Monday, April 11, 2011
Purple Feather: Offensive in the Extreme
I am stunned by the embedded video produced by Purple Feather, a UK based company. Stunned. Shocked. Offended. Take your pick all would describe my reaction. I rarely post anything about disability rights outside of the United States. I stick with matters as they pertain to the United States because disability is perceived differently in other countries. Sure I am familiar with issues abroad, especially as they relate to Canada and the U.K., but I prefer to keep a focus on this country. We clearly have enough problems of our own. Yet I do from time to time comment about issues abroad. When I do so it is because i have a very strong reaction to a gross injustice that has taken place. The embedded video fits into this category.
I know nothing about the company Purple Feather, an online content specialist. This company writes online and offline content for websites, magazines, books, newsletters, marketing campaigns etc. I suppose they are good at what they do. Portraying people with a disability in a negative way is something i have railed against in the past. It is nothing new. This video however sets an all time new low. While I rail against ads that portray people who use a wheelchair as dependent, this video takes it even further. No pretense is made about the fact a blind man is begging. Ho hum, an every day event I suppose. Shockingly, from an international perspective it is common--the most common world wide "job" for a person with a disability according the the UN is begging. This man is dehumanized in the extreme. The poor bastard cannot not even write a sign worthy of a beggar. This is left to an able bodied woman. You know those all powerful people that can walk, hear, and see. No thought, none, is given to why people with a disability may be forced onto the street to beg. No thought is given to how a blind person can do the ordinary--you know like enjoy a beautiful sunny day. If you are blind you could not appreciate such a day. If you are blind you are reduced to begging on the street. If you are blind you are helpless, dependent upon others. Enter soaring music and pulling at the heart strings of people that know nothing about disability. Judging by the comments posted on You Tube the vast majority of people that saw the video loved it. Yes, it was "moving", "inspirational", "touching" etc.And how many people saw this so called "moving" video. Almost one million! Of those that took the time to press "like" they numbered a staggering 6,621. People such as myself that pressed "dislike" numbered a meager 67. Now I try to ignore comments such as like versus dislike but this made my blood pressure soar! Worse yet, I think it represents the depth of knowledge people have about disability. Here I would put that knowledge close to nil. I do not think people are stupid but rather uneducated. We simply choose not to teach people about disability. We choose not to think disability rights and civil rights are comparable. We choose not to include memoirs written by people with a disability in secondary school curriculums. We do not have disability studies department at every major university. We choose to ignore the ADA whenever possible in the USA. We choose not to employ people with a disability. We choose to provide sub standard education for people with a disability. It is no wonder we rarely see those pesky people with a disability out in public. When we do see them what do we expect to see? According to this film, on the street begging with a shitty sign. But despair not! A good hearted woman will edit that sign and her fellow exemplars of civilization will drop a few coins in the man's tin jar. Is this 1911 or 2011?
Okay, it is obvious I am mad--very mad. And to borrow the classic film line "I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more!" Here is what I want readers to do. Send Purple Feather a very angry email. Go to You Tube and mark this film as offensive content. I for one am offended. This is what I did and I swear if this was a US based company I would call up the CEO and complain vociferously.