Media Representation

Every now and again I get a friend or relative sending me links to articles or videos to see what I think of them, and I’ll admit I usually enter them with a negative bias. I go in expecting there to be something wrong, whether it’s merely someone’s phrasing or their ideology as a whole.

This was the most recent (thanks Toni):

A blind and Autistic man goes on America’s Got Talent and sings while playing the piano, remarkably well actually. But are his abilities only noteworthy because he has these disabilities? (I don’t believe Autism to be a disability, but for the sake of grouping it with blindness I’ll stick with the terminology)

As of now, ten minutes after watching the video, I’m still undecided on the judges intentions behind their words. It’s quite clear that they are praising him on his evident musical talent, and are expressing emotion towards his singing voice. Just one word leaves me in doubt. Just one.

Inspirational.

Is this, as with their other comments, being used in reference to Kodi’s singing? Or is it being used to show that despite having these disabilities he still has an amazing ability?

It can be witnessed quite a lot in mainstream media. You see articles written about amazing feats accomplished by sub-par humans, and how we should hold them in high regard because they managed to do something despite their disability. Are they amazing feats? Why must we always consider these achievements in terms of someone’s disability. Could we not instead simply recognise it as an accomplishment and leave it at that, as with every other able bodied person. Are they sub-par humans? Are you, whether consciously or not, viewing them as less than yourself and therefore expecting that they are incapable of the same things?

I can’t speak for you as the reader, but I don’t know many people that can sing or play the piano that well. ‘Able bodied’ or not. AGT’s YouTube team didn’t have to title their video as they did, it didn’t have to say that Kodi ‘defeated’ Autism to stand on stage and perform. Defeating Autism makes me imagine Kodi walking out with a big stick and beating to death a manifestation of his brain, highly non-sensical, but so is titling the video as they did. “Kodi Lee performs song accompanied by piano” would have sufficed, it isn’t as eye grabbing, but then we shouldn’t have to go for the sympathy votes.

There is one final point I’d like to make that wasn’t actually in the question I was originally asked. The judges were told Kodi was blind. They were told he was Autistic. Why would you, a complete stranger, then run up at the end of his performance and hug him? I don’t like being touched at the best of times, and that’s when I can see it coming. Kodi didn’t appear to react negatively from what I can see, but why take the risk?

It’s now an hour after watching the video, and I’ve watched it again since. I’d like to say that aside from the production teams poor choice of titling, the judges were simply amazed by the musical talent present, regardless of disabilities. This, however, is only my opinion, and I’m open to discussion if anyone feels the need.

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