11 December, 2009

A bit more on Glee

Seriously I think this is what Ryan Murphy knows about intellectually disabled people: they're inspirational or something! But they're not good at anything and they live in hospitals waiting for us to come and read to them! But we have to pretend that they're good at things to make them feel better, but then we'll yell at them for being bad at those things, because we don't want to discriminate!

I could write a million essays on how weird the portrayal of characters with Down Syndrome was. For example, the joke about Brittany cheating off Becky's math test. Obviously the joke is, Brittany's so ditzy she thinks people with Down Syndrome are good at math, or else, Brittany's so bad at math that a person with Down Syndrome is better at math than she is. I don't necessarily mind this, because people with Down Syndrome usually aren't good at math; I can imagine a show making fun of disabled people's impairments in a blunt, dark-humor kind of way, that I wouldn't find offensive.* But this particular joke is just so weaselly, you can even pretend that it isn't a joke about Becky's disability if you want. In a previous episode Terri said she didn't want a baby who was a "Mongoloid," and obviously this was supposed to be shocking-funny, but I bet that no character would be shown using that word to describe Becky. And I think that's because the writers of the show aren't willing to face the fact that they are insulting actual people when they use words like Mongoloid.

They want to be seen as shocking and offensive in a daring and funny way but they're not willing to own it. And that's what really annoys the hell out of me about that episode, and the show in general. And also the show's fans who claim that offensive elements of the show are "satire." If it was satire, it would be funny. Mercedes's constant complaints about the music are not supposed to be quotable one-liners, nor are they supposed to be a parody of stereotypical black characters. She's just a badly written character whose creators rely heavily on stereotypes when they write her dialogue.

*I'm not especially fond of the Retarded Policeman videos on YouTube, but at least they're not weaselly; most of the offensive material is performed by an actor with Down Syndrome. The videos make fun of intellectually disabled people, but in the end I think it must positively affect viewers to see an intellectually disabled actor who is talented and funny. When Glee makes fun of deaf people they're not as brutal as the Retarded Policeman videos are about intellectually disabled people--but they imply that deaf people exploit their deafness for personal gain and can only be successful because of others' pity. The makers of the Retarded Policeman videos actually know that intellectually disabled people can be talented, which makes them automatically better than the creators of Glee.

eta: okay this one is kind of good

but I still think How's Your News? is a million times better (actually, it's a million times better than just about anything):

this is my favorite:

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