Wednesday, 12 December 2007

"My Momma Always Said: Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates..."




Forrest Gump: "I'm not a smart man... but I know what love is".




You know, I have been watching a few Malaysian shows lately...And among the few shows I have watched (sorry, I don't keep track of these titles), a few featured Orang Kurang Upaya's (OKU)...



The first one I watched, featured a child with Down Syndrome...

The second one had a teenager who was mentally slow...

And the third one, had a child of about 8 years, who by the looks of it (I don't know for sure), had Cerebral Palsy (CP)...




What struck me was this:-

All the children/teenager portrayed in the shows had one thing in common...





They were all portrayed by people who were 'normal', and who all portrayed their characters as complete idiots...They reminded me of someone who is trying to mock Aznil Nawawi, by exaggerating all his antics and jokes...



It is quite obvious the people who portrayed these characters never bothered to study the people they were portraying, and equally obvious the director of the show had no idea about the character he/she was directing...



Because if you really look at it, these special people are not idiots...They may behave differently and communicate differently, but hell, they are not idiots who go about crying, screaming, making messes everywhere, and creating havoc! And worse, these special people are not all mentally mad, who talk to themselves and laugh hysterically and pull their hair!

And to think that all (the characters) were portrayed as a shame on their family...



Each special condition has a different way of presenting themselves...How can it be that all the special people portrayed had the same way of behaving (terribly)?




I have met kids with Down Syndrome, who with proper intervention, are doing very well...I have also met kids with Down Syndrome who did not get proper intervention, but who despite that, don't go about creating havoc and being a general nuisance and embarrassment...


Just last week, my mother and I saw a young lady with Down Syndrome shopping in the mall...alone! She was properly dressed and she went about on her own, and never made a nuisance!




As for mentally slow/retarded, it does not equate embarrassment, idiot or nuisance!




And for Cerebral Palsy, well, they aren't pain-in-the-necks either...Chee Keong had CP, and he was terrily spastic on the limbs, with a whole host of other problems, and was mentally slower than children his age...But he could communicate his likes/dislikes, and he could understand instructions...And he was very lovable!



There are many types of Cerebral Palsy and different levels of severity...Some are affected mentally, while others are not...But these children are lovable ones...Some don't talk at all (they can't), some only smile or giggle, some are only comfortable with their parents and family, while some can't communicate at all (except, say, show pain) because of severe damage in their brains...




But, they aren't pain-in-the-butts like those portrayed...They are not a hybrid of Aznil Nawawi+Jim Carrey+Eddie Murphy gone horribly wrong!

*Note: I have nothing against these 3 people*





If a person on the street describes people with disabilities as an idiot, that I can understand...Not everyone is lucky enough to meet these special people and communicate with them...Not everyone reads...(Of course, ignorance is not an excuse)...



But I would think that if you are a director/film producer/actor/actress etc portraying a character who has disabilities, it is your duty to do some homework, and come up with something befitting and respectful...I think you owe it to the community who watches your shows to paint the correct picture...




Has anyone here ever watched the movie 'Riding the Bus With My Sister' or even 'Forrest Gump'? I think Rosie O'Donnell and Tom Hanks showed us all the side of these special people we need to remember and teach the young children about...


That underneath all their disabilities, there is a person underneath...A person with feelings, who is capable of being hurt. who is capable of loving, who is capable of being independent, and who deserves our time, love and respect...But more importantly, they are people who can teach us a lot...




And they deserve movies portraying them that is not making a joke out of the whole thing...It might be a comedy, but that does not mean mocking is acceptable, or even funny...



42 comments:

Anonymous said...

i actually saw a short show last night where there was a cacat boy and he was annoying. all he did was scream and act stupid. you're right. cant be that all cacat people are like that.

whre4arthou said...

hmm.. riding the bus with my sister..

it was a really nice show.. touching and everything.. I think I watched it at least 5 times..

Nai..

What you want for Christmas?

malaikat said...

Hi,
First time here. Interested piece you have posted here. Good work! I agree with you.

Akmal said...

