Onion “columnist” Philip Von Zweck is fat. He’s not heavyset, he’s fat — and he’s not going to take it anymore. Zweck begs in this week’s edition of the nation’s foremost satire magazine: “Can’t someone in Washington help me? Please?“
Sadly, The Onion’s satirical take isn’t that far from reality. Yale professor Kelly Brownell has been blaming obesity on the nation’s “toxic food environment” for years. Brownell, who wants to “get away from these arguments about personal responsibility,” advocates “Twinkie taxes,” zoning regulations on restaurants and convenience stores, and other Draconian measures intended to restrict our food choices. Poking fun at Brownell’s ilk, Zweck writes with tongue firmly planted in his cheek:
My obesity is a direct result of the sheer volume of high-calorie, low-nutrition foodstuffs that are constantly available for my consumption. I go to the grocery store and load my cart with gallon upon gallon of pure-cream ice cream, bags and bags of so-called “healthy” chips, and enough cereal, frozen dinners, and candy bars to nourish an ox. No one even bats an eye. The cashiers blithely ring me up. The bag boys don’t even complain that it takes them seven trips to get all of my food into the car. Everyone just acts like it’s not their problem … I never could’ve packed on so many excess pounds without the thousands of farmers, truckers, grocers, and restaurateurs that supplied the steady stream of food I shoveled into my mouth for days and weeks and years without pause. I wish someone would do something to change that. Because, listen, I know myself, and I know that if restaurants keep frying food, I’ll never convince myself to stop shoving brown, crispy food down my throat. It’s time for some action. Stop me! Or stop them! I don’t know! Just do something!
Let’s hope in this case that the past is not a prologue. An August 2000 Onion headline read: “Hershey’s Ordered to Pay Obese Americans $135 Billion.” Less than two years later, trial lawyer Samuel Hirsch turned parody into reality when he sued four fast food chains for allegedly making his client fat.