Respectfully submitted by Connie Kuusisto
Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to Blog [with]tv and to the January 10, 2008 Edition of the Disability Blog Carnival. We thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to join us. There are a lot of great links thanks to our participants, and thanks to those who submitted links on behalf of others. So if you don't have time to read through it all, stop back anytime. Our door is always open!
The theme we chose for this carnival is "Disability in the Media". Some participants have had first hand experience, others are choosing to comment on what they've seen and heard.
Let's get started, shall we?
How many have seen or read this book: Disability and the Media: Prescriptions for Change by Charles A. Riley II? Follow the link to the book and you will find this statement, found in the Book Review section of the listing (on Amazon.com)
Powerful and influential, the media is complicit in this distortion of disability issues that has proven to be a factor in the economic and social repression of one in five Americans.
Howard Renensland has observed that this "topic has been around so long...and remains such a sore spot in our history that many may feel it is purposeless to voice an opinion. That would be a mistake."
Well make no mistake about it, the Disability Blog Community knows it has a voice and a powerful one at that. "Thanks to the internet, the rules of engagement have changed" said Vicki Forman recently. People with disabilities are communicating with each other, and with the "able-bodied" public, faster and in greater numbers than ever before. It's just a matter of time before we see and experience change and as all the politicians keep reminding us, "change" is what we, the "American people" want. Keep reading - you'll find Vicki's Forman's posts and learn how she and others brought about "change" just recently. But still...
Needless to say, it remains the case today that we are more often than not appalled; we are offended, dumbfounded, angry, and yes, we feel "used and abused", as Emma will tell you, when it comes to the things we hear and read in contemporary media. I chose the photo above to represent the anger and frustration we all feel. Photo description: woman, wearing glasses, reading the newspaper. Her mouth is wide-open as if yelling something; she appears to be appalled, offended, dumbfounded, angry - who knows - but it doesn't look good what ever it is.
The "pity stories" are running thick this holiday season. Seems that there is profile of a person that experiences disabilities a few times a week. Robert Bach compared two story approaches: one that he thought "emphasized the disability over the person; the other, the person over the disability." Here is Sometimes Special Isn't, posted at Kintropy In Action.
Kathryn shares with us her experience with an irresponsible media and their outright prejudice against people with disabilties as seen in their reporting and twisted take on how disability funding works. "How it really works they have no clue but that did not stop them from reporting misinformation - sadly enough." No doubt we'll all agree on this one: Channel 5 is Asking the wrong questions about Educational Funding.
On a personal note, I too will make a confession. Between
Thanksgiving and oh, right about now, I have done very little in terms
of participating in the world wide web of blogging. In a nutshell, my
husband and I spent the month of December living out of boxes after our
move interstate move. Yes, I managed to do some basic posting, but in
terms of following real issues and interacting with other bloggers,
I've been out of the loop I'm afraid. So I was stunned to learn of
this Ransom Notes Campaign as reported on AutismVox. Stunned I tell ya. Vicki Forman may speak softly...
but thank goodness she carries that "proverbial baton grand". And she
has friends that do too. Lot's of them it seems. You'll see what I
mean as she discusses the demise of the campaign. Thank goodness "It's over! Vicki summed it up in one of the "three lessons" she learned as an agent of change - "some fights will need to be fought over and over again". Thanks
to Catherine for bringing this to my attention. She also pointed the
PITY. IT'S 100% CURABLE ad to me but I've saved the link for later
under the "give credit where credit is due category." You'll not find
many posts there...
Valerie Brew-Parrish is a another great supporter of this blog (take a look at this post) and I was amazed to open an e-mail from her just as I was pulling the above paragraph together. Talk about timing! Here is the link she just sent me: Advocate helps quash ugly ads. It seems she too carries the "baton grand". Valerie, have you started your own blog yet? Never mind, we love posting your articles here!
Thank you to Penny Richards who steered me to this post: Oprah Revisited, found at Twinkle Little Star. Lisa Ferris wrote a blog post titled "It's Not That I Hate Oprah..." two years ago--and gave an interview about it to a Texas newspaper reporter just recently. Fortunately, Lisa's fears were alleviated when she "came across quite nicely" as one of her readers pointed out. Curious, I followed the link to Lisa's orginal post and found this gem about something Oprah supposedly said:
Maybe it was the time she said that to research her role in "Beloved," she had someone blindfold her and then leave her in a forest so she could better feel what it was like to be a slave; thus insulting both the skills and resourcefulness of every blind person in the world as well as her entire race of fore-bearers in this country that had to suffer slavery.
Oprah, say it ain't so.
And while you're at it, can you please tell us that this ain't so? Oh Oprah, you missed a perfect opportunity to help raise awareness on behalf of people with disabilities.
