Selfie: From Sexism to Ableism in One Week

Previously, I wrote about the extreme sexism and judgmental nature of the new sitcom Selfie. I’ve stayed with the show in the hopes that it will evolve into something more nuanced.

The good news is that it has – at least on the sexism and judgment fronts. Unfortunately, in the third episode it devolved into a show that makes fun of blind people.

In the second scene of the third episode titled “A Little Yelp From My Friends,” the characters are in one of those horridly annoying team-building staff meetings. Their boss asks everyone to look around the room and tell him what they see. A few characters share the obvious, like windows and doors.

Then it cuts to this man:

selfie blind joke

He says “Dark? Darkness? Endless night?”

There is no reason for this character to exist other than for the laugh at the expense of people who are blind. He’s not an active character in the show. He’s not even a passive character in the show. Someone in the writing room thought it would be funny to make a blind joke.

This character isn’t a person. He’s not even a character. He’s an object, a punching bag. He’s there so that the writers and the audience can laugh at someone who is not like them.

This joke is nothing more than “Let’s laugh at disabled people because we can!” If this had been a fat joke, TV show recappers would’ve been up in arms. It’s not ok to make fun of fat people anymore, but it’s acceptable to laugh with glee at blind people.

What’s even more disturbing to me than the joke itself are all of the people, like Sonia at the AV Club, who says:

The blind guy at the meeting saying “endless night”? I laughed. A lot. I don’t think it was right to laugh. But, I did.

If you know you shouldn’t laugh at something, then don’t laugh at it. That makes you a bully. It also makes you guilty of discrimination. You’re laughing at someone because they are blind. When you laugh at one person because they are blind, you are laughing at all of us.

For those of you who found this joke funny, I welcome your comments. Tell me how it’s funny that I fall down stairs because I can’t judge depth. Tell me how it’s funny that I have limited career options because I cannot drive. Tell me how it’s funny that I get debilitating migraines from lights and for that reason can never work a 9-5 job. Tell me how hilarious it is that I cannot enjoy the same independence that you enjoy.

Go ahead, tell me. I’m waiting.

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Comments

  1. What’s more is that if you think about it for more than two seconds the joke doesn’t work, logically. The character isn’t being snarky; the punchline isn’t the clueless Michael Scott style boss who’s using a team-building exercise that’s totally inappropriate for this group of people. The punchline is, as you pointed out, “haha, he’s blind,” and the joke accomplishes that by implying that the blind person is surprised that he can’t see anything. But why would that surprise him when, well, he’s blind?

  2. I find the reaction of the AV writer fairly typical.
    Laughing about a joke you shouldn’t laugh about is one thing – it happens, it can be involuntarily. “The Producers” is fully based on this. But to then come out in an article and say it out loud is one step further, and I think it basically means: “I know that I shouldn’t find this funny, because people have told me I shouldn’t make fun about disability. But I don’t feel why I shouldn’t, because I’m not hurting anyone with it, and people should perhaps just lighten up, innit?”
    It’s culture in which “me” is important, not “us”. The world in general has taken some steps backwards, compassion and empathy-wise. Through a lack of historical knowledge and cultural reference point (blame your education system) it’s not seen as wrong; it’s seen as possibly a bit naughty – like having that chocolate bar after 11 at night. You could even go as far as there being a sense of entitlement of having such opinions.
    In a similar vein, have a look at this, where students fail to see why blacking up is problem…

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