Saturday, February 20, 2010
A few days ago, I wrote about Sarah Palin's (as well as her daughter Bristol's) objection to an episode of "The Family Guy," in which a character with Down syndrome appeared. The Palins felt that the writers were ridiculing people with Down's, including their son/brother, Trig. They called out the show and its writers on Palin's Facebook page, and although Seth McFarlane has remained silent on the matter, a statement was issued by the actress who voiced the character with Down's on the show.
My name is Andrea Fay Friedman. I was born with Down syndrome. I played the role of Ellen on the "Extra Large Medium" episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine's day. Although they gave me red hair on the show, I am really a blonde. I also wore a red wig for my role in " Smudge" but I was a blonde in "Life Goes On". I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line "I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska" was very funny. I think the word is "sarcasm".
In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.
There was more from an interview with Ms. Friedman:
Q. When did you find out about the reaction that the episode elicited from Sarah Palin and her family?
A. [laughs] That I did not even know about until my mom told me, “You’re on Channel 4!” And when I watched on Channel 4, on “Extra,” and I saw Sarah Palin with her son Trig. I’m like, “I’m not Trig. This is my life.” I was making fun of Sarah Palin, but not her son.
Q. Do you agree with what she and her daughter Bristol were saying, that the character and the jokes were insulting to people with Down syndrome?
A. It’s not really an insult. I was doing my role, I’m an actor. I’m entitled to say something. It was really funny. I was laughing at it. I had a nice time doing voiceover. It was my first time doing a voiceover, and I had fun.
Did you see that part about how the actress actually has Down syndrome? That's kind of pertinent here.
You see, Ms. Friedman is out there making a living as an actress. She and her family have not let her Down's syndrome keep her from leading a productive and happy life. She also apparently has quite a sense of humor (I love the line about the loaf of French bread), and flat-out says that she was making fun of Palin herself, not her son with Down's. I'm thinking Palin could learn a lesson from this young lady.
This really is the ultimate smackdown, because if Palin stuck with her usual modus operandi of flogging a dead horse, she'd fire back another retort and not let the issue die the quick death it deserves (think of her continued argument with David Letterman after he apologized for his remarks concerning her daughter--which were about the one that really was knocked up, not the younger one). However, if she does that, she'll be arguing with a person with Down's...a person who is standing up for herself and the comedy show on which she appeared, and is doing quite well for herself. Palin's outrage at the perceived disrespect shown to those with Down's is null and void after a person with Down's herself said that she (Palin) has no sense of humor, doesn't get sarcasm, and uses her own son as a prop for sympathy and political gain.
Friedman may have Down's, but her remarks are nothing short of brilliant in their sheer shut-the-fuck-upness. A toast to you, Ms. Friedman!
I'll be curious to see if Palin is able to let this one go. She's certainly not known for letting go of grudges, as McCain's campaign staff can attest to. There have been no further statements about the "issue" on her Facebook page. She did make an appearance on O'Reilly's show (I don't know if it happened before or after Friedman's statement), in which they engaged in an orgy of mutual masturbation, O'Reilly feeding her paranoia and showing that he shares the missing sense of humor gene by saying that the episode was "pretty nasty" and calling Seth McFarlane a "hater." Palin showed disdain for "Fox Hollywood," I guess because they fall into that category of coastal elitists (East coast, West coast, it doesn't matter...none of them are "real Americans," anyway).
I'm sure that in the near future, Sarah will find other things about which to generate some self-righteous and self-promoting outrage, but maybe this time Palin’s inner censor will make a rare appearance and it will
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
No lie. In her latest manufactured outrage incident, she takes on not David Letterman, not Rahm Emanuel, not even what she so cleverly calls the "lamestream media." This time she takes on the show "The Family Guy." You know...the animated series? The one without real people?
If you haven't heard about it, in the episode in question, there is a character with Down syndrome. Palin took offense at this, saying that it was making fun of her son, and was apparently so upset (it was a "kick in the gut," she said) that she couldn't think straight (*snort* Like that's new.) and had her daughter Bristol write something about it.
Insults directed at [my] youngest brother hurt too much for us to remain silent. People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you'll ever meet. As a culture shouldn't we be willing to say that some things just are not funny? If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed.
