Friday, August 31, 2012

Culture and fear of disabilities

Paralympics in London go on mostly ignored by the American media and once again it had me wondering why. It's not that the sport element is not breathtaking. Wheelchair basketball for example is spectacular. It's not that the people in it are not true Olympians. Why wouldn't something that is perhaps a little different but still amazing to watch find an audience? It's the fear of disabilities that makes it not your family friendly type of entertainment. It's simple.  Nobody focuses on the hard will, the determination, the hard work that gets these athletes to achieve what they do every day. A disability is a buzz kill. It makes people uncomfortable. They may think a missing limb is not attractive to watch. But most of all, they're afraid. They fear that this may happen to them. And it's not something you want to think about while you're unwinding in front of TV or having drinks at the bar. It's something that I recognize in the looks of people whenever I'm out with friends and I'm having a night out on the town. I've written about it before. It doesn't matter that I was born with my disability. It's all I know and I'm as fine with it as can be. People see me at a bar and they get uncomfortable. The see me and my wheelchair and think: car accident. Or injury resulting from diving. This may happen to them. It could happen to them that night. It's not something you want to think about while you're having drinks. Not in a culture, not in a town that promotes the care-free lifestyle of fun, drinking, dancing and sex. You don't want to think about the darker, somber part of life. And yes, you don't want to think about consequences. This again has nothing to do with me, and everything with the mental process of the other people. Think about it. NBCUniversal/ Comcast broadcasts a number of channels that show every variety of reality programming from how to renovate a house on TV to desperate single women in their 30's. I'm not sure what it says about our society, but they are pretty. I have yet to see a show that focuses on the intellect. That showcases people that are well read, travelled and soft spoken. Recently I caught a glimpse of a new show called "Gallery Girls". Other than it features a bunch of self-involved, catty women I have to say it's not about anything at all. I used to think that the point of these shows was to make fun of them as they appeal to our lowest instincts when feel better while others come apart and humiliate themselves on national TV. But people do idolize them. They become bona fide celebrities. Who cares what they offer? They are pretty. It seems like in our culture that's all we think about. I have no idea why I've heard of Kim Kardashian. I have trouble identifying what she is famous for. I do know what she looks like, I know she makes headlines on HLN and I don't know why. It seems to me, that we are fixated on appearance. On the external. What does it say about our society? Do we all buy into this vision of glamor? Is this what we should aspire to now?  I don't want to preach about the effects of the low end programming on the younger generation because I have no idea and it's not really the point . I also enjoy occasional bubble gum television especially after a stressful week. But I can't believe that families and heads of scheduling alike can't recognize how much you can learn about human spirit if we just focus on something else than hair, make up, fake breasts and six-packs long enough to notice these amazing people who challenge not only others but mostly themselves.

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