Saturday, April 14, 2012

Double Down Dumb

Any bored Chicago Resident need had looked no further than the 4th Annual Double Denim Bar Crawl for something uproariously fun to do on April 14th. Though I had nothing better to do today, the Bar Crawl was not for me. For many reasons I stayed away. Not the least of which was fashion.

To build publicity around the event, the bar crawl poked fun at the double denim look, evidently a poor fashion choice on most days. With no knowledge of fashion myself, I naively make poor choices in clothing nearly everyday. With that in mind, I stayed away from an event that encouraged questionable fashion. Even if just for one day, I was proud to know that, in sweats and a t-shirt, I was better dressed than at least a hundred other Chicago residents.

The bar crawl was a fundraiser for Autism First. Of course it was a fundraiser. Why else would some one deliberately choose poor fashion. But fashion wasn't the only poor choice of the organizers. If the goal was to promote positive awareness of Autism, and promote the lives and independence of Autistic people, they could have picked a better group to support. Far from empowering autistic people, the group has been accused of demonizing autism, and blaming autism for ruining the lives of parents of autistic people. In 2007, Autism Speaks launched a "Ransom Notes" campaign, which compared autism to a kidnapper, stealing the lives of children. The campaign was attacked and dismantled by a new group called the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, which is a group created by and run by autistic people, working to advance a "a world in which Autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens."

Fashion and autism politics aside, I still wouldn't have gone to the bar crawl on Saturday, April 14th, no matter how bored I was, because of a statement one of organizers wrote on his friend's wall earlier in the week. The organizer wrote, "Thanks Jess! Quick clarification, the awesomeness goes down this Saturday! And yes, we have a midget this year."

I have always been a bit naive, but I am fully aware that there are plenty of gigs, in Chicago and elsewhere, that recruit little people simply because we have an atypical physical stature. For some reason, people think having a short guy or a short woman at a party really livens things up. Just today, my old pal, and promoter of dwarf empowerment, Danny Black posted a message in search of a female dwarf in California who would be willing to wear a bikini and dance in front of 100 guests at a 40 year-olds birthday party. No matter how many reality shows try to 'raise awareness' about dwarfism, Danny Black is going to continue to get phone calls from people who are willing to shell out money because they think "midgets are fucking awesome man!"

But please. A fundraiser for a disability group? Even if the ethics of that disability group are a bit questionable, it's still quite poor judgement. How can there be anybody, especially connected to the disability community, not listening and paying attention to Peter Dinklage? Come on! The man won a Golden Globe, spoke out against dwarf tossing, and was the subject of the coolest article ever about dwarfism.

To give them some credit, Autism Speaks did respond when I wrote them. They were sympathetic to my concerns and they reached out to the organizer of the event, who was the perpetrator of the "yes, we have a midget this year" comment. The perpetrator wrote to me and apologized, explaining that his behavior didn't really reflect him as a person. Perhaps he only gets that way when he culls his closet for denim and thinks about drinking a lot of beer. I certainly appreciated the apology. But I wonder what came of the little person who supposedly made an appearance. Was he just another person trying to raise money for what he thinks is a good cause, or was he part of show?

No comments:

Post a Comment