Hi there.
I am with you in this matter. I mean, come on! All people are born to the world with a role. Some with certain disabilities, but somehow possesses things we wont understand, we won't be able to do.
Who irritates you more? Mat Rempit yang sihat walafiat biking like crazy in the pit dark of the night looking forward to get earlier into the grave or the disabled? In my case, the disabled is never irritating.
We need to change this.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

dafling,

just curious, which shows were you refering to? i may have missed it completely or i would say my piece too.

another famous quote by mr Gump- 'Stupid is as stupid does'.

now, to have this silly idea that DS kids are bunch of idiots as being portrayed in shows are totally uncalled for. i mean, them actors dont need to try hard as they look like a bunch of retards themselves.

ok, that was unnecessary but like the directors, i can make things up too.

kahkahhh...freedom of speech maa...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Anon 13.41,

Yeap, my thoughts exactly! They make the OKU's up to be some spoiled brat who is idiotic on purpose...Complete mockery of their disabilities...

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Whre4arthou,

That show was indeed beautiful...Rosie O' Donnell was actually very lovable!

As for Christmas, no need dear (and why waste money on postal?)...Keep your money to yourself...But thanks for the thought *Hugs*

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Malaikat,

Cool name...Thanks for coming by...


Hey Akmal,

Exactly...We have 'normal' people who go all out to annoy the general population and what do we do? We go and glorify them by giving them free this and free that, and even award them with a trip to the poles of the world, and give them tokens like skydiving!

The irony of it all...

The disabled are never irritating...Thank you for pointing that out...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Kerp,

I don't keep track of titles, too be honest...I mean, they have weird titles to begin with, and with Astro, I channel surf only and don't bother finding out what exactly I am watching...

But I'll be sure to note the titles down the next time I watch it...

Although the last 3 ones, I tengok, got disgusted and flipped somewhere else...Why give them the movies the honour and patronage by actually watching then?

Geram, you know...*Ergh*

But ditto on freedom of speech! ;) It is most welcomed...

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

yeaa...tell it to me over some coffee. i am so looking forward to you-know-what...!!

PrincessJournals said...

Daphne, maybe u shud write to the director/producer/wht-not abt it? im not sure abt msian dramas/movies but iv watched The Other Sister (Juliette Lewis) and I am Sam (Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning)a few times esp I am Sam and i kid u not tht everytime i watch tht movie, id cry my eyes out!

Puteri said...

Daphne,

Most Malaysians haven't got over the stereo-typing of certain groups of people. And that include directors.

Maybe some of our more thoughtful directors will some day come up with a movie like Forrest Gump, or I am Sam. We can only hope.

I have great respect for Yasmin Ahmad and I hope some day she will tackle this issue of stereo typing of people not considered "normal" by society like she tackled religious, and racial issues/relationships in her previous movies.

One can only hope.

nstman said...

You know what, the idiots are not the special people. The idiots are normal people who make fun of disabled people. The idiots are some Members of Parliament (i think you know who) who do not know the feelings of special people. The idiots are the general public who patronise special people. Now we know who the real idiots are.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kerp,

Yeap, we'll talk over coffee...I'm looking forward to you-know-what too (gosh, sounds like a conspiracy!)...But if you geng up against me like you did that day, I'll clobber you! *Grrrr*

No fair, you know ;)

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Kak Farina,

Hrmph...Tak jadi lar...Firstly, I don't know the film title...I was too incensed! Next time, must take better note...*Note to self*

As for the movies you mentioned (although I haven't watched the full show)...I am not surprised...Some are just so beautiful, even the trailer can make you weep...

Really goes to show how much time and thought they put into it...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Puteri,

I am a fan of Yasmin Ahmad's work...She really is a gem with her down-to-earth stories, films, and advertisements...

If only more Malaysian people who call themselves directors/producers etc would have her touch with people...

To echo what you said: "One can only hope"...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi NSTman,

Wow...Well-said, sir! Well-said to all the statements you put forth...Looks like we have lots of idiots in society, huh? ;)

winniethepooh said...

i agree that when actress/actor gets a role, they do hv to do their "homework" before protraying a certain role..movies directors do hv a responsibility to 'educating' their audience. Movies such as "forest Gump", "I am Sam" (Sean Penn), "A beautiful mind" (Russell Crowe)are some great movies that showed me the different side of people who are unique..

u hv a great xmas daphne and a wonderful 2008!

Nightwing said...

Hi Daphne,

Great post...ya, ppl should not make fun of others because they are not 'normal'.

But seriously what is 'normal' in this day and age ?

Some one commented about our MPs. They are 'normal' but sometimes the words come out from their mouth....

sharlydia said...

Totally agreed with u! Actually I was with my 15 months old baby at the pool on Sat, and there was this DS kid with his elder sister sitting there watching us...I can see & feel that the DS kid got so excited by kicking his legs while watching us play, and i'm sure he would love to come join us...I would love to have him join us too, if he was having the swimsuit on and his parents around (at least safer)...

