Saturday, September 24, 2011


We have been watching new tv shows, LORD it was a long summer without new stuff to watch!  One of the reasons I've been happy about having an October baby is that at least I'll have some new entertainment to watch in the night when I am up with the baby.

I don't like Glee anymore but someone else who lives here does, so we watch it.  There was a new character on the first show, talking about how she had Asperger's and that's why she said inappropriate things.  She would say something rude or mean and then classify it, "Asperger's!" or "NOT Asperger's!".  It was annoying because I think people who really have Asperger's and autism don't always get to choose or not choose what they say or what they know is appropriate to say.

Then I was watching Two Broke Girls, it's about two waitresses in Brooklyn.  The new waitress, a rich girl whose Dad is a Bernie Madoff-type, lost all her money so she has to waitress.  Because THAT ALWAYS HAPPENS.  The girl who is already a waitress has been a loser her whole life.  SO as a waitress, I'm already sort of annoyed at the premise, but whatever, it's CBS and everyone knows, CBS sucks.  Anyways.  The new girl is marrying ketchups, so she lines up the bottles.  This is 'funny' because she doesn't know what marrying ketchups is - for those of you non-waitresses out there, it's when you put all the ketchup from one bottle into another and fill them all up.  It's kind of gross, really, I try not to think about it too much.

ANYWAY.  The mean waitress calls the other waitress' doing that her "Temple Grandin routine".  Ha ha ha ho ho isn't that funny?  She's lining things up like she's AUTISTIC?  Get it?  Cause they line things up?  Ho ho hilarious, CBS.

I commented on FB that I had seen two jokes about autism and a friend of mine said that her dad was disabled and if she had a penny for every disabled joke, etc.  I know that her Dad has MS.  I think her Dad has MS, I can't remember but I think so.  Anyways, I don't think that's the same thing.  I mean, of COURSE I don't think we should make fun of ANYONE's problems, but me noticing for Anthony is not the same as her noticing for her Dad.  I told her that I feel because Anthony literally and figuratively doesn't have a voice, I feel l have to take up for him in matters like this.  Also, I said, the shows are on past his bedtime, ha ha, trying to make light of it because actually I'm kind of offended.  I don't really like having the PAIN OLYMPICS and seeing who can win.  I was just trying to drop some knowledge!  She said her Dad doesn't have a voice anymore either so she knows how I feel.  Sigh.  Point missed.

THEN I was watching Kathy Griffin's new special - let me say at this point that I watch a lot of tv.  I also try to read a lot but I have to wear glasses now and I have lie down on my side and I can't lie down on my side and not squoosh my glasses so I've given up on reading until I have this baby.  Anyways, one of the first things Kathy Griffin said was that Kris Humphries, Kim Kardashian's new husband, looks a little 'special needs'.  A little 'special needy', she went on to say.  THEN to clarify that she could say that, she said that she had a dog named Larry who she felt pretty sure was autistic.  She said, pretending to weep, that she was very much in tune with the autistic dog community, or something.  So.  Um.  That's offensive, right?  It's here, it starts at 4:12.

Tracy Jordan, who is on 30 Rock, which I haven't seen yet but only because it's not on until January, got in trouble not long ago for making fun of gay AND retarded people.  Well, not retarded people but their moms.  I don't even know.  Well, not trouble.  It's not like you get arrested or anything, but there was a hubbub.

Here's the thing - none of this is that funny OR that big a deal.  I don't look to CBS or Glee or Kathy Griffin for comfort or guidance.  But I am scared that somehow it's not okay to say 'retarded' anymore, but it is okay to say 'autistic' or 'Asperger's' or 'Temple Grandin-like'.  Which, I mean, Temple Grandin is a freaking GENIUS - people would be LUCKY to be like Temple Grandin!  But they don't mean that when they make fun of her, they mean how because she has autism, she lines things up.  And NOBODY WANTS TO DO THAT, EVEN IF YOU ARE A GENIUS, TOO.

Anyways.  So it scares me that by using these words in making fun of people - by saying they're special needs or autistic or whatever, it will make it seem like they are LESS than PEOPLE.  I listen to Anthony hooting and hollering away sometimes and I wonder what people will think of him.  Will they know that he is doing it so he can stim vocally and get some feedback that he needs?  No.  Why would they?  They will probably think, well.  I can't say what they will think because I'm getting sort of wound up already and I have a cold and don't need to be any stuffier.  But if they hear people making fun of those with special needs, those who have autism, and they think those people are somehow LESS deserving of kindness and understanding and people MINDING THEIR OWN BUSINESS, then they are wrong.

So I guess I'm going to keep saying it when I hear it.  What else can you do?  I know what I'd like to do.  I'd like to just start smacking people right in the mouth when they use words as slurs.  Just walking up and smacking them.  But I can't - my arms are too short to reach Hollywood, plus you can't just go around physically attacking people.  It's against the law or something.  Damn it.


UW Manitowoc BIO 191, Fall 2015 said...

I wish those TV writers could read this, Joanne.

The other thing that strikes me about the autistic/Aspergers "jokes" is that there is an assumption that everyone is the SAME. I have two students with Asperger's (at least, two who have shared that information with me). They could not be more different, in general personality and in terms of how they interact and what kind of environment is most comfortable with them. So hmmm...two people are DIFFERENT?!? Crazy! That never happens! At least, not on TV-land.

Stimey said...

Hear, hear, sister. I saw Glee and 2 Broke Girls, but didn't see the others. It seems to me that Glee is rapidly becoming extremely offensive to pretty much everybody, which is disappointing for a show that used to be so much about tolerance.

I agree with you completely that all of these are horrible and that I am extremely bothered by "autistic" becoming a pejorative. It's so upsetting.

I think about the track of all minority groups as they appear on TV though and it seems as though developmental disabilities are right on schedule. Think of all the offensive characterizations of people of color and gay people before they came out with fully formed, thoughtful characters. I'm hoping that this is an unfortunate stage that will lead to more awareness on the other side. That said, racism and homophobia aren't exactly gone either, so...

It's getting painful to watch TV though.

Salt in Suburbia said...

It's interesting that you wrote this post about the same time a friend of mine wrote another post about ignorant things someone said to her about autism. I was moved by both your posts to write my own. I linked back to this post in mine...I hope that's ok.