[nabs-l] hope this doesn't annoy others--but one question on SNL

Joe Orozco jsorozco at gmail.com
Thu Dec 18 21:37:32 UTC 2008


Carrie,

No, I do not think the only way a competent blind person can be funny is to
make fun of blindness stereotypes.  Yet, I do not think stereotypes are
completely negative taboos that should be avoided at all cost.  Stereotypes
are exaggerated bits of accuracy that, if injected into humor, could be used
as educational tools to change public perceptions.  South Park, for all its
raunchy nonsense, probably does a far better job of teaching morals than any
lecture could ever hope to accomplish.

I'm not sure there was any educational value in this past weekend's Saturday
Night Live, but nor do I think the producers meant it to be educational in
the first place.  In fact, what made it so funny is that it was so stupid.
People do not watch the show to be educated on the accurate, let alone
positive, portrayals of people or groups of people.  The show is comic
relief engineered to make people laugh at the sheer idiocy of the topic.  It
may not have been polite of SNL to poke fun at the blind.  Yet, to exclude
the blind from such sarcasm is to further ostracize the blind population
from the general public.

I believe our disagreement has more to do with outlook than it does with
intent.  Ultimately, as long as we continue to share a common goal of
helping blind people, I consider these types of debates a productive means
of shaking up our views and creating strategies that are more effective than
previous measures.  I said in my last post that if I were to sit down and
write a list of things we could be doing with our influence as the largest
organization, the list would be voluminous, but I think my suggestions would
primarily center around mutual education.  Okay, so the SNL segment was an
attack on the blind.  Now give me examples of how a blind person really
could excel at performing as a highly capable governor.  The Blindness movie
was a twisted depiction of a blind person's ability to survive, so tell me
how a blind person really does carry out chores in his or her daily life.
We cannot rely on statements.  We need campaigns, and if too many media
outlets are portraying the blind in a manner that is not acceptable, maybe
we should be encouraging blind actors to go out there and do their share to
turn the tide.  I know such campaigns are no small task, but I sometimes
fear that our positions are too blind-centric with little flexibility for
sighted collaboration.  We carry out joint projects with corporations to
create new tools and devices, but so much of our progress depends on the
basic social interactions of the variety that will help the general public
see blind people for the productive citizens they are capable of being.

In any case, I think I've belabored the point long enough.  You're very
articulate, and I look forward to a future discussion soon.

Cordially,

Joe Orozco

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."--James M.
Barrie
-----Original Message-----
From: nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of Carrie Gilmer
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 9:45 AM
To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
Subject: [nabs-l] hope this doesn't annoy others--but one question on SNL

Dear Joe,

I thought this best to separate.

At the end.are you saying the only way a competent or skilled or "perfect"
blind person could be funny would be to make fun of the blindness in a
stereotypical way? I would hope that integration would mean they could be
funny in the same way others are funny. I do not know the Govenor's
personality or personal mannerisms or policies well enough to re-write the
skit with humor pertaining to him personally aside from his blindness. I do
believe there is enough more to him to be made fun of than just his
blindness. I would be very happy if now some who never questioned the
stereotypes did turn themselves to serious thought about whether or not
blind people really do behave in such a manner inherently because of their
blindness rather than just blankly accepting that they do behave in such a
manner because of blindness. 

 

I can't speak for the whole national center-I do think they try or
purposefully do their best to speak for us (given we are not monolithic)-in
my case I think they did speak what I agree with and that is I hope for them
to not get a laugh using blanket stereotypes with disrespect (whether or not
they intended to be disrespectful)-just like I would not respect them doing
blanket stereotype jokes that have clearly been harmful in their
perpetuation about any other group. I personally understand the basis of
some stereotypical humor as being much less harmful and sometimes even
funny. I saw the SNL writers on an interview on the Charlie Rose show last
week I think it was. They are all about pushing the envelope-nothing is out
of bounds in their brainstorming sessions. I think it is fair to say to them
when one feels the envelope has been pushed too far. I think out-of-bounds,
or having boundaries, is what keeps us civil and learning to respect our
diversity and laughing with each other in a healthy way rather than laughing
at someone(s) in a put down way.

 

 

 

Carrie Gilmer, President

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

A Division of the National Federation of the Blind

NFB National Center: 410-659-9314

Home Phone: 763-784-8590

carrie.gilmer at gmail.com

www.nfb.org/nopbc

 

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