25 February, 2010

This woman is a delight; and, On Speaking Badly.

Andrea Fay Friedman, the woman in this video, portrayed a character on Family Guy who has Down Syndrome and, when asked what her parents do, says, "My mother is the former governor of Alaska." Palin had a shitfit of course, and then Friedman did some interviews saying that she thinks it's funny and Palin should get a sense of humor. In this video she becomes visibly upset about the fact that Palin is using Trig's disability to get attention. Friedman emphasizes that her parents gave her a normal childhood and that's what Trig should be able to have too.

(Transcript by Tlonista here at FWD/Forward.)

Some person commented and said that Friedman obviously didn't understand the situation because she said Palin was trying to use Trig to get "votes." Argh, why does it matter whether she used exactly the right word for what she was trying to say?

I remember that I used to have this reaction to videos of intellectually disabled people talking with other people, where if they didn't talk that much, or spoke in a cliched or prepared-sounding way, I would think that maybe they weren't expressing their own opinions. Specifically, I'm talking about videos where the star of "Retarded Policeman" would appear with a non-disabled friend or family member, and express that he was okay with being in the show, and that people shouldn't get offended on his behalf. (There was also a video saying that he was okay with the word "retard" in Tropic Thunder.) This is the first video, where he appears with his sister:

Ponce: Hello, world. Josh "The Ponceman" Perry here, with my sister Stacey.
Stacey: Hi, guys. We've been reading a lot of your comments and wanted to clear a few things up about Josh. Josh is an actor.
Ponce: And I am hilarious!
Stacey: He is hilarious. And he loves acting.
Ponce: And I want to do this for a living.
Stacey: So just sit back...
Ponce: And enjoy it.
Stacey: And to all you people who have a problem with Josh acting, or even if you find it offensive in any way...
Ponce: I just want to say, I have Down Syndrome, but you people are fucking retarded.
Stacey: As the Retarded Policeman would say...
Ponce and Stacey: (in Retarded Policeman voice) Bye!

Ponce and his brother Scott (who writes and acts in short films with Ponce, and also wrote some of the Retarded Policeman videos) ended up refusing to make any more Retarded Policeman videos because they said that Ponce wasn't being paid enough given how successful the videos were, and made a video about that.

Josh: Hey people.
Scott: Hey guys. The reason Ponce and I are doing this video is because, over the past year, we've had a ton of our friends and fans ask us why we're not doing Retarded Policeman anymore, and why there's no new episodes.
Josh: I love the show and I liked doing it.
Scott: Yeah, in all sincerity, we absolutely loved doing Retarded Policeman. It's one of our favorite things. However, the simple answer as to why we're not doing it anymore is that we had an agreement with Mediocre Films that has not been honored. That's really all I want to say about it. Um, we, um, we put a blog up about that if you guys want to check that out, it's http://theperryboys.wordpress.com, we'll put the link here, and put the link in the side there. But believe me when I say that we have tried everything that we could for this past year--basically, all year, trying to work something out and make things okay so that we could continue, but we've sadly reached an impasse--like, we know we're not gonna work things out. Uh...that's it--anything else?
Josh: I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, I loved doing Retarded Policeman, and I love all your comments, and I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, it breaks my heart.
Scott: Okay. Just leave us comments, you know--we love your comments here, we love your comments there. That's it, we're gonna move on, we're gonna do bigger better things, we're gonna keep doing what we do, and that's it, right? Out and out.
Josh: (in Retarded Policeman voice) Bye!
Scott: (snickers) Nice.

When I first watched these videos I felt uncertain. If Ponce was really expressing himself, then why did the things he say either sound scripted, or sort of unfocused; and why did he generally not take the lead in expressing points? Then I realized how dumb my reaction was. If I was making a video like this, I would want someone else to express the big points. I'm not such a good talker myself, and it sucks when people think that (because I say "like" a lot or lose my train of thought or have to prepare what I'm going to say) I'm not sincere. Sometimes I even start thinking that I don't know what I'm talking about, just because I can't produce an immediate response when someone says something. So I couldn't believe that I would judge whether someone else was expressing their own thoughts, just based on whether they talked "well."

Andrea Fay Friedman is obviously emotionally affected by the idea that Trig isn't being allowed to have a normal life. As a person whose parents were told to put her in an institution when she was born, Friedman doubtless has a clear idea of the prejudice that people with Down Syndrome face, and the pity and admiration points a person can rack up just for having a kid with Down Syndrome. So why the fuck isn't Friedman allowed to say that she thinks Palin is exploiting that, and that Trig deserves to have parents as good as Friedman's? Who cares if she uses the word "votes?"

(In the event that Ponce/Josh Perry is one of those people who Googles himself all the time, and finds this: Dear Ponce, I hope that you don't think I'm insulting or criticizing the way you talk. Just trying to explain how stupid it is to judge people by the way they talk. I really like the videos you and Scott do, especially the Paranormal Activity one.)

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