Political Correctness Delusions #1: Melissa McCarthy’s Weight Has Nothing To do With Her Success

melissa-mccarthyOne of the many reasons political correctness is unethical is its attempt to not only exercise speech and thought control, but thought distortion and fantasy. In “Entertainment” magazine, Karen Valby scolds journalists and fans who keep mentioning the weight of actress Melissa McCarthy….you know, the morbidly obese comic who has made her career playing funny obese characters. According to Valby, this is sexism. After all, she says, heavy actors aren’t constantly hectored about their girth. Then she cites a group of actors who are usually heavy but do not play “fat” characters, and mixes in a few who do (John Goodman, Kevin James), hoping we won’t notice. John Goodman’s weight never discussed? Tell us another. Kevin James? James’ body fat percentage was a punchline approximately ten times a week on “The King of Queens.” Moreover, of the men, only Goodman is obese. Like McCarthy. Oops, I said it.

McCarthy is one of those comic actors, like Kathy Kinney, Jackie Gleason, Fatty Arbuckle, Lou Costello, Curly Howard, and Wayne (“Newman”) Knight, whose rotundity is inseparable from their character’s comedy. In “Mike and Molly,” a sitcom about a blue collar, obese married couple, the fat is the gimmick. McCarthy is funny and talented, but playing the funny fat woman is her niche. Valby (or McCarthy) can argue that she would still rake in starring turns if she was 130 pounds, but who is she kidding? A thin McCarthy would be thrown into a large, competitive pool of comic actresses, and there would be no guarantee that she could prevail. McCarthy is no fool: Valby says she is comfortable with her body, and maybe she is, but she is especially comfy with the income her unique body type generates.

Never mind, though. Since focusing on any woman’s weight is per se sexist, decrees Valby, Melissa McCarthy’s size should never be mentioned again, which only makes sense on Political Correctness World. In the real world, it makes about as much sense as never referencing Yul Brenner’s pate, Betty Davis’s eyes, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles, or Clark Gable’s mustache. “I don’t want to waste any more ink on a subject so irrelevant to McCarthy’s success,” Valby sniffs.

How sensitive. How idiotic. We  must ignore the single aspect of McCarthy’s persona that most distinguishes her and is her most marketable feature, however much she flaunts it, because Valby has added thinking of a fat actress as fat to the list of taboo thoughts.

After all, McCarthy’s weight is irrelevant to her success.

45 thoughts on “Political Correctness Delusions #1: Melissa McCarthy’s Weight Has Nothing To do With Her Success

  1. John Belushi, Rodney Dangerfield, John Candy, Cedric the Entertainer, Oliver Hardy, Chris Farley, Jack Black….All funny, all fat. It’s part of the shtick that works for them. I doubt very much that Melissa McCarthy would mind being on that list

  2. True, but some performers the fat was more incidental to their performance in music, though it contributed to early deaths, like Fats Waller & Cass Eliot. So we can discuss it. There should be somthing between: ignoring it and seeming PC, err silly, and being cruel or dismissive.

  3. She herself not only discusses it she plays off of it. It’s a way to open the discussion if nothing else.
    Making fat forbidden to discuss will end up putting it into the same category as far too many other obvious but verboten subjects. There is only one PC way to address it and any other is out. Soon we will only be able to negatively discuss conservative fat people.
    Only conservatives are constrained by PC considerations. Liberals get a pass because everyone knows their hearts are in the right place.
    Has anyone done a study on how the percentages fall? More conservative fat people or more liberal fat people?

    • Soon we will only be able to negatively discuss conservative fat people.
      Bwahaha !
      I’m not usually able to laugh until at least 11.

  4. Looks matter in Hollywood. Most actors wouldn’t be as successful but for their extreme good looks. That’s why Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron,etc. are so willing to play ugly characters once they become successful. They are trying to prove that their beauty is irrelevant to their careers. Whatever.

    Kathy Bates and Roseanne Barr should be added to your list above. Melissa McCarthy is just a newer version of Rosie O’Donnell.

