Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Self-advocate

A lot of people commenting on my blog have raised the issue of allowing people with Down syndrome to advocate for themselves. So I started looking. I just wanted to find some "every day" people who are just living their lives, and I found that in Josh, a 28-year-old man with Down syndrome, who, with the help of his brother and friends, makes videos that are creative, fun and (I think) thought-provoking. Just so you know, in his own words, it's not for the politically correct crowd. (He does a series called The Retarded Policeman, in which he stars.)

(And although I hate doing the *warning* thing, I know I have readers from lots of backgrounds; if you can't stand four-letter words and off-color humor, you should probably skip Josh's videos. But I hope you don't.)

Enjoy. (He has tons more videos on his YouTube page, too, where he says, "...i want to act for my life because i love it so much. my bro and i make great films together...)

23 comments:

Tricia said...

You are my go-to guy for finding cool/interesting/thoughtful video/film info on the internet. Thanks!

Kelly said...

I watched it with Will. He said "again?" when it was done. I hope he doesn't pick up something and share it with his preschool class, it's not The Wiggles after all ;)
Thanks for that.

Chris said...

Feel better? I do.

Thanks. Can't wait to share that with my husband.

Very cool, funny stuff.

Michelle said...

ok...is it bad that Im gonna share that? ;)

Terri said...

Nice. Now that's what I call self-advocacy.

bella said...

Wonderful.
I loved this.

annofthejungle said...

I've seen his videos before. I still can't decide what I think about them, though. They're funny, but only if he's fully in on the joke.

Have you heard about "How's Your News"? It's a documentary of a cross country trip by a group of mentally disabled people. They go from city to city interviewing people. Very interesting. I think you can get it on amazon.

Kim Ayres said...

That was superb :)

God is Great Beauty Salon said...

That was great. Funny, but not JUST funny. Love how it in a direct way questioned stereotypes.

Michelle said...

I hafta admit, I am intrigued by it. I am also disturbed by some of his other videos. I cant quite figure out HOW I feel about it. It is thought-provoking, for sure.

Anne said...

I love this! Thank you for sharing it.

We had a really warm, spring-like day over the weekend. Our family was headed out to the grocery store (it's a family affair, don't you know?) and as I walked out of the door with Archie to get into the car he yells, "It's hot! It's f**king out!"

Yep. That's my boy, for sure.

Tricia said...

Oh yeah...I meant to mention "How's Your News" too. And, it may be surprising to hear that that Johnny Knoxsville movie was actually good too...it was even endorsed by the Special Olympics...um..."The Ringer". I thought I would HATE it...but it was funny and I think painted folks in a good light without being schmaltzy or angelic.

beans said...

I am laughing my ass off. That was absolutely fantastical!! Reminds me of when my older brother and I tried to teach my DS bro how to curse . . .we have never lived that one down. (we were VERY good teachers, BTW)

I will have to check out the others.

Anonymous said...

I realize I am in the minority here but, I am a bit disturbed by this. I think this has crossed over the "self-advocate" line and into the taking advantage of a vulnerable adult....just my thoughts though... I guess I just don't find the "R" word funny no matter who is saying it.

But Tom I do love your blog, gets me thinking, and I do appreciate how you for warned about the videos :) Monica

Anonymous said...

But are you sure he's being taken advantage of? He's the one who spoke it, after all... You wouldn't think he didn't know what he was saying, would you? I didn't get the impression that he was unaware of any implications of what he was saying - quite the opposite, in fact.

waldenhouse said...

Hmmm. As my five year old often says, "I like it and I don't like it." How is that for non-committal? It was funny and clever. They made me laugh but it was the kind of laughter that leaves me feeling slightly uncomfortable. Not entirely sure why. . . it is the same feeling I get when I hear really overweight people telling "fat" jokes.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I can feel pretty sure to some degree he is being taken advantage. Not only do I have a 9 yr. old son with ds who is very bright and verbal and loves to entertain for his 20 yr old brother and his friends and sadly I believe they could get him to do anything as long as they were laughing and including him. I also worked with children and adults with disabilities for over 15 yrs. and even the highest functioning adults I saw how easy it was for the world to take advantage of them. That is how I felt when I watched the video of them having him eat pickled pig lips while they were laughing and taping it. I'm sure you could say, well it looks like he liked them (although it looks to me like he is going to gag when he first tastes this) and yes, people do it all the time on fear factor but, my personal opinion was he was being taken advantage of..... Truly, I would give anything to make the fact that my son, will always be a target for people to take advantage of him, trust me, he has his own thoughts, and opinions, and he lets us know them all the time, but he also can so easily be manipulated especially when he so badly wants to fit in with his peers.... Again, this is just my opinion anonymous, but you asked.. I will not defend my views anymore here.....sorry Tom... Monica

