Between the Thorns

FatLadyObit Goes Viral

McCullough Obiturary“Plain of feature, and certainly overweight” is how a leading Australian newspaper began its obituary for a woman who is perhaps Australia’s most celebrated novelist. Should we mention that she was also a neuroneuroscientist? Immediately, FatLadyObit hit viral status.

Colleen McCullough wrote The Thorn Birds, which became an international best seller, sold more than 30 million copies in more than 20 languages, and became one of the most-watched television mini-series ever. In 1997 McCullough was named one of Australia’s national living treasures.

This episode speaks volumes — both good and bad — about how we are looking at obesity around the world. Ignorant, bigoted attitudes are still sufficiently common that editors could let such a stupid obituary go to print. But such attitudes are now generating impressive blowback. Within hours of this obiturary, millions of people around the world were mocking The Australian with tweets using the #FatLadyObit and #MyOzObituary hashtags. Here’s one of countless parodies:

Perhaps soon, this will be a quaint memory — an example of something people just no longer do.

Click here to read more about the controversy from ThinkProgress and here for a real remembrance of McCollough.

Between the Thorns, photograph © Mark Robinson / flickr

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