    I think a more interesting spin on this is unattractive actors/actresses. Putting weight aside, can you think of any leading men or women who aren’t beautiful? Character actors certainly, but leading roles?

    I never thought that Bette Davis was pretty, but that could be a generational thing. Maybe Spencer Tracy?

    • Putting weight aside, can you think of any leading men or women who aren’t beautiful? Character actors certainly, but leading roles?
      Well, Seth Rogan and Jack Black come to mind.
      If we are to include Adrien Brody, he certainly doesn’t have conventional good looks.
      It’s too early for me.

    • Humphrey Bogart. Jack Nicholson. Orson Welles. Jimmy Cagney. Barbara Stanwyck. Fred Astaire. Donald O’Connor. Ahnold. Sylvester Stallone. Roddy McDowell. Gene Hackman. Dustin Hoffman. Mickey Rooney. Dick Van Dyke. Frank Sinatra….

        • Only because the men stand out….and sure, there are a lot more of them. June Allyson. Glenda Jackson. Cate Blanchette. Barbra Streisand. Judy Garland. Marjorie Main.

          Many critics thought Katherine Hepburn was unattractive when she started out. They were insane.

          • When choosing between Judy Garland and Deanna Durbin the rumor is that one of the studio execs said “fire the FAT one!” Deanna got the boot, and Judy continued on with that studio. Not sure who won that one. Judy got eternal fame but a shorter and much less pleasant life, Deanna lived a long life, but as a recluse.

            • Only a recluse in Hollywood terms, and only after great success, quitting at the top. She married a wealthy French guy, lived in the French countryside on a farm, had kids.

              • …and hid from the world until she died and to this day no one even knows where her grave is. That said, she also got out of the culture of alcohol and drugs and fast living, which contributed mightily to Judy’s early demise.

                • In essence, she had it all. She was a top 10 movie star for years, made money, made popular films, was famous, then had a normal life away from the spotlight, which isn’t exactly the same as living in a cave. The world knows and cares nothing about me, but I’m hardly hiding from it.

                  • Same here. Once or twice I have hit the papers with regard to a case. Frankly I think that if Deanna could have lived in a cave, or more likely on some island somewhere she would have done it. I do think she did hide, though, she refused at least four major offers (after which time they stopped coming since the studio bosses weren’t idiots and knew they were wasting their time) and gave ONE interview in all her retirement. She also did not get involved in charities or any of the other good causes that celebrities who retire from the stage usually do. I suppose that was her prerogative, but I was brought up to believe that if you did well an obligation attached to give back. I think my main problem is that she dropped out of sight at the age of 30, not 60. If anyone drops out at 60, then I agree, they’ve paid their dues and are entitled to go lie on the beach or chase a little white ball.

                    • She dropped out at 30, but she had been working since she was about 12, and in a killing profession. I really see no difference between what she did and what Jimmy Cagney did, ending his career prematurely and living quietly on Martha’s Vineyard.

                    • Kinda, although Cagney continued to be active in charities and make the very occasional public appearance. He also had a few health problems, mostly related to initially misdiagnosed diabetes, which they couldn’t do as much for then.

                    • I don’t see the relevance of charities to this discussion. A movie star doesn’t owe anyone charitable involvement. What kind of charities could Durbin, who didn’t retain that name, pursue using her Holltwood celebrity in the French countryside? She raised a family. Good enough.

                    • Well, I don’t keep a list of charities that have offices in France, though I’m sure there were a few. I also will admit, during her still-prime years there it wasn’t as easy to get around or communicate, whereas today you can be involved from anywhere in the world. I’m still grappling with the issue as to whether those who have made it big off of entertaining others owe a duty to give back, be accessible, etc.,and if so, how much. Pretty much all existing celebrities are active in some kind of charity, although I wonder how much of it is sincere and how much is to keep their tax bill down (i.e. Bill O’Reilly). You seem to have made up your mind that celebrities don’t owe any duty to give back. I’m not sure I agree. I just think DD is an extreme example of dropping out of the bigger picture. I hope that when my time to retire comes I don’t end up spending it in an isolated house on a hill in rural Pennsylvania where the groceries get dropped off once a week and paid for online.

