The MrBeast blindness video exposes ableism in society as a whole.
MrBeast blindness video exposes ableism
MrBeast, a megastar YouTube producer, recently published a video to his channel featuring a number of blind and visually impaired people who have undergone surgery to “correct” their blindness.
More than 76 million people have watched the video as of this writing, and both appreciation and disdain have been expressed viscerally.
MrBeast, for his part, has turned to Twitter to publicly lament the fact that so many people are upset with him for staging what essentially amounts to a PR gimmick while passing itself off as unselfish charity.
The video was more ableist than charitable, and that much is clear.
It’s vital to offer a warning before digging into the numerous layers of why the video is problematic. Despite the questionable concept MrBeast used to create the film, the participants — the patients and their doctors — shouldn’t be disparaged.
They choose to proceed with the procedure of their own free will. The justification for that decision is much outside the purview of this paper.
The largest issue with seeking to “cure” blindness is that, when viewed broadly, it fosters a sense of moral superiority held by those without impairments over those who are impaired.
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Systemic ableism permeates many facets of society, while not being discussed as frequently as racism and sexism.
The truth is that most able-bodied people see disability as a failing of the human condition, and as such, they should be pitied and lamented.
More specifically, disabilities should be eliminated – cured, as MrBeast said in the thumbnail for his movie.
Technically speaking, it is correct to see disability as a failing of the human condition.
Disability is what it is for the following reasons: The body, in some sense, doesn’t function as intended (s).
Engineers would be entrusted with identifying and resolving bugs if disabilities were computer software.
The human body, however, is not a mechanically perfect, inert object that lacks value or a soul.
For starters, the medical professionals depicted in the film aren’t all-powerful. There is no complete treatment for blindness.
More power to the individuals who underwent this operation if their lives were improved as a result of restoring their sight.
Despite this, neither their pre-operative visual acuities nor their long-term vision prospects are known to us. It is simply false that Mr. Beast claims to be able to “cure” blindness.
Fundamentally, Mr. Beast’s film is inspiration porn; it is aimed to present individuals with disabilities as altruistic heroes fighting the evil disability villain.
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In the end, it’s not designed for people with disabilities. It is intended to make able-bodied people feel good about themselves and about the efforts made by disabled persons to become more like them—more normal.
The theme of inspirational porn is often about a group that is “less than” the general public, which is why the handicapped community frequently views it with disdain.
Here, systemic ableism once more shows its ugly head.
Consider this: It would be horrible if you fell and broke your hand or wrist. For a while, you would be rendered disabled.
However, it would be expected that during your recovery period, you would still be able to function normally because you were still a human being.
You could require some assistive technology and find some things to be inaccessible for a while, but you would expect to be treated with respect and you wouldn’t anticipate someone to magically heal your shattered bone.
However, Mr. Beast (and his legions) are selling this with this video. They only acknowledge the horror of being unable to sight; they do not acknowledge the humanity of those who are blind.
In other words, those who are able often to believe that our disabilities define us.
Yes, our limitations do define us to a considerable extent in many meaningful ways. Nobody can escape their own bodies, after all.
But what about our unique characteristics? our relationships, jobs, families, and much more? People must be aware of things like wheelchair basketball leagues and the Paralympics, for example.
The idea is that, in terms of our inner selves, disabled persons are no different from anyone else. We are not to be pitied, and we most certainly don’t need to be uplifted in the manner that Mr. Beast advises.
Due to my preterm delivery, I was born with a number of limitations, yet the majority of people know me as a respected journalist, sports enthusiast, partner, brother, cousin, and friend who enjoys cooking and listening to rap music.
Although everyone in my circle is completely aware of my impairments, they do not primarily evaluate me on the basis of them. They are aware of the true me and are aware that I am more than my disabilities.
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My lived experience is distinct because I have so much to pull from: I have physical motor, speech, and visual impairments, and both of my parents were completely deaf.
I was the eldest of two children growing up, and I acted as my parents’ unofficial in-house translator.
I lived on the cusp of the hearing and deaf worlds as a CODA. I have personal experience with how immensely proud deaf people are of their culture and way of life.
What would happen to the people if deafness could somehow be “cured”? Real deaf culture exists. Because there wouldn’t be a need for sign language or the experiences that come with it, the culture would disappear.
In my final year of high school, I had a mentor who asked me if I would go back in time and make other choices so that I wouldn’t have disabilities on the day we met in my counselor’s office.
I made it clear to him that I wouldn’t in my response. He was surprised by my response, but I explained that it was because doing so would alter who I am.
I still feel the same way nearly 25 years later. I do, of course, have my time. I resent not being able to jump in a car and go anyplace at any moment.
Similarly, I frequently bemoan the fact that my limited mobility as a result of cerebral palsy stops me from occasionally moving as freely as I need or want to.
All things considered, though, my impairments have helped me succeed in many ways.
In another reality were I wasn’t born with a disability, I would not have been able to form the friendships I have, learn the things I have, or have a nearly ten-year journalism career.
That, in my opinion, is the ultimate silver lining.
When it comes to accessibility and assistive technologies, I don’t consider myself to be an authority. I have a lot of knowledge, but not all of it.
I also don’t claim to speak for the entire disability community or for all blind people. Particularly blindness has a continuum, and I claim to simply be aware of where my vision falls on it.
I also understand that, even for those without disabilities, finding a cure is not the way to “assist” blind people.
The disabled don’t require sympathy. We don’t require encouragement.
We don’t require our own remedies. We really need someone to acknowledge our inherent humanity.
We need abled folks to stop viewing us as the depressed, burdened outcasts society wants to portray us as and start seeing us for who we really are.
As I stated before, ableism is as common as racism and sexism, and Mr. Beast (and his supporters) are readily drawn into maintaining that deeply ingrained viewpoint.
To put it simply, we require allies – people who respect us as individuals.
It’s one thing to discover cancer or AIDS cure. Disability cannot be cured.
The tendency of society to see members of the handicapped community as little more than extras in a Tod Browning movie needs to be cured.
The disabled are not abnormal. The word “disability” isn’t horrible. We can teach you a lot.