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Who put whitey in the White House?

April 12, 2011

I always find the lyrics above, from the Crash Test Dummies song, Keep a Lid on Things rather provocative.  I have no idea what the meaning of this song is, but the meaning of these lyrics are pretty clear (although currently awesomely wrong).

To me, this lyric points out just who is to blame for the state of the world and I find it fascinating and shocking how we are so consistently our own worst advocates for what is best for us.  What I find more interesting though is how pervasive this behavior is in everyday life and in every one of us.

A Little Background….

Recently I listened to a phone seminar about how to get booked on TV talk shows and news shows.  I knew when I wrote ‘You Are Not A Fit Person’, it was an uphill battle to get press for the book and the ideas within.  After all, the book specifically advises you to ignore celebrities and fit athletes.  It has no quick fixes and advises you to change your vision to a long term activity based lifestyle.  I knew it was going to be a tough sell, but I really had no idea how tough.

During this seminar, past bookers for different shows offered their advice and each and every one of them seemed to say the same thing amidst their own unique tips.  Every one of them said, ‘Nobody is going to do a show about how to lose weight by eating better and exercising more’.  They would laugh when they said it and everyone would agree as if this is an inside joke in the talk show and news industry, as if everyday they turn down hundreds of experts who suggest that the cure to our obesity crisis could be as simple as exercising and eating well…

Several of the bookers suggested that if you wanted to get on a talk show and discuss weight loss you might want to suggest certain foods that will burn fat and then offer to bring the foods and any recipes with you to the show.  They went on to share with us some lunatics that they booked onto shows, lunatics with absolutely crack pot theories and literally no credentials, yet they were able to get them presented as experts on talk shows.  In fact, they suggested that you shouldn’t wait until you have done something significant and certainly don’t wait until you have written a book before you get yourself booked onto a talk show, instead focus your efforts on proposing controversial and entertaining bits that are ideally topical as well.

Where does that leave us?

The thing was, these people weren’t conning us (at least not on this part of their pitch, the ‘sale’ of course came later), they were really offering great advice.  These people actually booked people on shows in a previous job and they know what it takes to get on the shows.  It is this extreme opinion that we are actually being presented with every day, from talk shows, to news shows to magazines.  It is the actual noise we are hearing from ‘experts’ on all forms of media.  It doesn’t matter that most of these people are crackpots that are elevated to the level of expert by the exact show that is presenting their controversial and almost guaranteed ‘too good to be true’ theory.  It doesn’t matter that science plays so little of a role in the support of media reporting that it isn’t hard to imagine that the scientific method is dead in pop culture.  It doesn’t matter that each and every form of media has its own way of presenting overblown headlines and captivating hooks that ask questions about regular household objects that could be killing us, despite the fact that every day the human lifespan extends or that they have cured obesity despite the continual increase in obesity rates.  What actually matters is that they have tricked the  viewer or reader to tune in again, and like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last minute, we are always let down by the actual story behind the headlines.  Still time and time again we listen to the claims of these producers because these producers know that they have to offer us more and more to keep our attention.

Because we know that the shows deal in hyperbole we had better get an offer of 25 pounds of fat lost per week before we buy into another diet fad.  The thing is, that is clearly a lie and we know it.  We know that television shows lie like a drug addict trying to get a fix, but we always assume a grain of truth, we always assume they couldn’t just say it if it weren’t true.  If they offer 25 pounds, maybe we get 5.  If they offer 10, then the diet is probably worthless.  Still the actual experts say that 1 to 2 pounds a week is the most fat loss that you should expect from a diet.  If you tried to sell that on a TV show or magazine cover you would be taken off the air or get millions of magazines returned unpurchased.  I know I am not going to tune into a TV show that suggests that may be some evidence that the consumption of certain foods cooked in certain types of plastics may increase some risks of obesity in children.  Hell, I got rid of all of the plastics in my kitchen years ago when the first, totally incorrect claims of plastics making adults fat came out.  Certainly the small target market (pregnant women) and the questionability of the outcome (may increase some risks) have little value for me.  But the headline, You Could Lose 10 – 20 Pounds With No Effort Of Your Own Just By Making These Simple Changes in the Kitchen!!!  would nearly force me to tune in.  Same show, different headline.  Instead of putting scientists on who could explain the science and the mechanisms involved, they could put crackpots on who could inflate the fears and worries.  It even gets better for the big talk shows and news services because other subsidiary ones will pick up these same experts and to validate them they will credit the experts as having appeared as an expert on the bigger shows.  This works both ways.  Now the ‘experts’ have complete validation, the talk show gains exposures because it exposed this new ‘threat’ to our health and welfare and now we can all be healthy.  Except we can’t because there is almost no truth in what we have invested our time learning about.

The solution

What we know about health and weight management hasn’t changed in years.  Government response to it has changed.  Pop media’s response to it has changed almost daily, but the facts have remained the same.  Successful long term weight loss typically comes from a change of perspective that includes changing ones eating and exercise habits.  That is what we should be spending our time learning about by the way.  We don’t need any more books that tell us what to eat and what routines to do in the gym.  We need to learn how to include better foods in our daily diet while confronted with all of the stresses and opportunities of everyday life.  We need to learn how to enjoy exercises and actually learn to make it part of our routine.  If I could find ways for you to eat healthier and enjoy exercising, and I can, then you actually have a chance to get fit and lose weight.  That is what fit people are by the way, they are people who choose to eat healthy foods because they prefer them and choose to exercise because they would rather do that then watch TV.  Think about this for a minute.  Fit people are selling you on their diets and you will sometimes make a concerted effort to eat like them for a week or two.  You won’t enjoy it but you will suffer through for a week or two just to lose a few pounds.  You will go back to eating the way you used to right after and the weight will come right back.  Do you think the fit person switches to eating junk food?  Don’t you realize that is why they are fit.  You are visiting their world, they live there. It is no different for exercise.

The true irony to the situation is that we are the ones who need help, and we are the ones who control what media will present to us.  After all, they won’t show it if we don’t watch it.  They are literally just giving us what we are telling them we want.  But this isn’t what we REALLY want.  We want real solutions, not too good to be true ideas.  We actually want the help that we need.  We want to know how people are actually losing weight and keeping it off, yet we are being shown ridiculously beautiful and thin people that have either never had a weight problem or have motivations (modeling jobs and movies) that would compel anyone to lose weight.  We can win this divisive battle by becoming educated in what we actually need, methods to live healthier.  It is up to us to demand more and we can do this.  After all, who put all of this misinformation on TV?  The answer is the same to the question that the Crash Test Dummies Posed…  We did… we did…

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