In the interest of thorough research, I found the episode online and watched it. Extra Large Medium was the title, if you'd care to check it out yourself. I know that some of these animated shows can be pretty extreme (I love "South Park"), but I have never watched "The Family Guy," although my friend Darren has said it is hilarious. For whatever reason, I just never got into watching it. I was curious to watch this episode, to see if Darren was right, and to see if Palin was justified in being offended. In my opinion, chalk one up for Darren and give Palin a big fat zero.
It was hilarious, and I laughed out loud at several points. As far as insulting people with Down syndrome, I didn't see that at all. In fact, it was more flattering, in that the teenage son has a crush on a girl at school, thinks she's beautiful and hot and wonderful, and gets up the courage to ask her out. And, oh yeah, she has Down syndrome. When they go on a date, he asks what her parents do, and she says her Dad is an accountant and her Mom is "the former governor of Alaska." (That's one of the parts at which I laughed out loud.) A-ha! Now I get it. Palin wasn't insulted so much because they were ridiculing her special needs son; she was insulted because they were ridiculing her. Hey Palin, remember that satire thingy that you thought was so funny and appropriate when you mistakenly thought Rush Limbaugh used it? [laughing]
As the episode goes on, the Down syndrome girl turns out to be a royal bitch, the teenage son is disappointed, and makes what I think is a very pertinent point. He tells her that he thought people like her were supposed to be special, but they aren't...they're just like the rest of us. In other words, they can be assholes, too.
I've maintained that for years. Being physically handicapped, intellectually disabled, a war veteran, terminally ill, or what have you, does not necessarily impart sainthood upon you. I've encountered some real jerks along the way who have had to deal with some of those things. To accept that they can be bitter, angry, moody—to accept that they can be assholes, too—seems to me to be more accepting of them as a part of the community, to not set them apart as something other than potential assholes, just like us. haha
I hesitate to try to see a broader meaning in everything I watch—sometimes it's just funny—but I thought this episode had a nice, subtle message. I saw no ridicule towards those with Down syndrome whatsoever in what they aired, only a dig at Palin herself. If she continues to be insulted by such things (and it was only one line in the entire episode), she's going to have a miserable life being in the public eye. Comedy, satire, cartoons...it's a part of life, and if you put yourself out there, you're going to be a target. Arguing with a cartoon just makes you look even more ridiculous.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
You've all been warned.
As I was reading various news items, and reading those that some of my Facebook friends posted, I was thinking about how I have gravitated towards like-minded individuals and how my political philosophy has changed over the years. I also have friends, as well as family, whose leanings are diametrically opposed to mine, and that's a good thing. Keeps me on my toes. Although I tend to be drawn to those who share my opinions (who isn't?), I do appreciate those people who are able to enjoy my writing without agreeing with the things I say. I can think of one person in particular who I had to stop reading (and then defriend on Facebook) because the writing just wasn't enjoyable anymore. Endless conspiracy theories, multiple Glenn Beck videos, and calling anyone who didn't believe the way they did deluded and stupid. I'll be the first to admit that I can be a mouthy little thing, and I'm sure I've called the sanity and/or intelligence of certain people into question here (not to mention any names, Sarah Palin), but I try not to be too shrill about it. I guess that was what finally made me stop reading the person I mentioned...it just got so damned shrill.
But I digress. I was thinking about being drawn to like-minded people, and since I'm friends on Facebook with a few people from high school, it made me think about getting from there to here. I'm not close to people from high school, and although my 30th reunion is coming up this year, I have no desire to go (I haven't been to one yet). There are a handful of people that I know I would enjoy seeing, and those are people that I know have the same feelings as I do about things. There are others that I suspect haven't strayed far from our small town, conservative, religious upbringing. I was friends for a while with a guy from high school, and noticed that his profile said "Republican." He apparently didn't care much for the things I posted, because he defriended me eventually. I wasn't hurt by this...I always thought he was kind of an asshole, which he proved by posting a shirtless picture of himself--I KNOW! Ewww!--and I actually found it funny.
I don't interact much with any of them on Facebook, and I don't know if they read this blog. The one person that I do often hear from and get comments from is even farther to the left than I am, and has friended a few of my friends! He wrote to me a while back and said that he was happy to see that someone felt similar to the way he does about things. It made me wonder about how and why we think the way we do, how and why we took the path that we did, when so many stuck with the familiar, the usual, the ingrained.
