Vegas' Appalling "Heart Attack Grill" Restaurant Fat-Shames The People Who Eat There
Want a cheeseburger? Hell, who doesn't? There are plenty of places to find one — but if I can make any plea, here it is: Don't eat at the Heart Attack Grill. Because frankly, that place is a fat-shaming mess, regardless of whatever spin its owner puts on it. That owner is Jon Basso, whose mortality-themed, fat-shaming Heart Attack Grill was featured on the pilot of documentarian Morgan Spurlock's new Showtime series, 7 Deadly Sins, which aired Sunday night.
For the unfamiliar, the Heart Attack Grill is, well, aptly named. The menu items are plays on some of the catastrophic heart issues which can often result from obesity — the Quadruple Bypass Burger, for example, which contains four huge beef patties, broken up by a thick layer of cheese, bacon, and onions. His self-proclaimed message, as voiced on the show? "No, I’m not going to call you ‘plus-size.’ I’m not going to say you’re ‘portly.’ No, you’re fat. Lose some weight, or just hurry up and die and be done with it." Class. Act.
They also serve Coronary Dogs, Flatliner Fries, and cigarettes, which they advertise as a vegan option. And, of course, maybe their most infamous policy: If you weigh yourself at the restaurant and you're over 350 pounds (according to Yahoo News, the weigh-ins are done with a cattle scale) you get a free meal. In other words, the heavier you are, the more eager Basso's restaurant is to make an example of you and ply you with some of the unhealthiest free food you're likely to find anywhere.
Clearly, it's paid off — his Las Vegas restaurant is successful, controversial, and even getting a little screen time in Spurlock's new show. But Basso's efforts to cast himself as some sort of noble, truth-spitting opponent of obesity and unhealthy eating, all while lining his pockets dishing up 9,000-plus calorie hamburgers, is a little rich. As he said on the show, according to Yahoo News:
It’s a sacrifice that has to be made. Somebody has got to stand here and say, ‘Screw it. Wake up, world. You’re fat.’ No, I’m not going to call you ‘plus-size.’ I’m not going to say you’re ‘portly.’ No, you’re fat.
See? A sacrifice that has to be made. Jon Basso is enduring this noble sacrifice so that overweight people can die quicker and he can get richer. Wait, what? Basso spoke further to Yahoo Health, claiming that he does "more to combat the obesity epidemic than any other individual in the country, including the Surgeon General" — though in acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak's defense, he never encourages anyone to "hurry up and die."
If you’re a real fat guy, you’re not going to go to the gym, you’re not going to seek help. So I’m the first point of contact. And the first step to healing is awareness. Some of these people don’t even know how big they are.... I am probably the only restaurateur in the entire world who is unapologetically telling you that my food is bad for you, that it will kill you, and that you should stay away from it.
Of course, he's not exactly urging you to stay away from it — he's front-lining the health concerns and then doing everything he can to get you to eat it. He concedes his financial motivation in the series, as Yahoo News details:
I may snicker my way to the bank, but I’m the luckiest guy in the world, because I’m able to be an artist.
His "snickering" to the bank is also somewhat reflected in the restaurants' crude objectification of the "nurses" who serve their food — scantily clad women will serve you, covering the fat-shaming and macabre theme with a layer of sexism. Fail to finish your monstrosity of a hamburger? The nurses will spank you with paddles.
A brief glance at the restaurant's menu lays bare the strategy — fatty foods, at insane portions, and sexy ladies to serve it to you. So how long until Basso claims the Heart Attack Grill is actually anti-sexist performance art, as well?