Dedication, Loyalty and Friendship? Or Tokenism?
On September 4, Lawrence Carter-Long shared a link to a Guinness Beer commercial that showed a bunch of guys playing wheelchair basketball. At the end, all the guys but one stand up, and the whole gang of friends heads to a bar. Following are a few of the 40-plus comments this commercial inspired on Carter-Long’s Facebook profile. View the commercial and tell us what you think.
Lawrence Carter-Long: “Dedication, loyalty, friendship … the choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.” What say you, good people? Is this inclusion in advertising — or something else?
Tim Gorski: Awww, Guinness is trying to create a new image for themselves. I do kinda like it though. It made me all teary. Big men with soft hearts.
Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg: I don’t think it takes character to include someone. I think it takes just being a person. I just can’t congratulate people on what they ought to be doing in the first place, and I can’t stand it when people congratulate me on doing what I ought to be doing in the first place. It’s only in an incredibly harsh and isolating world that an act of inclusion could be seen as something to be called out and lauded as noble rather than simply expected. If we keep treating people like noble beings for doing it, inclusion will always seem like a choice rather than the way things ought to be.
Deborah Davis: The fact of the matter is most simply do not go to these lengths to keep someone in the game. Many friends walk away. So, I guess that does show good character as in loyalty and friendship to do so.
Chuck Graham: There’s no charity in this. It’s just guys hanging out with guys, playing sports and going for a beer. Did they not guard him and let him make a basket? No. Did they push him to the bar? No. Did they pat him on the head? No. And at then end of the day, it’s a beer commercial. Beer companies aren’t exactly known for their accurate representation of society as a whole. I can guarantee you that a number of focus groups liked it, which made them like Guinness, which in turn made them want to buy their product. More people will see this than the best documentary about people with disabilities that we could agree on, if we could, which I’m sure we can’t.
Lawrence Carter-Long: In the context of “dedication, loyalty, friendship” and ultimately “character,” wheelchair basketball in this ad is not positioned as fellowship or camaraderie but rather as something much more paternalistic. The non-disabled guys get to feel good about themselves, but once again, the actual wheelchair user is placed in a supporting role. That’s not an accommodation and isn’t friendship either — it’s tokenism.
Chuck Graham: Maybe the “character” is the guy didn’t give up on life, quit, or just be depressed. Look at the extremely high levels of depression and suicide in the disability community. Like any athlete that faces a major injury, it takes perseverance to get back and compete. Maybe those guys all played AB ball together. As a former wheelchair athlete, its portrayal of the sport is accurate. As a guy, it just looks like a bunch of friends that stick together and hang out.
Tying the ‘Not’
Last month my boyfriend asked me to make him “the luckiest guy” and marry him — and without hesitation, I said “yes!” After Nick slid his late grandmother’s Emerald ring on my finger (which fit perfectly) I called my parents. They didn’t jump for joy right off the bat and I knew why. I explained to them Nick and I plan on having a long engagement because we know when we get married, I’ll lose my Social Security Income.
It’s heartbreaking knowing if we got married now I’d lose my SSI and could lose the programs that pay for my assistants. Nick and I are doing OK financially, but if one of us loses our income we’d be screwed. I’m a writer/producer/actress/comedian and like most people in the entertainment industry, I’m waiting for my big break. Unfortunately because of my cerebral palsy, my job options are limited — being an out-of-work actress waiting tables isn’t going to work for me.
The notion that any family can survive on a single income (unless you’re a millionaire ) isn’t a reality anymore. I wish the government could see it that way. For the meantime we’ll keep living in sin.
— Allison Cameron Gray, allisoncamerongray.wordpress.com
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