I'm sure that most of you know that Indiana is a very conservative state, in pretty much every way. It's different in the larger cities and the college towns, and for some reason, my own city and county leans to the left. But overall, it was a very typical Midwestern upbringing, religious and conservative. Early on, I had a liberal bent (much to my Dad's chagrin), and although I went through a more conservative period a while back, my liberal side came roaring back with a vengeance. I wonder why it is, despite being raised in a very conservative household and among conservative relatives, in a conservative state, that I went left when so many of my classmates went right?
Was it a matter of going off to college and being exposed to new ideas there? (Although even in high school, I was feeling leftist yearnings. haha) Was it moving away after college and being in a new environment, or after that, living in Indianapolis and encountering even more diversity? Was it being more curious than the average bear, being an avid reader, loving to visit different cities, being a fan of punk rock, being contrary...? What? Was it having a Dad who, although conservative and religious, spent his youth in the Army during WWII and was apparently a bit of a wild child himself? One of my favorite phrases in college (and I suppose it still is) was "Question Authority." I'm not some kind of violent protester or behind-the-scenes subversive, but I'm definitely the type who doesn't like being told that I have to do something, and when I hear that, I ask, "Why?" I want an explanation, and being told “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” just doesn’t cut it for me.
I really am puzzled by this. I haven't figured it out yet, either. For all intents and purposes, I should be far to the right of where I am, and should even be a very different person from who I am. I'm happy with who I am...but I really do wonder how I got here.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Senator Bayh has been a fixture in Indiana politics for many years, serving two terms as Governor, followed by two terms as Senator. He is seen as a moderate Democrat, fiscally conservative but socially liberal, and considered one of the "blue dog" Democrats in the Senate. A very liberal Democrat would have little chance in such a conservative state as Indiana, but he has always been well-liked and has served Indiana and the United States well. Some of my Democrat friends feel that he should have been more liberal; I feel that his presence as a Democrat was important, and on major issues like health care, he came through for helping all people, not just the well-off. He is also apparently a pretty good guy, and I've never heard a word about any improprieties or scandals.
So why is he not running again?
After all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned. For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress — too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples' business is not being done.
Examples of this are legion, but two recent ones will suffice.
Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted “no” for short-term political reasons.
Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs — the public's top priority — fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right.
All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state, and our nation than continued service in Congress.
That's right. He's sick of the partisan politics in Congress. So sick of it that he wants out.
My feelings were a strange combination of disappointment that we're losing a good person in our government; disappointment in him that he didn't stay to fight for us all; and a complete understanding of why he is so frustrated and disgusted with what he is seeing lately. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty frustrated and disgusted, too. Bayh raises a great point, especially with the question of the debt commission (he has long been a proponent of being careful with our budget and cautioned against overspending): Republicans who previously endorsed such a commission actually voted against it. Yes, they voted against a commission that would address our national debt.
I'm sick of it, too, Evan.
For anyone who thinks that he dropped out of the Senate race because his seat was threatened, think again. He had double-digit leads against all comers, and he really is a fixture in Indiana politics. I think that he would have won re-election. I really believe that he has just had it with what he's seeing lately (and mentions that it is coming from both the left and the right) and can't stomach it anymore. I really do understand, because sometimes I find myself saying, "I swear, I'm moving to Canada!"
I have two questions. First, I want to know when our legislators are going to take notice and realize that we aren't voting them into office just to play these ridiculous games, to automatically gainsay whatever the opposition party wants to do; we vote them into office to actually do shit and work towards the betterment of our country and all of its citizens. This gridlock benefits no one, and it is seriously fucking up my country. Yes, you may be my legislator, but it is also my country.
Second question: Is there something fundamentally wrong with our legislative system that this can happen? That recent fuckaroo with Richard Shelby from Alabama blocking all of Obama's nominees until he got billions in federal aid for his state...that is absolutely ridiculous, and I'm glad that our President said basically to cut the bullshit, or he's going to bypass all y'all and make recess appointments. Shelby backed off. Washington seems to have become all about stopping the other side from getting things done, rather than enacting legislation that will help our country move forward and address a myriad of issues we are facing. This shortsightedness is becoming increasingly frustrating; I'm able to look to the future and see what might be, able to plan ahead, able to see what problems there might be and try to plan accordingly. Why can't our legislators do that?
I'm sad that the system has disillusioned a decent guy like Evan Bayh so much that he is getting out. But I do understand. I'm starting to think that getting out isn't such a bad idea, too.