J.T. said...

Hi Daphne

What I wanted to say has already been mentioned by most of your readers here.

When one is ignorant of a special needs person's situation, one appears more idiotic when one tries to portray that special individual. Stereotyping is the worst thing an actor can do ... at least I think so.

adam and eve said...

AHHHH forrest gump,my all time favourite.i mean it may come across as absurd how he pratically influence the whole of USA in the 60's and 70's.jokes aside, that sort of sincerity is magnetic.

adam and eve said...

by the way guys and gals with trisomy 21 are a pretty 'PURE' lot.lots of loves emanates from them,certainly do not hold grudges......................CERTAINLY

IBU said...

Forrest Gump is my one of my favourite movies. The out of ordinary achieved by the not-so-ordinary.

It's the label of "not so ordinary" like kurang upaya that I don't quite agree with.

As if those fully 'equipped' with limbs and all nerves and neurons functioning ordinarily are really full of keupayaan? I think not.

It's high time that local film producers give much thoughts to the character they want to cast in their films, beyond just the money behind it.

anaf said...

Hello there, I come across ur blog while blog hopping. Your stories are very inspiring. U volunteer at the Ipoh Hospital? Can anyone just go in and volunteer? Do share with me ur experience ya :)

Cataractman said...

Hi Daphne. Kevin from the puppeteer programme here :)

Very interesting point you have over there but you must remember one thing who is the real disabled person here. People who swallow up shows like these and agree with it thinking that this is an accurate portrayal of reality.

Dont blame the misinformer. Blame the misinformed. Until we can get people to go out and see it themselves, we will always have ignorance.

And I agree about your comment about Downsyndrome childre. I met a 28 year old DownSyndrome person (he is small so I thought of him as a kid) and I entered a very deep conversation with him which delighted me. Moreso than many fellow people that I know who thinks the world revolves around celebrities. If you ask me I know who's the disabled person here.

I realize I'm sounding very bitter but I'm just very bitter. How do you love a mass?

adam and eve said...

wonder whether u watch 'the simple life of Ah Wong' the HK version of Forrest Gump over on tv2 from 7 to 8pm on weekdays?pretty cool .i laugh my arse off.for this whole month all appointment is off from 7 to 8.

We need Robin Williams as President said...

Spot on, Girl! These special children or people are the group that need protections and special rights in our society. Not the rich selected businessmen or contacts. Malaysia do not have enough speech therapists, child physcologist, etc. We have too many "idiots" who claim to champion the rights of certain group.

tokasid said...

Dear Daphne:

Yes,somehow local programmes will 99% show that OKUs are a hysterical,idiotic,manic or psychotic lot.And you'll see the actors are actually more kurang upaya then the OKUs. I would say the actiors are more like OKA(orang kurang akal).
I think the problem lies with research, or actually a no research by the scriptwriter or screen writer or the director. And for Malaysian actors to do research on their character??

And I am sure many malaysian knew that the potrayal is for from right and nbody believes that the OKUs are like what had been acted.

But its unfortunate that these stereotyping of OKUs in local drama is here to stay., esp for hari raya fare, a telemovie with OKU tearjerkers is a sure hit.

Forest Gump and I am Sam had shown us, OKU can be good on movies.

ANonymous said...

I think that is the way so called normal people like us try to cope with all these deficits in life because in actual fact, many of us do not know what to do in the presence of the handicapped. Once a certain professor asked what is so emas about orang emas meaning old people ? If we are to be truthful with God and with ourselves, then we should know that if these deficits are normal, then they should be like us. We don't have to construct any extra things for them. But you see, we cannot. We have to make special walkways for them. We have to give them the white cane. We have to give way to them. Yes. It sounds selfish. But that is the real exact meaning of " handicapped ". Handicapped means one cannot do what so called normal people can do. It is not that they cannot do. It is that they do not have all the functional natural abilities for them to do so. Probably at the end of the day, it is making the best out of a bad situation. If the person is blind, is that the end of the world for him ? No. Definitely not. But he cannot be like the so called normal people because in a fast paced world, without a pair of eyes, you really cannot compete like all the other so called normal people. Even normal people are competing with normal people. Normal people suppress normal people. So how much is the fighting chance for a handicapped person ? Handicapped people are here for one of the many purposes and that is to teach the normal people, love.

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Winnie,

Yeap, I think some homework on their part won't hurt...I am not asking them to portray it perfectly, just a little bit of compassion would help...

