November 7, 2008

How did Disney manage to be offensive about kids with diabetes?

An episode of "Hannah Montana" has been pulled and will be reevaluated after parents who saw a preview complained about the way a character was depicted. The linked article doesn't explain what was offensive. Is there some way to be insufficiently PC about diabetes? (If your guess is that there was something about weight or race that was un-PC, here's the character -- a slim, white guy.)

IN THE COMMENTS: Pogo (who is a doctor) said:
More than likely, some joke was made about diabetes that pricked the sensitive (which is of course impossible to avoid), and/or the message was not positive enough, having contained an actual negative assessment of the disease.

That is, someone mentioned the truth. Diabetes in a child or teen can be awful. But some parents want to shield their charges from it, insisting nothing negative be said at all.

Disney failed the PC test: the only remaining permissible humor is against an adult white male.

Minor calamities in which the lead character is in some sort of mix-up or unavoidable choice is the sole scource of creative tension left for a company like Disney that tries to please everyone.

In comparison, South Park tells everyone to go to hell, and their ratings are fine.
Modika has seen the pulled episode and also has a 13-year old sonwith type 1 diabetes:
Throughout the episode, the character with type 1 diabetes is prevented from having any sugar. He is constantly craving sweets-- even having fantasies about cotton candy and diving into a rubbish can in search of a thrown out candy bar.

The other kids in the show talk constantly of having to prevent the "sugar boy" from eating any sugar.

This theme not only promotes misinformation about type 1 diabetes (because those who have the disease can indeed eat sugar), but it can be dangerous as well.

If a type 1 diabetic has a low blood sugar (and remember, this kind of low isn't like those experienced by a non-diabetic, but rather something that could cause a seizure or death in a matter of minutes), they MUST eat sugar. Immediately.

Now, what if just one kid who watched this program had a friend with diabetes who needed to treat a low blood sugar?

And what if that friend thought he/she was helping by denying him sugar?

Do you see the problem here?
"Hannah Montana" could kill kids.

17 comments:

Pogo said...

More than likely, some joke was made about diabetes that pricked the sensitive (which is of course impossible to avoid), and/or the message was not positive enough, having contained an actual negative assessment of the disease.

That is, someone mentioned the truth. Diabetes in a child or teen can be awful. But some parents want to shield their charges from it, insisting nothing negative be said at all.

Disney failed the PC test: the only remaining permissible humor is against an adult white male.

Minor calamities in which the lead character is in some sort of mix-up or unavoidable choice is the sole scource of creative tension left for a company like Disney that tries to please everyone.

In comparison, South Park tells everyone to go to hell, and their ratings are fine.

Pogo said...

"How does Disney manage to be inoffensive about kids with diabetes, or any other malady?"

Ain't possible anymore.

Tibore said...

Good grief. Why the mystery? Was it truly offensive, or is this just overreaction?

Like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode that was pulled in the wake of the Columbine shootings, you wonder if the material was truly offensive, or if the network was just being paranoid. Some segment of society will complain about anything, so I'd be curious to see what the parents complaints were about that episode.

Then again, this is just a Hanna Montanna episode... not like it's of earthshattering importance or anything.

LarsPorsena said...

"Disney failed the PC test: the only remaining permissible humor is against an adult white male. "

Needs amending to "adult heterosexual Christian male."

Hoosier Daddy said...

Is there some way to be insufficiently PC about diabetes?

Evidently to the perpetual victim mentality and woe is me mindset that seems to infect most liberals, I suppose it's possible to be insuffiently PC about dirt.

Bissage said...

I swear this is true because I heard it from my cousin who was a nurse in the ER when they brought in the script doctors.

They had to do a rewrite because Mitchel Musso's character learned he had diabetes when he sought treatment for his impotence.

Some parents complained.

Go figure.

Jim said...

My daughter who is now 23 was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old. It can be awful for the child and the family at times, but I have no idea how anything that is said honestly can be offensive.

The point here is that living with it every day is the chore. What anyone says pales in comparison to the reality.

I think parents are forgetting how to teach their children to take a punch now and then. This hyper-sensitivity cannot bode well for the future.

