It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Monday, April 13, 2009

EMHE: Sends a Bad Message about Crips?

I was hoping not to blog this week after my blogging frenzy last week, and spend less time in the library, but alas, I clicked on Beth Haller's facebook profile and was lead to an article in New Mobility Magazine in which she is quoted.

Reality shows seem to have picked up on that theme more than other TV fare, but not always in the most beneficial light, the best example being Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the popular, do-good series that draws 10-12 million eyeballs a week. In Haller's words, it "embodies a 'tragedy/charity model' in which people with disabilities become objects of pity." Raynor says the whole disabled community comes off looking like "a community of need" in this show ... It might make America feel good about being vicariously charitable, but it plays to the worst stereotype of the helpless crip. Of course everyone on this show is forlorn and needy — that's the whole reason they're on.

This is going to be a short post. I watch EMHE on occasion. Sometimes I pick up neat accessibility tips, such as some great removable suctioning grab bars, or over and over again how to create a gradual slope up to a front door so that it doesn't look as though it was ramped for a gimp in a chair. Those wooden ramps built over existing stairs aren't exactly pretty. Sometimes I don't, but there are often crips on the show.

Take just last night for instance, about a family who adopted 5 disabled Chinese orphans. I agree with Haller that the show does tend to portray a tiny tim/supercrip mentality when they have crips on the show. Look at all the challenges so-and-so has, look how hard their life is, but look how hard they work to overcome! They're so courageous! It makes for good TV, higher ratings, the show is more compelling. BUT, I also believe the show brings more awareness, does more good than bad. The show levels the playing field, by taking away barriers that hinder people's independence, such as making last nights familiy's house easier to navigate by the daughter who is blind and providing a full scale model of the house to aid her in being able to understand the new layout. It shows America that while someone may always be disabled, it is not really their disability that bars people from being full productive citizens, but rather architectural and attitudinal barriers that handicap people from being fully included in society. Put bar codes on all the food in the kitchen and have a scanner with voice output and a blind teen can cook just like anybody else. That resonates with me more then the pity, and I hope that's the message ABs get as well.

But that's just my opinion. What do you think. Please comment. I'd like to hear. If you're reading from outside the US and want to view last night's episode, just go to and click on full episodes near the top left of the screen in red. Once the viewer is up you can click on settings and view CC, but just so you know, that does not work with the full screen view. To read about many more examples of crips on TV then I ever realized, read the New Mobility article. Haller, btw is from media dis&dat.


BA Haller said...

I do agree that EMHE does give good info about home accessibility, but I worry that people (especially children with disabilities) have to be on TV (when they may not want to be) just to get an accessible home. And now there is the added problem of families not being able afford their renovated home. The renovations sometimes make the homes worth much more $$, so the taxes go way up. :-(

Cheryl said...

Not just the taxes, I heard especially in the beginning people were losing their homes because they couldn't pay the utilities in such a big home, although from what I hear they're more energy conscious when building now though. You know, after reading your comment I wonder why Ty and crew aren't lobying congress to get accessible building standards changed for new single family homes. Do they fear they'll be out of a job?

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