Thursday, February 18, 2010

Southwest's Kevin Smith debacle

Have you guys seen this? It’s been all over the news – a PR disaster for Southwest Airlines, a brilliant PR scheme for Kevin Smith, director of the up-and-coming “Cop Out” with Bruce Willis, famous for his Silent Bob character. Evidently Kevin Smith was asked to get off a Southwest flight because he was too large. If you have four minutes, click the link and watch the video. It’s a debate (if you can even call it that) between a chubby woman representing the “National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance” and a skinny lady representing the “National Action Against Obesity.”

Kevin Smith has been throwing fits about his ejection from the flight for being too fat, although he had initially bought two seats for a later flight (he flew – or tried to fly, should I say – standby on the one which he was removed from). He said his two-seat purchase was because he preferred not to sit next to passengers. Bull. It’s because he’s fat – so fat, that he’s broken a toilet seat recently and has apparently admitted to his weight getting out of control. Plus, if it really bothered him that much to sit next to passengers, he shouldn’t fly first-come, first-serve Southwest Airlines on a nearly sold-out flight. Give me a break.

Whether or not it’s a PR stunt, the issue is still relevant and interesting to examine. Should an airline cater to the obese? One woman in the debate calls it discrimination not to, while the other says it would be forcing the public to subsidize poor eating/lifestyle habits. Apparently the two women seated next to Smith were asked if they felt encroached upon or interfered with, and replied with “no.” Is it just me, or does that seem like quite the unconvincing “no”? To say yes is awkward, especially if you know the guy is a Hollywood bigshot. But aside from airline policy I think the idea stands firm: if you have trouble fitting into an airline seat, perhaps it’s time to get on the treadmill.

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