simply occurred
when one predicts an outcome but something unexpected and out of the place
happens. Incongruity, in this perspective, when a fat character is represented
in a way that is not considered clichéd, it is funny because they run from our expectations. Therefore, representation
of Fat Amy in comedy film ‘Pitch Perfect’
is assumed to play a significant role in presenting alternative fat female
identity through the incongruity of comedy, as her character is an opposite of
what the audiences could imagine. Though most of the jokes are highlighting her
body weight, her role is straying from the social norms and cultural
expectations of a fat female such as being less competent and lack of

While incongruity theory points to
the potential for comedy to surprise and consequently causes the audiences to
laugh. Superiority theory is also suggested to capture the nature of comic
amusement. Referring to the classic texts of Plato, Aristotle, and Hobbes, philosopher
John Morreall (1982) argues that, “The oldest, and probably still the most
widespread theory of laughter is that laughter is an expression of a person’s
feelings of superiority over other people”. However, superiority theory is not
only a form of expression, but also has the potential to challenge power and
relations hierarchy. According to Morreall (1983), Aristotle purposes the view
that laughter can serve a ‘social corrective’, in which comedy helps to create a
sense of understanding of society as a whole, hence reflecting existing social


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