Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category
I blogged about Oscar Pistorius’ bid to enter the Olympics (not the Paralympics) in 2008. If you don’t know who I am talking about he is a runner who has both lower legs amputated but has been fitted with a pair of “blades” which have been found to mimic a set of human feet in such a way that they do not give him an unfair advantage. This was not the case in 2008 if I remember correctly, but anyway, he was in for 2012. I did not even know about it until the Olympics already started this year. Anyway, I have not been able to muster up the level of interest it takes for me to blog about a subject even though it is admittedly a big turn of events. Now that the Olympics are almost over, I can say, well done, Oscar. It is progress. It muddies the waters between the land of the able and the land of the horrible, mangled creatures they call “disabled.”. So I am happy about that. I just don’t care too much. Come to think of it, I don’t really care that the Paralympics are starting, and I think I mentioned why, in 2008. There are categories that allow pretty much anyone to get into the Paralympics as long as you have a chipped tooth or got your foot run over by a bicycle when you were six or something. Seriously the categories are quite inclusive. Look it up. The Paralympics, it seems, are less specialized than the Olympics. So it is quite exclusive company Pistorius was in when he made it into the Olympics this year.
Hmm..maybe it really was a bigger deal than I thought. See that is what blogging does for me. It allows me to take an issue, and talk it out until I’ve come full circle, back where, I started, but with a new outlook.
Now that I have stated my demand, clearly and concisely, I’d like to note that once again in 2012 the Paralympics follows close on the heels of the Olympics. Once again it has been relegated to a Youtube channel, various other online live feeds, etc, while the Olympics (the Walkie version) is again a world-wide network TV 24-hour a day, weeks-long extravaganza. It’s probably on TV right now. Let me go check………….Yup. It is. Water polo.
Eighteen percent of the U.S. population has some form of disability. That statistic throughout the world is comparable. Everybody knows someone who has some kind of disability that would be represented by athletes in the Paralympic Games. Why is this not on NBC? Do we need a specific TV network just for disability-oriented programming much like African-Americans did with the BET network?
Come on, NBC, it’s 18% of the population! Think of the ratings! Even if just out of curiosity, huge numbers of people would be tuning in to see this. Think of the new ad revenue you would generate from a wide variety of sponsors.
And lastly, you would be providing a service. Network exposure for Paralympic athletes would show the world at large a new side to disability. For one thing, it would demonstrate how many disabilities are not visible, yet very real for the person living with that disability. And it would help able-bodied people become more knowledgeable about a wide array of different types of disabilities. This can only be a win-win situation. The Olympics this year got Paul McCartney to play the opening ceremony. I say we get John Mellencamp to play the 2016 Paralympics on NBC. He’s got spina bifida. See, a disability that is not visible. You’re learning something already.
If you agree, please pass this on.
“Push Girls” debuted last night on Sundance Channel. I thought the show started off good. It’s not your typical study of people in wheelchairs trying to fit into society really. It covers a variety of issues from relationships, and employment that are often struggles for those in chairs. But the chairs become secondary when the series surveys other key issues, such as homosexuality, work stresses, etc. which really drive home the point that these ladies deal with everyday things. There lives are not just “wheelchair, wheelchair, wheelchair, 24/7.
One of the four ladies featured on the show describes how it is talking with clients of her business on the phone, setting up in-person appointments with them, and then the reaction when they see she is in a chair. This is a case-study in and of itself.
Another struggles in her long-term relationship with an able-bodied man who does not think he wants kids, but she knows that she does. I loved how this turned the tables on what one might expect. You know, an able bodied man wanting kids but in a relationship with a woman who may not be able to because of her disability. She is sure of it and wants that experience, and he eventually ends the relationship. But the woman showed herself to be strong in her convictions, ready to end the relationship herself if need be. A poignant moment was her saying (to the camera in a private tell-all moment) that she wasn’t going to be one of those disabled people who stayed in a relationship that wasn’t what she wanted just because she felt like she would never have another chance.
It would be sad for a disabled person to live like that. But I couldn’t help thinking it would also be sad if the perfect person for her happened to be another man in a wheelchair and she just didn’t recognize it.
