Inspirational Porn

The Spotlight on the Term “Inspirational Porn”

I read an article yesterday that was really downing the disability-focused television ads that aired during the Super Bowl last weekend. I was rather shocked as the headline read:

“Inspiration porn is not okay”: Disability activists are not impressed with feel-good Super Bowl ads

The article’s main complaint is that disability activists feel that the media is “objectifying people with disabilities to sell warm-and-fuzzy feelings.”  While the article claims those with “disabilities themselves shook their heads,” I am over here celebrating like we just scored a disabled touch down. Isn’t that what we’re working towards? Saturating the world with the beauty and grace that those in the disability community have?

The disability community often complains that there are not enough children with special needs featured in advertisements. We challenged advertisers to sign on to feature more children with special needs in their marketing campaigns, even inspiring movements such as Changing the Face of Beauty. Yet when we see an inspirational ad or video featuring someone with a disability we immediately scream foul!

Why we should be proud of the inspirational factor
The article suggested that the problem with the inspirational factor is “Inspiration porn” turns people with disabilities into mere objects, placing their physical differences on display and reassuring the viewer that “If these people can live with just one leg,” for example, “I can do so much more without a disability.”

I think it’s much simpler than that.

When watching these types of commercials why can’t someone say you know what I looked at you as being life’s underdog, but now I can see that you have tremendous value, and that you are not that different from myself, you just have challenges to overcome. It’s about visually cheering the disabled community along. “Way to go!” “We’re happy for you.” And “Wow, we’re behind you for all that you strive to achieve.” Isn’t that so much better than implying that the disabled community is just being “used” as a marketing tool? After all we want to matter to society, seen as equals, and as having great value despite physical limitations.

We can’t have it both ways
Eventually the disability community is going to have to pick a side of the fence and stay on it. Either commend advertisers and businesses for including the disabled community and putting us in their field of vision, or condemn them for using the disability factor in campaigns and ask them not to feature us at all. However, I don’t feel the end goal should be out of sight out of mind. That isn’t what the disabled community is working towards. In order for the general population to grow increasingly more comfortable around those with disabilities it starts first by shedding the image that those in wheelchairs don’t matter, or that they aren’t capable of achieving great things. It’s okay to be a cheerleader and see people like my son on television and say “way to go kid.”  But you can’t have it both ways. We’re going to have to make a decision. Are we going to pat these companies on their backs for finally including the disabled community? Or are we going to shame them for featuring special needs children for the sake of sales?

We are doing a disservice to ourselves
There is nothing wrong with someone looking at my child and counting their blessings. Yes, by all means count them, and then count them again. But know that what you are seeing could at anytime be you, your child, your parent, your neighbor or co-worker. If acknowledging the challenges in my son’s life aids others in putting their problems in perspective, I’m okay with that. It very well could be the start of bridging the gap of someone not fully understanding what life is like for those with disabilities, or their caregivers. I want my son’s hard work, effort, and determination to overcome those obstacles recognized. And I want cheerleaders to do a victory dance for us in the end zone.

The feedback isn’t always going to be favorable, but we should take advantage of any opportunity we have to show the world how strong and beautiful those with disabilities are.

So I salute each and every one of the companies who were brave enough to go out on a limb and show those with disabilities, how hard they’ve worked and how amazing they are. Thank you for not showing us as broken, unwanted, and unworthy. Who won the Super Bowl again? I can’t remember because I was too busy watching these warm-and-fuzzy ads that made me super proud to be a special needs parent.

Microsoft Super Bowl Commercial 2015: Braylon O’Neill

How Great I Am | Presented by The Bold New Camry | Toyota

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] The last two posts I looked at were from a different perspective, as I wanted to understand the other side of the argument in regards to inspiration porn. The first one is written by a mother who has a child with a disability. It came as a response to an article written about a disability-focused Super Bowl ad which received some criticism by those fighting against the idea of inspiration porn. This author argued that it is okay for someone to have the mindset of looking at someone with a disability as being an underdog in life, and cheering for them to make it through. She believes we should be proud of the inspirational factor of those with disabilities. She then argues an interesting point about taking a side in regards to the use of people with disabilities in the media. She believes that we either need to accept the use of people with disabilities in ads or condemn them completely. A black and white approach I would not necessarily agree with, as I would say that the media can still feature people with disabilities without causing special attention to their disability or using it as an inspiration. (https://blog.easystand.com/2015/02/the-spotlight-on-the-term-inspirational-porn/) […]

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