Frogger hosts a blog he calls Abled and there he has written a series of posts centered around the theme So Courageous! Disability in the Media. In response to this particular post one of frogger's readers commented, pointed to a particular link and then, opening a can of worms, asked this question:
"seeing stories from the perspective of the disabled can be enlightening, but I wonder if 'these folks' could ever hold a major news corp position?"
Frogger would, I'm sure, be interested in follow-up comments on that one. And speaking of follow-up, here is his latest post regarding disability in the media.
Simi Linton, author of My Body Politic hosts a blog called Disability Culture Watch. "One of our jobs at Disability Culture Watch is to critique the critics." Here you'll find a review in the New York Times of an off-Broadway play, followed by a disability focused critique by Lawrence Carter-Long.
Thank goodness for Flickr and YouTube and all those new media outlets out there. Otherwise how would the "large community of amputee fetishists (called devotees)" so conveniently feed their frenzy? Check out this very 2008 new-media quandary--photos of Jana's feet on Flickr get more hits than photos of her face.
And if it weren't for YouTube, Kay, at The Gimp Parade, could not have so easily shared this Nike ad with her readers. Kay, in my opinion, is one the Disability Blogs' most powerful voices. I learn so much from her.... Shelob was among the many who commented and debated on this ad. She said "I'm not sure what type of commercial which includes people with disabilities would actually please me, but I am sure that this isn't it."
Are you aware that Ruth has another blog called A Different Light? There she's posted an article: Things reporters say - and write - about disability.
What's the difference between a scooter and a wheelchair you ask? Well it seems the press wants us to know It's Not Really a Scooter, at least not in Tim Johnson's case.
Supposedly there is, or there was, a "Comedy Central" animated tv program called "Freak Show". Anyone happen to catch it? Steve Kuusisto calls it a Comedy of Errors, not that he's seen it. But he's got a reliable source who told him more than he needs to know...
How often have we all seen versions of this in the media?
"Fighting the symptoms of her disability (replace with list of awful things), the courageous young woman bravely faces a life confined to her wheelchair, but friends and family are making a difference: "she's just so inspiring," says her neighbor."
"OK, so I made that up. But I bet it felt as familiar to you as it felt to me." wrote Wheelchair Dancer. In her post Getting Up in the Morning, she actually admits to being courageous, but not for reasons the general public might think.
Heather, of Knitting Clio, dislikes "spin" and boy is there ever a lot of it in the media when it comes to celebrity culture. She brings up an important point regarding Celebrities and Psychology. Speaking of celebrities in the media, I won't even go there, except to say, this is where I won't go.
Let's see...what other posts regarding disability in the media have been brought to my attention? Oh yes...
Dr. Phil blew a chance to make an accurate presentation about autism... Ransom Notes Campaign is over (but negative media and representations are relentless as I accidentally catch Dr. Phil) posted at The Joy of Autism.
Marie Hardin, an associate professor of journalism, teaches a class at Penn State University titled Sports, Media & Society. She hosts a blog of the same name. In her recent post Disability and sports: defining 'normal' she introduces us to Susan LoTempio, a journalist who covers disability issues. Susan's article, Level the Playing Field for Coverage of Disabilities, discusses how
"(Kevin) Everett's story exemplified the distinction between how people view athletes and the disabled. And how the news media pick up on that."
In a comment on one of his posts, William Peace of Bad Cripple sums up his opinion regarding disability in the media, prompted by a couple of recent episodes of the TV medical drama "ER":
If I have learned one thing in the last 30 years it is that disability is a social problem first and foremost. Why this point continues to elude the press, Hollywood, and mainstream media outlets never ceases to amaze me. The sad part about ER is that in the past it handled disability rights issues with some skill. Regardless, rejection of the medical model of disability and more generally the medicalization of disability looks like a long term battle.
Cheryl is relatively new to the blogosphere and I believe this is her first contribution to the Disability Blog Carnival. Welcome Cheryl! She's jumped right in with her post regarding Inconsistencies in the Media, focusing on several articles from her college newspaper.
We like it when the press gets it right...so let's give credit where credit is due.
David, who is Growing Up With a Disability makes that point in his post: "...not this separate category of human beings" "This is a real story with important ramifications, things to contemplate and learn, and also with actions to be taken."
Meet the Empowered Fe-Fes thanks to Christine C. Christine did her readers a favor by offering a link to an interview with these young ladies, as well as to the documentary titled "Doin' It: Sex, Disability and Videotape", a collaboration between the Empowered FeFes and Beyond Media. Why it seems "people with disabilities have sexual needs and desires" and the Fe-Fes are willing to expose themselves...err, I mean expose their feelings on the subject. More power to you young ladies!
Here is a striking photo and story about bodies and stigma and reclaiming more empowering images...and how one person really can make a difference. Amazon Elder-Breast Cancer Survivor-Mastectomy Photo posted at Body Impolitic.
In closing, here is a little poetry, inspired by recent media coverage of the lives of real people, by "Book Girl" of Falling Off My Pedestal...
Yep. I'd say it's time for change.