Carole said...

I watched several of his videos. The one you posted made me laugh, which I felt guilty about. I do know that when we can laugh at ourselves we are healthier than when we can't. Perhaps this is self-deprecating humor but I feel I shouldn't laugh. It does seem that Josh doing what Josh wants is his business.

Tom said...

Tricia: Glad you liked it as much as I did.

Kelly: Definitely not the Wiggles. And you can tell the principle at your son's school that it's my fault.

Chris: Hope your husband like it.

Michelle: Share away.

Terri: If we can't laugh at ourselves, then we're just laughed at...

Isabel: Hope it gave you a chuckle as you get over the flu

Annjungle: I checked out a few clips of "How's Your News"? online; hadn't heard of it. Thanks.

Kim: Good stuff

GIGBS: I thought so too; works on a bunch of different levels.

Michelle: I really do like how his videos force people to ask questions...

Anne: Sounds like Archie has been sneaking onto YouTube to watch Josh's videos. :)

Tricia: I rented "The Ringer" after Ian was born and found it mildly amusing. Not offensive in the least.

Beans: I was wondering how it might strike you... glad it gave you a chuckle.

Monica: Takes guts to stick up for your convictions, especially when it goes against the majority. One of the reasons I dig these videos is because there is a propensity to treat people with ds with kid gloves. All the gloves come off in Josh's videos. I see him being treated as an equal.

Not for everyone, and I'm glad you voiced your thoughts here. Big thanks.

Anon: Thanks for dropping in and for contributing to the conversation.

waldenhouse: I felt the same exact way. Not always sure how to feel. Laughed and cringed.

Monica: Wish I knew who "anonymous" was.

Just so you know, the video where Josh was eating the pig lips also gave me the most pause. Guess I want to believe that his brother and sister have his best intentions in mind.

No doubt peer pressure makes people do many stupid things; but that's kind of why I was mostly OK with that video in the end. I want Ian to be treated as an equal - to "cave" to peer pressure, if you will. Not to be treated as if he's made of fine china.

But you raise some very good issues and I know that you have all the best intentions behind your words - wanting people like your son to live without being taken advantage of. Thanks again.

carole: I think you hit it on the head (Josh's business). Seems like so many parents - me included - are guilty of turning our kids into a cause. 'preciate it.

Leah said...

I can't go watch the videos. Still, I completely agree with whoever anonymous is. I watch Angela with her young adult brothers, and she will do ANYTHING for them! She will also sit on the playground at school and repeat ANY word the other kids try to get her to say. And I mean...any word...all because they're laughing and she feels she's the center of attention. Even teens with DS love this about her, and at social events will try go get her to do all the stuff they themselves get into trouble for. Yes, it's exploitation. It's not less exploitation in this form that it is Crispin Glover's film. THOSE actors were participating, weren't they?

Tom said...

Leah: Appreciate you voicing your thoughts... no doubt there's a fine line between active participant and being exploited. But I guess I see these videos as quite different than Glover's because Josh is included in the films with his family. (Brother and sister) And their love for him is self-evident.

Glover stood above his actors and used him for his own purpose, while I believe (and I may be wrong; it's happened once or twice :) ) that Josh is a participant and even more, appears to be a contributor to his brand of humor.

I think it's good to distinguish between not preferring something (I don't prefer stuffed mushrooms) and saying something is wrong at all times and on all occasions.

There are lots of people who don't prefer the humor in these vids, which is perfectly normal and good. My two-cents. :)

David said...

That's ... subversive.

Tom said...

David: My thoughts exactly.