I can't imagine old Sister Ruth Mary worrying about my self-esteem, except to point out that I had too much. But she could fix that too.

Pogo said...

Disney's recent motto has been:

"Want some pablum in your cup of bland? Yes, please!"

michael farris said...

Geez, this PC stuff has gone too far. You can't even make a harmless little remark about how kids with diabetes need to be put in forced labor camps without everyone going nuts.... What are we coming to?

Ron said...

Bubblegum pop too sweet? People entering into diabetic comas just from watching? Whew!

bearbee said...

Just viewed a not brief enough clip of Hanna M and could feel myself slipping into insulin shock.......maybe that was the prob.

I suppose it's possible to be insuffiently PC about dirt.

Yer dumber than dirt.....whoops, sorry dirt.

blogless said...

"I think parents are forgetting how to teach their children to take a punch now and then. This hyper-sensitivity cannot bode well for the future."

It's hard to comment on the Disney clip, without knowing what it was.

But I do agree with the sentiment, above. My son is in college, and I think my generation (in general) has not only wanted our kids to always be happy and try to make their paths easier, but we've even tried to shield them from disappointment, and that's made them less able to deal with adversity. We've really done them a disservice.

I can see I've done it myself, a little bit. (I really should've stopped cutting his meat at age 18 ;)

Palladian said...

"More than likely, some joke was made about diabetes that pricked the sensitive (which is of course impossible to avoid)..."

...especially if you're diabetic and need to take your blood sugar.

peter hoh said...

Just a guess here, but perhaps someone (Hannah Montana) said something to the effect that this person getting diabetes was not his fault -- you know, it's not like he was overweight or anything.

Modika said...

My 13-year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just four years ago, so I'll offer the perspective of one of those "offended" parents.

Throughout the episode, the character with type 1 diabetes is prevented from having any sugar. He is constantly craving sweets-- even having fantasies about cotton candy and diving into a rubbish can in search of a thrown out candy bar.

The other kids in the show talk constantly of having to prevent the "sugar boy" from eating any sugar.

This theme not only promotes misinformation about type 1 diabetes (because those who have the disease can indeed eat sugar), but it can be dangerous as well.

If a type 1 diabetic has a low blood sugar (and remember, this kind of low isn't like those experienced by a non-diabetic, but rather something that could cause a seizure or death in a matter of minutes), they MUST eat sugar. Immediately.

Now, what if just one kid who watched this program had a friend with diabetes who needed to treat a low blood sugar?

And what if that friend thought he/she was helping by denying him sugar?

Do you see the problem here?

Btw, Peter Hoh- a person's weight, eating habits, level of exercise, etc... have absolutely nothing to do with the cause of type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes. It is an autoimmune disorder whereby the body makes antibodies that destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

blake said...

Huh. The Boy is diabetic. (We think type 2, and from birth, but the doctors think type 1.)

We joke about it all the time. Dangle candy bars and cookies in front of his face...

No, not really, but we do joke about it. What else you gonna do? Sit around feeling sorry for yourself?

What's weird is that when he presented, the hospital and the doctors and nurses and specialists (etc., etc., etc.) were all gloom and doom.

We were just relieved because we finally knew what was wrong with him. And he was relieved because getting his blood sugar under control helped him feel a whole lot better than he ever had. His diet had been pretty constrained anyway, because high-carb food made him feel bad.

They were particularly invested in "He'll have it for the rest of his life." Assuming you don't believe it's curable now, is your crystal ball so perfect that you're sure it won't ever be cured? Really?

But they were a pretty humorless bunch and they seemed to want to impose that on us. They're probably pretty successful with a lot of people.

Though, you know, it was kind of funny. One doctor mentioned that there were several guys in the NBA who were diabetic. I was all, like, "Cool! My short, white, nerdy kid can be in the NBA now!"

Heh.

peter hoh said...

Modika, I'm well aware that Type I diabetes is not caused by diet or weight.

Not knowing the story line, I was trying to imagine what kind of insensitive comment could have appeared in the show.

Thank you for sharing the story line. The outcry makes a lot of sense now.