Monday, June 11, 2012

Crip Envy

Envy's ride
One of the things the nasty little bug who ate up parts of my neural network didn't damage was the circuitry in my brain that constantly raises the red flag whenever I am about to run over  one of the Seven Deadly Sins in my wheelchair.

That's why a wise person will take my worry that there's something a little hinky about the reality of disability in the USA as presented by "Push Girls," the new series on Sundance Channel.

I'm old, bald, and a near-quad. The Push Girls are young, beautiful, almost all paraplegic with the exception of one quad who is well off enough to hire the help of a personal care attendant rather than be stored in a nursing home.

Snapshot: being a paraplegic on Push Girls, California-style, means you can flip a light-weight wheelchair out of the backseat of late-model Mustang, climb into it, and pump gas.

Snapshot: being a near-quad in Missouri means you need assistance in opening and closing the side doors on a well-worn, in-need-of-regular-repair 1992 Ford van where you become a passenger on whatever errand is occurring.

There you have it: I have crip envy.

And that may color my queasiness over Push Girls.

Don't gloat. We're all human. I may envy the crip who is a paraplegic and can pretty much care for himself, but you probably envy someone for some reason. 

I can admit my envy because I am secure enough in my cripness that I don't much care what you think about me. That's your first step in understanding that being ass-planted in a wheelchair or having any other serious disability does not confer sainthood or turn a coward into a hero or make him a poster boy for inspiration.

I'm an imperfect human being, and truth be told, I relish that. It's liberating to understand we needn't try to be perfect since it perfection is impossible.

I also want to admit it because too many people will accept "Push Girls" as disability reality rather than mass media generated entertainment. It is disability as raw material run through the Hollywood mill to manufacture an artistic vision of what the producer believes is the life disabled.

"Push Girls" is to disability what John Wayne's "Sands of Iwo Jima" is to fighting as a Marine in that bloody battle.

And so here we come to crip envy, part two.

I envy those who arrive in the Land of Disability with money in their pocket. Like too many things in this world being disabled is about being able to afford the lifestyle. The Push Girls can, or at least the reality show is arranged to illustrate a comfortable lifestyle rather than one depleted by the costs of being disabled. 

Watch the show. Enjoy their enthusiasm for life. That's honest. Happiness is, in fact, a matter of attitude. But remember those ladies are representative of a very, very small portion of the disability nation.

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