You have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy 2008 too!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi NightWing,

You know, you are right about the 'normal' thing...

How many of us are so-called 'normal'? I'm not!

Hehe...As for MP's, haih...Waste saliva only talk about them...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Sharlydia,

Oh dear! I can tell you that children with DS are amazing around water! You will terbeliak when you see them! They are so amazingly flexible that they will keep everyone amazed with their antics in the water, and you will actually envy them!

If only the child had gotten to go in! What a treat you and him would be in!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi JT,

You know, you have a way with words...You have actually summed up everything that has been said here in just a few lines!

Wow!


Hey Adam and Eve,

You know, you are right! People with DS don't hold grudges!

I was talking to a friend of mine who's DS brother died at the age of 50+ (he fell and hit his head), and he said that if there's one thing he remembers about his brother, it is that he doesn't know how to hate!

Come to think of it, who is the OKU here?

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Ibu,

Good point! We're all 'fully equiped' but we all have our shortcomings too!

As for labels, haih...We all do it, and everywhere lor...

Just pick up a form to fill, at any place:

Got race lar, religion lar, occupation lar, income lar...

All to label also!

But you are right about names and labels that are meant to be 'bad'...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Anaf,

Thanks for coming over...=)

Yes, anybody can volunteer at the hospital, and if you happen to be blessed with my 'gifts' (ie: big mouth, and thick skin), it helps lor...

Cos you need to be independent to move around, and tahan with people being rude or suspicious of your intentions, etc...

All you need to do is to go to the Hospital's Medical Social Work Department and see the officer there, fill in a form, get interviewed (by the officer) and get your tag!

You can call 05-5222099 (direct line) for more info...

Hope that helps, Anaf...=)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Cataractman,

You know, you do have a point...I never thought about it that way...

But I think both sides have to be bear the blame...The misinformer has a responsibility on the public, and the misinformed has a responsibility to him/herself!

And no ler, Kevin dear, you don't sound bitter...Nothing bitter at all!

Great to hear from you, by the way...Take care, and keep in touch!

Daphne Ling said...

Hey Adam and Eve,

No, I haven't seen the show...I didn't even know there was such a show!

I don't watch Chinese serials, actually...=)

Will catch it if I can, though...Thanks for the heads-up! =)

Daphne Ling said...

Hi We Need Robin Williams as President,

Haha...Cute nick! And come to think of it, might not be such a bad idea, after all!

But again, another great point, like the commentors before you...

And ditto, we don't have enough speech therapists, child psychologists etc...

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Doc,

Welcome back from your Egypt sojourn...Hope the nose-job on the sphinx was a success! ;)

You always come up with great comments Doc...They are sometimes like a post on its own!

Lack of research is definitely one reason, and really, our actors/actresses can go a long way if they actually do their homework...

It's not that we don't have talent...More like, not enough work (research needs time and energy, no?) done...

As for tearjerkers, it doesn't have to be so...Making movies shouldn't be just about the money or the publicity or the ratings!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Anon 21.12,

I agree that many of us don't know how to react when we meet someone with a disability...We don't know how to behave, and we often cannot help but stare...

That I think, many will agree, is a natural thing...We will stare at something which is different (good or bad), and when confronted with something different, we won't know how to react...

But the point I was trying to bring across is that our local production teams should put in some effort to get to know the people they are portraying...

I think many will also agree that these deficits are not normal (and that is why we construct special walkways, give them canes like u pointed out etc)...

But you know what? I think that these 'deficits' and these canes and special walkways etc are great! It gives all us humans a chance to be compassionate, and it makes us learn to accomodate others, and makes us learn to think about other people too...

And yes, these special people teach us love...They really do!

You know, we (as in, you and me) are talking about 2 different issues altogether, although we're both talking about special people and disabilities...

But thank you very much for bringing it up! I appreciate the input and you have brought up a very important point...So thanks! =)

lukmanw@gmail.com said...

Hi

This is my 1st time drop into ur blog. Ur articles about OKU (DS) in Malaysia really going-in-deep in heart especially I had spent few years with them in OKU Special Class in Taiping.

Beside that 2 movies ur mentioned, u should have Rain Man dan Forest Cat (Fei Mau), Hong Kong Tv Series (early 2000).

Last Sunday Mingguan Malaysia and Monday Berita Harian also highlighted this issue.

Keep strong Sis!

lukmanw
http://orangkecilorangbesar.blogspot.com/