Take that, Clark Critics! Maybe The Boomers Are Reacting.

Perhaps Dick Clark unleashed a floodgate. His appearance New Year's Eve started the tongues wagging and they haven't stopped. On Ragged Edge Online's MediaCircusBlog, blogger Lawrence Carter-Long takes a long hard look at the varieties of the prejudice that spilled forth from our nation's media celebs and pundits at seeing stroke survivor Clark looking "old" and -- gasp! -- slurring words.

But something interesting happened. People noticed the media folks dissing Clark -- and a lot of folks didn't like it. Not just us rabble-rousing crip activists who are always yelling about this stuff. Regular folks, evidently.

Maybe it's happening. Maybe the stuff Frank Bowe speculated would happen (read his Disability Meets The Boom article) is starting to happen.

UPI Health Correspondent Alex Cukan wrote an unusually hard-hitting column this week:

The fact that Clark recovered from a stroke, can communicate and go on network television should have been acclaimed as a stunning achievement -- because that's what it was. Being able to communicate was a big deal and Clark, knowing he wasn't perfect, was courageous to make the effort when he could have sat home eating popcorn....

"His stroke -- which cost him his timing, as well as his impeccable television elocution -- seemed especially sad," said the New York Times.

That's what it comes down to -- the disabled make some feel sad and uncomfortable. I suggest we get over it and start treating people, no matter how imperfect, with dignity and respect -- because 70 million baby boomers are only going to get older.

"It's ironic that some criticize Clark for slurred speech on a night that has been traditionally associated with an overindulgence of alcohol," she continued.

In 1976 I covered the campaign of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who spoke at a rally and was clearly drunk, and yet there was no murmuring in the crowd or no whispering that he might have had a few too many. Everyone in the crowd and the media seemed to ignore that he could hardly stand or walk without assistance. They treated him like the senator he became; in fact, no one seemed uncomfortable.

Isn't it interesting that people can ignore slurred speech and unsteady movement -- if they want to?

Unusually hard-hitting.

Maybe her tone was due to, as she said, her recent two columns on "Clay Aiken and his efforts to help remove the stigma of disabilities," as she put it (here and here).

Cukan's recent columns have been headlined "Caregiving." Go figure. Google News tells me Cukan's Dick Clark column appeared in at least 300 different places, including major newspapers.

Maybe baby boomers -- those folks who brought us all the Sixties activism -- are actually going to notice when they start being dissed. Maybe they are. Lookee here:

"Super Bowl Wants Only Young Dancers," read the headline in the Associated Press story I ran across yesterday. (Here it is with another headline in the Chicago Sun-Times.)

Mick Jagger and his bandmates may be nearing senior citizenship, but Super Bowl planners only want people 45 and younger to take the field during the Rolling Stones' halftime show....

The NFL says the reason for the age cutoff is that the job is physically challenging. Volunteers must enter and exit the field quickly and be on their feet for long periods. They will not have seats and will wait in a tunnel under Ford Field for most of the first half.

Sounds like age discrimination, for sure, putting that age limit in there like that -- and maybe it will turn out to be disability discrimination as well. The two will start overlapping more and more, I think.

Wonder if we'll be hearing more about this one?

January 05, 2006 | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

Rather than "hearing more about this" perhaps we should hope for having it more in "action evidence" than "discussion/analysis".

Your discovery that there are joined voices in support of DRM's aims who not only "get it" but take activist positions. The phrase "get over it" is almost exactly what we seek and it also doesn't do to assert that Clark himself doesn't "get it" and did what he did from ego rather than advocacy.

When we deliberately corrupted an entire generation (and not just in Berkeley, but also at campuses and other institutions all over the world) we created a time bomb of human rights proponents who, although mostly now hiding behind suits/ties, are enabling/enhancing the connections that will further the abolitionist cause.


Posted by: William Loughborough on January 6, 2006 06:35 AM

I was so happy to see Dick Clark!!!! Congratulations for a job well done. It was a bit startling to hear the first garbled word, but his charisma is still present and isn't that what we really watch Dick Clark for? I hope he continues to recover, but I also hope he continues to be a part of our New Year's Eves for many years to come.

Posted by: Susan Fitzmaurice on January 6, 2006 07:49 PM

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