OPINION: Pity the fat man. It is an unforgiving irony of our fast-food dominated world that those who wear its consequences around their waist and in the jowl lines are so often societal pariahs.
Excessive size is equated with indiscipline, if not moral laxness. The obese have "let themselves go", indulging the sensual pleasures. The sins of greed and sloth are writ large upon their bodies. There can be no excuse for corpulence.
In a society at least nominally disinclined toward prejudice, it is always open season on the fat man. To reference a body's pigmentation is anathema, to stress its dimension is good sport or a public heath announcement.
The fat joke is a perennial, as popular today in the age of Ricky Gervais as it was in Roscoe Arbuckle's day, though it's always been a risky business being a weighty comedian. Fatty Arbuckle was infamously crucified by the American press, his career ruined at its height as public speculation about his lecherous, partying ways got in the way of the truth when it came to a rape trial.
Gervais might have fared a little better but I doubt that Hollywood offers have been thick on the ground after his brutal, take-no-prisoners antics fronting the Golden Globes this year. Never have I seen such open disdain from stars for a fellow performer. If there's one thing the world can't stand it's an uppity fat man.
Which brings me to Kim Dotcom.
For weeks now the jolly behemoth has cast his considerable shadow over our cultural landscape. Not that it's his fault. The FBI seems convinced – or bound to convince New Zealand courts – that Dotcom is the most dangerous chubby German since Herman Goering. For most of us Dotcom's roly-poly frame brings to mind more Roald Dahl's lolly-guzzling Teuton Augustus Gloop, even if the spectacular business success and opulent lifestyle suggest that it was he and not Charlie who inherited Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.
Was Megaupload Dotcom's Luftwaffe, laying waste to America's intellectual property like some Stuka strafing the innocent? Or was it no better or worse than any other file-sharing website?
Considering what's available on YouTube and the other, more specialist sites mentioned by Dotcom in his recent interview with John Campbell, the man's prosecution appears suspiciously selective. In fact, Dotcom's calm demeanour and reasoned arguments when it comes to defending the legality of his operations are compelling indeed. How could he have been in business for so long and on such a scale if the service provided by Megaupload was fundamentally criminal? If it were in any way suspect would not he have had to defend his practice in court long before this time? Would an international money launderer splash his face all over the internet, driving fast cars, posing with scantily clad women and generally acting the goat?
It would be drawing a long bow to claim that Kim Dotcom has been singled out for special treatment merely because of his waistline. I am suggesting, though, that it's likely that he's said or done something to incur the wrath of those in American law enforcement – something that is not illegal in itself – and that fat prejudice has played a role in the excessive, unjustified manner in which he has been pursued, arrested and incarcerated.
That the New Zealand police have been pawns in the FBI's political games, wasting resources and taxpayer money, is a disgrace. Judging by the scale of the raid on the Dotcom mansion and the absurd lengths taken to keep the man in prison it appears that our constabulary was labouring under the misapprehension they were after a James Bond villain. Think of all the real criminals and crimes that could have otherwise been investigated if our flak-jacketed boys in blue weren't playing out their movie fantasies.
In his lifestyle and general good humour Kim Dotcom roughly corresponds to some of the fat cliches. He clearly likes his food and enjoys a good time. Only a fool, though, would mistake his success for anything other than hard work or his words for anything less than cutting-edge technological wisdom. His is the face of the 21st century businessman, an internet entrepreneur who didn't invent piracy and does no more to facilitate it than any of his competitors. As with much in the FBI's dirty little history, his prosecution is rank hypocrisy. It's morally inconsistent, legally suspect, and an impolite way to treat a generous guest of this country.
- © Fairfax NZ News