Thursday, April 17, 2014

Human condition?

I just watched a commercial on TV. It was an "uplifting" commercial. The commercial is of a child, with a cleft pallet, for the most part told first person. You see his family looking at him odd, not wanting to look at him, looking depressed. Mom has a look on her face like it was her fault. You see his classmates whispering behind his back. Then, they show him going into surgery, and in a mirror, you see his lips skewed, teeth sticking out at random angles. He wakes up from surgery, and then everyone, his family, friends, all, are smiling, everyone happy. You see his face, and it has been surgically corrected. All smiles at the end. I know kids and humans can be cruel. If you look different, there is a problem, but you can fix it, and be a part of normal society again. They treat those who are different as wrong, freakish. And this is my point. The answer to this child's problem is to have to fix his face to conform to society. I know there are good medical reasons to have this surgery. But the jist of the commercial isn't about those. It's about non-tolerance, and you should fix your freakish face. The problem is the kid, not societies idea that the kid is a freak, and fix that shit. It reinforces the idea that because this kid looks different, it's not societies problem, and they can look at him as weird, and treat him like that, until the kid has surgery to look "normal". The kid himself is the problem . And this is wrong. Yes, I'm happy the kid got "fixed", so he can eat normal, not have the medical problems that are associated with having a cleft pallet. But he was born that way. He didn't have a choice. So to make a commercial that shames him into surgery reinforces the idea that it's OK to make fun of him, or the mother to take it personal like it was her fault. Don't worry, the kid can be fixed and be normal. Only then can we treat him like one of us. Instead of supporting the child, being nice to him, treating him like normal. I'm sure the people who made the commercial would say they did the opposite, that they were showing the cruel world as it is, and there is no other option than to "fix" the kid. Yes, the world is cruel. And I think this commercial reinforces that. I say, make a commercial that shows the mean people, but also to show the family supporting the child, friends supporting the child, then go into the medical reasons why this surgery should happen. Preach tolerance for those who are born different, who had no control over the "deformities" they were born with. Don't reinforce that you have to fix yourself to "fit in" and "be normal". It's not your fault. Place the onus on society to understand, educate themselves, to learn what exactly is going on. Kids making fun of him will happen. It's up to us as adults to help educate the kids, and to be tolerant and accepting ourselves. Some people are different. They shouldn't be treated that way. Accommodations may have to be made. It's our job as a society to make that happen. Many older cultures, the Mayan of one (which I learned while in Mexico), treated people who were born with "birth defects" were treated as touched by the Gods, and revered. Our society does the opposite. Let's stop that. Just sayin.

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