“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A fantastic illustration of friendship

A student in the Cal Baptist Disability Studies program, Desiree Lesicko shared this video with me.  On one level it is just a beer commercial.  But the message is so fantastic.

There are many persons affected by disability who do not experience the kind of friendships illustrated by this video.  Instead they experience social isolation.  We need to choose persons affected by all kinds of impairments as our friends.  The benefit of such relationships is mutual.
"The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character." 
God bless,


Thomas said...

The advertisement for a beer takes advantage of the techniques becoming known as "inspirational porn". The definition at http://disabilityinkidlit.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/discussion-1-inspiration-porn/ The blog starts with this definition: any sort of media (a picture, a movie, a book, etc) or even a view of an individual, that tries to fabricate an ordinary action as something extraordinary.

Another site speaks of current posters http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-03/young-inspiration-porn/4107006

The fist clue that this particular friendship video might be inspirational porn is the music associated with a basketball game. The images, men playing a hard fought game, are not coherent with the sentimental music in the background.

We must be careful to not contribute to the well established devaluing narratives we live with.

Jeff McNair said...

Thank you Thomas for your thoughtful comment. I totally agree that often persons with impairments doing anything are portrayed as heroes or inspirational. I didn't get that from this video.

In reality, the video has little to do with the man with disabilities himself. He is hardly even a central character. He is not portrayed as a great basketball player or a hero or anything. The commercial is largely about his friends. One can imagine that the man became friends with the others and taught them wc bball or perhaps played basketball with his friends prior to being injured and they changed the way they play in order to continue to include him. His comment, "You are getting better at this" implies that this must be a relatively recent event. As a person who played a lot of "park" basketball myself as a young person, the game was real, the celebrations of a shot real, the walking off the court real. There was no coddling, no pejorative praise. The game portrayed equality.

You might also criticize the final comment about character, "The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character" in reference to the video, but I would once again disagree. When people do not allow aspects of disability to degrade friendship or prohibit the development of friendship, that is something worthy of praise, especially in our culture today. Arguably, one of the greatest problems that people with impairments face is that their lives are filled with people who are paid to be with them and are not chosen as friends.

Once again, I agree with you that this type of media walks a very fine line. On a very basic level, this is a beer commercial for goodness sake, seeking to sell a product with an inspirational message. I get that. But sometimes even beer advertisers get it right, and all messages of inspiration that include individuals with disabilities cannot be immediately offensively labeled and dismissed as devaluing.


jordan V said...

I have waffled back and forth with my opinion of the advertisement. I agree that it feels like a step in a better direction but I can't get away from the feeling of underlying paternalism that it also portrays.

I think the message would have been improved if the team were split between those with and without mobility impairments. As it stands it could be interpreted as "oh aren't those normal folks kind for changing the way they do things for their poor disabled friend".

I should also say that I know at least one person who actually joined an inter-ability basketball league after seeing the ad. I encourage you to check out her thoughtful take on the ad here: http://umbrellafeet1.blogspot.ca/

Unknown said...


I have mixed feelings about this one. While I love the cinematography, intensity and comradery of these men, I don't believe I would share this with my friends in Light & Power that live in a wheel chair and can't get up.

How about how many people are put in a wheelchair because of a drunk driver?

Too many question marks for me.

Jeff McNair said...

Interesting discussion here with the creative director of the ad.