Fat Guy Falling

[Content Note: Fat bias.]

Yesterday, in my review of The Heat, I drew a comparison between the way Melissa McCarthy's character is drawn and the way Kevin James, despite being a super athletic fat guy, is routinely portrayed as a clumsy fat doofus for laughs. This morning, I read that there is a Tumblr called "The Kevin James Falling Record," which is a "public record documenting how many times Kevin James falls down in each of his movies."

screen cap of the site, which features a repeating background image of actor Kevin James lying on his back with his face busted up

The author of the site has also compiled a video documenting "Every Moment of Kevin James Falling in his Entire Film Career," which is a supercut "of every moment of Kevin James falling down in a feature film from 2005 to 2012."

[Video Description: Scene after scene of Kevin James falling down in his various films.]

Total number of pratfalls: 64.

Now, there are a lot of comedic actors who fall a lot in their movies, and there is certainly a tradition in slapstick comedy of men "getting hurt" for laughs. (See: The Three Stooges.) But there is also a very specific tradition of fat men pratfalling, and "getting hurt," for laughs, which is funny in the specific way that fat people falling is regarded as extra funny. YouTube has an entire section of videos of fat people falling. There is a Facebook page dedicated to Fat People Falling Down, which explains on its About page:
Double points if they're eating whilst they take their epic tumble.

Whether you're walking down the street, at the mall, or just hiding in the bushes, we all get a strange sense of joy and happiness that is rival only to Christmas morning or a celebrity nipple slip when we see a rather portly individual lose their balance and start to wobble. The Germans...have a word for this, that word is "Schadenfreude" which is a psychological term that suggests that an individual gets some form of pleasure from the misfortunes of others. As far as we here at "fat people falling down" are concerned, the bigger the other, the bigger the pleasure.
When you search for "fat people falling," Google helpfully offers these related searches:

screen cap of Google's 'Searches related to fat people falling' reading: 'fat people falling videos / fat people falling down stairs / fat people falling down / fat people jokes / fat people falling off tables / fat people falling photos / fat people falling pictures / fat people falling down videos'

Kevin James is just giving The People what they want: Lots and lots of images of a fat person falling down.

But why do The People want that? Well. I think we know.

It's not that Melissa McCarthy never falls in The Heat (or any other film). It's not that I'm suggesting Kevin James should never fall in a film. It's that there's a line between being a fat comedic actor who occasionally does pratfalls, and being a Professional Falling Fat Person who lets audiences delight in your mistreatment. And Kevin James is way the hell over that line.

It grieves me to see someone so genuinely graceful use his talents to indulge fat-hating humor, by playing to the pernicious stereotype that all fat people are clumsy, disastrous wrecks whose bodies are never more delightful than when they're being harmed.

[Note: Lest anyone mistakenly imagine I am holding Kevin James responsible for something over which he has no control, I will note once again that he is a writer and/or producer on most of these projects.]

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