« Yoohoo! Where are you, gimp groups? | Ragged Edge Home | The ECBloggerArchives Home | Gimp groups and Roberts: what's up? (with updates) »

August 25, 2005

Telethon time coming...

Less than 10 days now to the 39th rendition of Jerry Lewis's bathos party known as the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. Be sure to use all those words -- it's the Official Title. Very Important.
Though crip groups protested the 'thon in the 80s and 90s, the protests seem to have waned in recent years. Harriet McBryde Johnson still does her annual gig on the downtown streets of Charleston (here's a story), and there's Laura Hershey's website., but big flat-out protest seems to have fizzled.
A week after this year's 'thon Jerry will be getting a big award -- "the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' prestigious Governors Award in recognition for his more than half-century of work on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy," as their press release puts it. Seems like a good opportunity for some protest a la "Million Dollar Baby." If a protest's being organized, I haven't yet heard about it.
I thought it a bit opportunistic the way MDA chose July 26, the anniversary of the ADA, to announce Jerry's award. Or maybe more like thumbing their noses at disability rights? Hard to tell, but I wouldn't put it past them. I've never liked the group, not so much because they're into the cure bathos -- although that's a plenty good reason -- but more because they could do so very very much for rights and access with their billions -- and don't bother. A visit to their main website gives you their flavor, which is to me the antithesis of what an organization truly dedicated to "helping" disabled people should feel and look like.
In coming days I'll provide some more links to stuff about Jerry, the MDA, and their amazing ability to garner media attention. Stay tuned.
COMMENT-BODY:I've never been a fan of Jerry or the telethon. As one of "Jerry's Kids" (barf), I can say that I don't appreciate the stigma that goes along with having MD. The telethon regularly parades out poor cripples for people to feel sorry for so they'll give money. Effective, yes - tasteful or dignified, no. Personally, I can't snub too much, because they have helped me - with free visits to their clinic (which were frankly the worst moments of my childhood, so I'm not thanking them too hard), they helped me buy a wheelchair and they supply me with enough money to refurbish my batteries every year. They also provide valuable info. Still, with all the money they have, they could do more for people like me. I've been hearing about this cure they've been working on my whole life - where is it? I'm more interested in what can help me today, not after I'm dead. Their monthly glossy magazine promotes tons of expensive health aids I could never in my dreams afford...I'd rather have them help me buy an accessible vehicle than find a cure.

When I was 17 I had a job writing thank-you notes for the MDA. The idea behind this was that people are more likely to open a letter that is handwritten. So we would send people thank you notes (with about 1000 signatures from the same woman!) and use all these tiny stamps for the return envelopes, because they thought that people would think we were so pathetic that we couldn't afford one big stamp! It was a horrible job and it gave me tendonitis. Thanks MDA!

Posted by mjohnson at August 25, 2005 04:01 PM