Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Trouble with Jerry

The news release below is now circulating. As a frame of reference, I heard a Hollywood reporter say yesterday that there is some significant opposition in the film community to Lewis being awarded. The opposition arises from his attitude toward people of homosexual orientation. The irony might be amplified, at least as far as the disability community is concerned, if (as reported) Lewis appears using a wheelchair.

... from a news release.

Los Angeles, Ca. - Disability community leaders from across disability advocacy will protest the decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to grant Jerry Lewis the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at this Sunday's Oscar Awards ceremony. Lewis has described disabled individual is “half a person” and referred to a wheelchair as "a steel imprisonment."

For more than two decades, disability rights advocates have objected to Lewis' portrayal of life with a disability as tragic and pathetic. In response, Lewis snarled, “You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!”

Dismissing the disability community's objections, the Academy has decided to proceed with the award. In a letter to the activist group The Trouble with Jerry, Academy director Bruce Davis compared Lewis’ insulting, outdated attitudes to "some scratches in the paint job... of a Lamborghini."

"To outsiders, Jerry Lewis may be perceived as a humanitarian, but to us Lewis personifies one of the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities: outdated attitudes," said author and activist Laura Hershey, a protest organizer. "While the Motion Picture Academy has chosen to award Lewis the Hersholt award due to the money he has raised on his MDA Telethons, we counter “The cost is too high. Money can’t buy respect,” said Hershey.

Over 30 organizations endorse The Trouble with Jerry campaign, and to date over 2600 individuals have signed a petition protesting the award.

Demonstrations will take place during Oscar weekend in Los Angeles and around the US. Local LA protest schedules and locations are as follows:
  • Friday, February 20, 12 noon, Motion Picture Academy, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills.
  • Saturday, February 21, 12 noon, Kodak Theatre, Highland & Hollywood Blvd.
  • Sunday, February 22, 2:00 p.m., near the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood & Vine

Correspondence between The Trouble with Jerry and the Motion Picture Academy, as well as some history of disability rights protests against Jerry Lewis, and current protest information, can be found at the protest group's website.

No comments: