Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mocking disability- funny NOT

Society's discomfort with the open presence of disability in community, and especially in positions of power, was obvious this weekend when Saturday Night Live broadcast a skit featuring Governor David Paterson in which the cast mocked his blindness. As this post points out, any politician is fair game for policies, etc., but ridiculing his disability by airing a skit portraying him as wandering around a stage and holding a chart upside down amounted to nothing more than mocking his disability.

This kind of mocking comes from a sense of entitlement, where the person mocking disability feels superior.

Worse than the actual mocking, however, is society's refusal to even look at the dynamics of such cruel jokes. A lack of dialogue on this subject spells out a tacit agreement to sanction blatant disrespect to people with disabilities . It maintains the status quo :the able bodied have a right to make fun of disability and those in a condition of disability. This has been going on since biblical times. There is nothing creative or cool or new about it.

If all some see with their eyes or hear with their ears leads to cheap laughs at the sake of another human being's dignity and feelings, if their hands only move to applaud this kind of mockery, I pity them their so-called abilities. They are failing to see or hear or embrace the full humanity of those with disabilities.


Julana said...

I didn't appreciate reading about Madonna's comment about emotionally "retarded" people at one of her recent concerts, either.

There are a lot of siblings, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and fellow church members that need to start speaking up for those whose voice is not so strong.

FridaWrites said...

You are spot on. I don't see why people always see disabled people as fair game, say they didn't mean anything, and deflect energy back onto the protester. I get fed up with it. It's just unfair and unkind and not funny. I have a big sense of humor and am often making jokes, but not like this.

Wheelie Catholic said...

Julana- very true.

Frida- Gov. Paterson issued a clear statement this evening about the skit and almost immediately it was deflected back on him by some, ignoring his statements about the negative depiction of disability and indicating that it's an honor to be the subject of a skit on SNL - once again refusing to acknowledge the difference between making fun of a politician's policies, etc. and his blindness/disability. Reactions like this show how such mockery is ingrained in our society and how tightly held the right to engage in it is.

william Peace said...

I do not like Patterson and many of the decisions he has made since he was named governor. Yet he is obviously competent and a good speaker. Why SNL chose to mock Patterson for his admitted drug use and affairs is troubling. These issues came to a flash point shortly after he was named governor and were dealt wit at the time. They have not been discussed in months. In short, he has done his job without incident and the media no longer begins every story with "The Blind Governor..." Sadly, this is progress and it is disappointing SNL mocked Patterson for being blind. Such "humor" is easy and caters to antiquated and dated beliefs about blindness in particular and disability in general. Go ahead and mock Patterson but base it on his policies and abilities not baseless bigotry.

FridaWrites said...

I think you're right, WC--people see it as a right. That's it. It's entitlement.

PwD-SD-Awareness said...

It is unfortunate that producers, and writers in hollywood feel in order to get high ratings they must depict peoples disabilities. And people in their homes watch such junk! Even when somebody states how bad it is and others will have to watch to see just how bad too then complain. Unfortunately this action is exactly how hollywood works. You watch even being a negative response and others watch too to see and their ratings goes up. Henceforth we (producers) will continue what we are doing in the name of $$$$$.

One of the reasons I do not watch SNL because their jokes have actually crossed the line. IMHO! Just like another movie that is depicting the blind. Cannot remember that name but then I wouldn't want to promote it. But it's basically how you have discribed SNL with their skit. Totally way off the marker as how people living and dealing with their blindness or any type of disabilities for that matter.

I am a person Living with a Disability but the first word is Person not disabled!! I am a person first and like to be treated that way.