Sunday, October 23, 2011

In Which I Talk About Bullies and How Humor Works

I follow alot of fitness magazines, and fitness personalities on Twitter. I mean, I like working out, so it's nice to use Twitter as a resource for all things work out and nutrition related.

One of the fitness magazines I follow is Men's Fitness. Now, I'm sure I'm not the typical Men's Fitness reader. I mean, I'm a nerd. A geek. An adult person who reads superhero comics for fun. But I like lifting weights, and Men's Fitness is sometimes a place to get helpful information about lifting weights.

This week, they posted an article in which a writer from Men's Fitness went to New York Comic Con. So far so good, no problems there, right? Well, what do you suppose the focus of the article was? Do you think it talked about news coming out of the comic world? Nope. The passion that comic fans have for their chosen medium? Uh uh.  Cool costumes that people made themselves. Negatory, Ghost Rider.

The article consisted mainly of a series of photos of NYCC attendees with captions making fun of them for being fat.  Yup. That's right. The jocks went to nerdfest to publish an article teasing the nerds.

Now, as a nerd who works out and performs comedy I have a unique perspective on this article. Or I hate it for more reasons than most people probably would.

Reason the first, or why I hate this article as a nerd- Because it's 2011 and teasing nerds, or anyone, is stupid, and immature. Get over yourself, Men's Fitness magazine. Grow up. Move on with your lives. Nerds are human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Reason the second, or why I hate this article as a weightlifting enthusiast- Because your magazine is called "Men's Fitness" not "Jocks Monthly." The whole point of your magazine is the advancement of physical fitness. How does teasing anyone help advance that goal?

Reason the third, or why I hate this article as a comedian- Because it's supposed to be funny and it's not. Comedy, at it's best, entertains, and advances ideas, or tells a story. Comedy fails when it's used as a means of oppression- to tease people who don't deserve to be teased. Teasing people, especially teasing people who can't defend themselves with fat jokes, is low comedy- it's easy comedy I would actually say it's lower than fart jokes and prat falls.

So I'm not going to link to the article in question here because I don't want to increase Men's Fitness's web traffic more than I probably already have. I just want to generally vent my displeasure. The author of the article, Jordan Burchette, and Men's Fitness magazine behaved like a schoolyard bully, and much like Captain America, I don't like bullies. Nerd, jock, preppy, skater, whatever, are all pretty silly labels when you really think about it. We're all human beings and we all deserve respect and dignity. Humor has a place, but that place isn't teasing people who don't deserve to be teased. A fitness magazine's goals, ideally, should be altruistic. They should be helping people- all people, get in shape. Making fun of people doesn't advance that goal.

In a perfect world, Men's Fitness would take the article off of their web site, issue a public apology, and fire the writer of the article. After observing their behavior towards the people who have responded negatively to the article, I don't really expect that to happen. But, if nothing else, I will probably never purchase another copy of Men's Fitness or visit their web site again. So, I'll consider that a small victory.


  1. Why don't you write a letter to the editor? You're the right kind of person to do it. I'm sure there are many others who read the magazine who would appreciate reading your argument/their point of view in the front pages of the next issue. Plus the magazine should be called out on it.

  2. I kind of already did. I mean, I didn't write a letter to the editor, but I did kind of get into a public argument with them on Twitter. Which was...probably hasty and immature. But I got alot of "You go geek!" comments and new followers, so there's that.

  3. yes. Thanks, brother.