                    • I don’t see how they have any more obligation to “give back” than anyone else. Most who are big and visible charity types do it for career benefits. Jerry Lewis is the most exemplary exception to that.

                    • Unfortunately true, although Gary SInise is one of the sincere ones (playing for deployed soldiers and vets with his Lt. Dan Band) and Katherine Jenkins actually came under fire while going to entertain UK troops abroad.

          • Cate Blanchette? I think she is stunning — but she does have striking features like Hepburn that some people might read as man-ish. Barbra certainly — but studios couldn’t overlook her voice. I think Judy Garland was pretty too. I don’t know the others.

              • An ugly actress wouldn’t have been cast as Galadriel or Queen Elizabeth. I might add Cate is also 45 and still getting substantive roles, long after the rom-com cuties have passed their sell-by date. Barbra Streisand, much as I think her politics suck, is the number-one selling female vocalist of all time and could retire tomorrow, so her appearance means almost nothing.

                • But that wasn’t the question. Fred Astaire’s looks meant almost nothing too. The inquiry was about leading actors and actresses, as opposed to supporting ones, who were not “beautiful.” Frank Sinatra?

    • “Most actors wouldn’t be as successful but for their extreme good looks.”

      I don’t think so. Those actors are successful because they are good actors. But because the market can’t support every single good actor/actress, it culls the herd. A visual art, acting will certainly cull in favor of attractiveness (where overriding visual characteristics aren’t key to a role).

      So what?

  5. In “Entertainment” magazine, Karen Valby scolds journalists and fans who keep mentioning the weight of actress Melissa McCarthy…

    Apparently, Ms. Valby has an inherent bias regarding people of larger girth otherwise she would not find references to the actresses weight objectionable unless the journalist’s and fan’s comments were made to disparage Ms. McCarthy or minimize her value to society. I don’t think that the fans would want her any other way. Ms. Valby did not condemn journalists and fans from describing other actor’s physical characteristics when those are characteristics considered the social ideal. It could be equally said that Cameron Diaz’s unique facial features make her able to pull off comedic and serious roles. Should we not mention Tom Selleck’s strong square jaw and wavy locks that are so attractive to women?

    So I can only conclude that Ms. Valby wants to protect the actress from her perception of taunts and jeers that she (Valby) might shower upon a mere mortal and not an acclaimed female actress that might actually advance her own career. Psychologists call this projection.

    Endo and Mesomorph body types are far too often associated with laziness, lack of self control, and slovenliness. Ms. McCarthy’s, et al, success destroys that unsubstantiated assumption. Ms. McCarthy did not achieve success by sitting on her butt eating bon-bons. Comments like Ms. Valby’s seem to be intended to reinforce that assumption that something is wrong with Ms. McCarthy’s physical stature.

    In Hollywood, trying to achieve the current look of youth, sex appeal, and health has crippled numerous actresses trying artificially change their genetically programmed weight to such a degree that they face even more serious health risks. Male actors are given more leeway on weight but they are not shy of the surgeon’s knife to remain socially acceptable in appearance. How many of us feed this obsession when we must have the latest tabloid that features the best and worst beach bodies?

    Some biases are well intentioned such as those that focus on the health and well-being of the individual but the only people in my life that have standing to lay that claim is my family and my doctor. People’s health matters are of no concern to others. Unfortunately, some people feel the need to counsel those with what appear to be visible health risks that are socially unacceptable under the guise of concern. My analysis suggests the only true motivation behind much of what I see as feigned concern is that friends are often torn between being a friend and being seen with what others see as social outcasts. It’s perceived as guilt by association. A real friend never has to make that choice.

    • People’s health matters are of no concern to others.
      In a world where other people pay for the health care of others people’s health matters are of great concern to others. That is how government controls people. You get to be very “concerned” about what you extort money from taxpayers to pay for.

