Monday, August 01, 2005

Insult to Injury

I find it absolutely insulting when I see celebrity actors portraying the mentally disabled.

Case in point: last's night's telecast of the feature film, I AM SAM, starring Sean Penn. And the TV-film, RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER, which stars Rosie O'Donnell - and which was telecast on CBS last spring.

It's one thing when a perfectly healthy actor interprets a character who is physically disabled, and wheelchair-bound. But when someone like Mr. Penn or Ms. O'Donnell appears in said films, I find their performances in poor taste and inexcusable.

As the author of the upcoming book, LIFE STORY - THE BOOK OF LIFE GOES ON: TV'S FIRST FAMILY SHOW OF CHALLENGE, I feel a particular obligation to protest BUS, SAM, and the like. LIFE GOES ON was and remains a groundbreaking series that featured Chris Burke, a real-life actor with Down syndrome (and no, not Down's Syndrome), who played Corky - a teenager struggling with the challenge of the disorder.

BUS, SAM, and other such films, either for the large or small screens, not only insult the mentally and physically-disabled communities, but also many of the viewers who are forced to watch such drivel, clandestined behind good intentions or "spreading the word" on having legitimate compassion for the "less fortunate."


Hollywood needs to stop making these insulting (and there is no other word for them) films with celebrities offering insulting performances.

Instead, actors with REAL disabilities (again, i.e. the amazing Chris Burke from LIFE GOES ON) need to be cast and employed.

THEY know the REAL story of their life challenges. THEY are the ones who deserve to shine in true films of compassion to properly display the strength of the human spirit. THEY are the ones who, when granted the chance, are really "able" to out-perform the performers.

As opposed to "celebrity" actors who attempt to earn some kind of universal brownie points under the false pretense of compassionate communication, seeking an Emmy or Oscar nod in the process.


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