Another enters a dance competition wherein she is the only contestant who is not standing. It is interesting to see her prepare for this, knowing that all eyes will be on her, knowing that she’s at a distinct disadvantage from the beginning, and knowing that some will see her participation as a novelty. She is not doing it to show off, or stand out. She is doing it because she has always been a dancer, and will always be a dancer, working legs or no working legs. She is not a novelty and she shows it in the competition.
The series speaks volumes about our place in society as disabled people. In every aspect of life, we throw ourselves into it, and participate. My wife and I cannot wait for next week’s episode.
Just dropping by to add a link to the story of Shawn Beam, who recently, as my title strongly suggests, became the only known person in a wheelchair to ever bowl a perfect game. My first reaction was “So what? he’s got arms, hasn’t he?” But then the part of me that is a history major kicked in and realized that this was a “first” and as such, deserved the press coverage.
Check it out:
Just dropping by to note a series on premiering on June 4th on Sundance Channel called “Push Girls”. It is a series which will follow four paraplegic women in the Hollywood area. The series intends to show how these ladies can be ambitious, outspoken, dynamic, and…believe it or not…sexy even! See the link above for more information on the premise of the series.
Joan Rivers was the first female to (guest) host the Tonight Show. She has been very influential in comedy for the last couple of generations. I give her a lot of credit for that. She could have been the female equivalent of George Carlin. But I don’t currently see her as such, when I see her on every “red carpet event” my wife watches. I find her hard to listen to and I don’t particularly find her humor all that thoughtful, as I do Carlin’s.
So why do I respect her at the moment? I just watched a bit of her fashion-themed talk show with my aforementioned wife, and she was critiquing a dress that some celebrity had recently been seen in public wearing which had a wide-open back. Joan Rivers commented that “You don’t have a wide-open back like that unless you have spina bifida!”
I was impressed because, quite simply, hardly anyone I ever talk to seems to have any idea what the symptoms of spina bifida are. Though this comment was not necessarily funny, she did accurately describe my condition, at birth. She proved to me that she’d done her homework while writing her jokes.
So I cannot believe I am saying this, but well played, Joan Rivers. Well played. I salute you. Until the next thing I hear you say. 😉
I have defended Sarah Palin’s actions in the past on this blog, particularly in regard to her putting her developmentally disabled child in the spotlight. But when Palin recently criticized the makers of the FOX animated comedy “The Family Guy” last week, I was a little more than amused at her antics.
The trouble started when “The Family Guy” aired an episode in which the teenage boy in the family, Chris, develops a crush on a girl in his school and asks her out. The girl in question has Down Syndrome. Palin took issue with the depiction.
I can see how Palin, as the parent of a child with a disability can get a little sensative about the issue, but in this episode, sure maybe the fact that the girl was disabled was the joke, but think about it this way: As long as you don’t immediately see this scenario as unrealistic, then its not a joke. And as long as that’s true, then all “The Family Guy” did was make it okay for a “normal” kid to find something beautiful about a girl with a disability. Turns the joke around on itself.
DIGRESSION FROM THE TOPIC: I don’t know if this was a regional thing when I was growing up, but often when a girl was called a “dog” you’d hear her respond with “dogs bark, bark grows on trees, trees are nature, nature is beautiful, thank you for the compliment.” Turning the insult into a compliment. (Takes a little more thought than a simple “I know you are but what am I?”)
Where the hell was I? Oh yeah…
Same principle is at work here. I don’t mean to sound naive or overly idealistic, but I truly believe this. People are going to joke. We with disabilities cannot stop that. Life goes on and we all shine on.
A lot of females with disabilities, in wheelchairs particularly it seems, feel that something of their femininity is taken from them by their physical appearance. This episode made the girl attractive, at least to Chris. And that is all it takes is for one person to find you attractive or worthy of love and affection and you’re on your way to something great.
If you haven’t seen the episode, then SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!! I also liked it that they showed, once again (I know I go off on this a lot) that a person with a disability is not always a saint. This girl just so happens to turn out to be a bit of a meanie.
Oh yeah and as to the fact that the girl in the episode said her mom was the former governor of Alaska, big deal. If that was what Palin was all in a fit ab0ut, well all I can say is politicians get a lot of jokes flung in their directions.
I don’t know. What do you all think?