      • Wyogranny
        You and I share many similar opinions but on this one I am not sure how to respond. Your reply on its face seems to suggest that others should be concerned but then you mention it is how government controls people. Correct me if I am wrong, but my reading of your reply is that people should get concerned when the government demands that they pay for other’s benefits and we should have the ability to demand behavioral adjustments or criticize the behavior. I’d like to point out that to accomplish group norms it requires a central power to enforce them. That is exactly what the current administration is orchestrating.

        Whether I run every day or smoke cigarettes should be of no concern to anyone but me, my family and those that I pay to obtain medical services. My health care expenses are born by me alone. Yes I am in a risk pool by virtue of health insurance but I accept the fact that others in that pool may have serious health conditions that require expensive treatments not at my specific expense but to the insurer that sets the price I pay. Until this year I had the option to increase or decrease my coverage expense based on my willingness to pay. No longer, because the government has decreed what I must pay for. It’s just like cable, I can use a lot or I can use a little everyone pays the same for a standardized level of service. Do I have the option to not buy certain channels in my package- no, I understand that going into the deal. The difference now is that I can only opt out of paying for cable.

        To suggest that my health matters to others because it imposes third party costs can be extended to all types of behaviors and conditions. For example, should I have to pay extra for the inherent risk associated with running ( knee injuries), rock climbing (trauma from falls) and other high adventure sports (skydiving – auto racing – skateboarding ). The answer to that it is part of the deal.

        If we extend that argument further should I have to pay into a system that protects life at all costs such as a premature crack baby, a child that suffers from a genetic disorder, or an adult with serious traumatic brain injury. The answer depends on how you value human life. If you are pro abortion then the value of all life is self-evident. Conversely, if you are pro-life then the answer depends on what is of greater value to you money or life. I am making no judgments on anyone because eventually every decision regarding allowing or prolonging life hinges on a cost benefit analysis.

        If we use the auto insurance industry (which is often used to justify Obamacare) should we demand that only mature adults can drive – one ticket and you can’t drive because you are too risky. Homeowners insurance could be targeted as well. Do I really want to have to tell my neighbor to fix his sidewalk or not light candles in his home because of the financial costs his behavior may imposes upon me indirectly? Hell no.

        Theoretically, if we applied the idea that we should manage others behaviors that impose third party costs we could extend the notion of how many children a family can have because each child delivered in a hospital costs everyone in the risk pool without children extra money. Also there should be a carbon tax on each child because that child will require the consumption of resources over his/her lifetime not to mention that the child will expel copious amounts of CO2 through respiration. I think you see how far we can extend the argument.

        I personally do not want to allocate how many kids a family can have. If I did I would have to impose mandatory abortion (China) or limit the amount of unprotected sex 2 other adults could perform per month – based of course on a government risk assessment for fertilization.

        Not all health issues are behaviorally based. As I pointed out, I specifically identified meso- and endomorphic body types. These are genetically programmed and not the result of overeating. Based on many of your previous comments I doubt that you would want government controlling exactly what you eat, when you eat it or what physical exercise regimen you MUST follow. If we cannot tell food stamp recipients that they must buy only healthy food then I cannot justify telling someone what or how much they can consume when they use their own resources.

        Here is what I do find interesting. The left is up in arms about the Hobby Lobby decision yesterday. Many feminists and their supporters feel that other people should provide all forms of preventative care for free at either taxpayer, worker, or shareholder expense. Using their line of reasoning I should not have to pay for my water / sewer bill or trash collection bill. These two represent the two most fundamental preventative health services there are. These two public health services have virtually eliminated bubonic plague, cholera, and typhus in our society. Eliminate them and our society will witness the effects of epidemic disease outbreaks. So, if I am willing to pay hundreds of dollars a year out of pocket for these services why is it so hard to have the copulating couple spring for the morning after pill once in a while?

        Health care costs rise for a variety of reasons. Enhanced diagnostic and treatment procedures are the principal reason. An aging population that is living longer puts added strain on a system that is not growing fast enough to accommodate all demand for immediate advanced services. Personal behavior may be part of increases in costs but that is the price of freedom to live one’s life as he or she chooses.

