[nabs-l] Saturday Night Live skit

Jedi blindjedi at clearwire.net
Tue Dec 16 07:43:01 UTC 2008

Hey all.

It's been interesting reading the back and forth regarding the recent SNL skit.

Personally, I'm glad the National Center staff spoke up.

When I first saw the SNL skit, I had a hard time understanding what
was so frustrating about it. Then, I read a comment made by a sighted
person who saw the skit and said that the fake Paterson was constantly
groping for things, disoriented, shifty in body movements as the
classical stereotype of blindness suggests, and he was squinting an
awful lot. Add these subtle signs to the upside down graph, the
comment made about blind/disabled people being off and therefore
appropriate for government, and the fact that, at the end of the skit,
blindness was clearly named as one reason why Paterson is (but
shouldn't be appropriate for the Senate seat, and you have something
not only frustrating, but downright damning. Can you imagine what
riots would insue if they'd made fun of Paterson's racial make-up?
It's one thing to make fun of a politician for whatever she or he
might have done in the past (which I find rude anyway), but the whole
way blindness was portrayed was a cheap shot and totally unnecessary
to the political commentary about the various shananigans politicians
get up to from time to time (I.E. sex scandals and drug abuse).

I think National's response to "Blindness" can be similarly explained.
The fact that blindness was used as a metaphor for ignorance was the
least of National's issues with the film. It's a tired metaphor in my
opinion; More than that, "Blindness" showed the blind as disgusting
and helpless, and it paired sight with civility and dignity. That's a
lot more problematic than just a stupid metaphor, don't you think?

I think the real issue here is that both cases, the SNL skit and
"Blindness," show hidden attitudes about the blind held by the general
public. Here's what I gather from both presentations (which I have
viewed): the blind are not only unfit for government, but we're
disgusting people who lay waste to everything we touch; we are
incapable of guiding ourselves let alone caring for our personal
needs; we are just a little off along with the rest of the disabled
community. If you think about it, the only thing that makes
"blindness" work as a modern parable and the sNL skit work as comedy
is the fact that folks view some truth in the images portrayed. If the
SNL skit and the "Blindness" film don't get you frustrated, that

I just want to point out one more thing before I go. Blindness has
captured the imagination of the public for a long time, and it's been
used in plays and popular literature (including film and music) since
classical antiquity. Remember Dr. Jernigan's analysis of blindness in
literture? I saw a lot of similarities between these modern depictions
of blindness and those done in the middle ages. And while i'm sure no
direct harm toward blind people was ever meant on the part of the
artistic public, it still frustrates me all the same.


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