        • I was speaking as facetiously as if I were a liberal. I agree 100 percent personal health matters are no one’s business.

          • Whew! Thought so but had to double check. I would however say that a member of the left would never acknowledge his or her true intention of wanting to control. They want us to believe that they truly care about our well being. That is exactly the impression Karen Valby wanted us to take away. She felt the need to defend another, far more successful, women because she really cares. It really couldn’t be that she simply needed a topic to expound upon.

  6. Beth: “Putting weight aside, can you think of any leading men or women who aren’t beautiful? Character actors certainly, but leading roles?”

    Steve Buscemi? I know he was not in the leading role in Fargo or the Big Lebowski, but he was prominent in both.

    Gary Busey?


    • There are lists of uglies on various movie sites.
      Come on, people, Mickey Rourke didn’t always look that way…

  7. As a funny character woman who is neither FAT nor SLIM, I know for a fact what niche she’s filling. She’s FUNNY, and part of what got her where she is is her talent at that and working hard to get her funny out there. But another part IS that physicality, because there are a lot of niches in casting. I used to joke that since I’d not enjoy life at all if I tried to be actually slim enough to fit a different spot, maybe I should eat a lot and get really into ‘fat’ so that casting decisions would put me in a different niche. I never did. I feel like Valby’s protestations are worse that just saying, “Yeah, she’s heavy, but she’s funny and a great actress!” And then shutting up. Because the ink she wasted being weirdly defensive of McCarthy, who doesn’t get defensive about it, is just odd.

    • ” Because the ink she wasted being weirdly defensive of McCarthy, who doesn’t get defensive about it, is just odd.”

      I don’t disagree with your conclusion, but this isn’t logical. IF, McCarthy actually was the victim of unethical conduct, her denial of or inability to see it doesn’t change that the conduct was unethical. So, anyone who wishes to point out unethical conduct, even though the victim of that conduct doesn’t acknowledge it, wouldn’t be “wasted” or “weird”. No, the defender in this case is wrong for other reasons.

    • Exactly. The piece began by properly excoriating some critics (like REX REED? Who reeds Rex Reed? It’s he one of the Walking Dead?) and social media fools who denigrate MM for her weight, but then veered of into arguing that any mention of her weight was verboten.

      The casting niche almost always works the other way: Sethh Rogen is back to being heavier again, as is Jonah Hill, because they play shlubs, and the weight was an asset. Wayne Knight lost all his excess weight, and also all is parts, until he beefed up again. Kathy Najimi, who was as overweight as McCarthy, git slim and her career never recovered. For most of these actors, losing the weight is like Jennifer Grey’s nose job–they look better, but they also look like lots of other actors. This would especially be true for McCarthy, who is gorgeous.

      • That’s right of course. I think all the insanity here is because 95% of all the actors take drastic and unhealthy measures to stay slim, so the constant need to be PC about someone who obviously is overweight. Maybe they are grumpy because they are hungry and all want to be able to eat like Seth Rogen or McCarthy.

        Then there are those actresses who were type cast as bombshells and then they got fat. Like Jennifer Grey’s nosejob, they also fell into obscurity because Hollywood didn’t want them. Delta Burke comes to mind there.

  8. Ok but I the “larger” point is that people don’t constantly refer to a males weight when discussing their work as much as they do with women. Goodman is an actor. Kevin James is an actor. And people tend to view them as such. But a heavy woman will be thought of as that fat woman who stars in the movie. As my mother always said. “It’s a mans world”. But cheers for Melissa for taking it on. I go see all of her movies.

    • But Karen, as I wrote, people ALWAYs Talk about Kevin James’ weight, and Goodman’s, and John Candy’s, and Chris Farley’s, and Orson Welles, etc. When being overweight becomes that much of a performer’s persona, it is never avoided. People who say that McCarthy is being treated differently in that respect because she is a woman are selectively ignoring how men are treated. It is true that actresses who are no obese have their weight discussed when corresponding men do not, but that’s irrelevant to McCarthy.

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