PETA’s new ad campaign

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals) launched a new ad campaign three weeks ago in their fight against cow milk:

Got autism?

I’m not entirely sure where to start here, PETA. First of all, though I realize that ads meant for billboards and quick web visits are meant to be image-heavy and textually sparse, you’ve provided a whole lot of misinformation in your few measly independent clauses. In asking the lovely “Got autism?” question, are you trying to be sardonic and rhetorical, or are you in fact addressing the 20 million autistics who currently occupy planet earth? Because, sure, I’ve got autism, and no, I had no idea that studies linked cow’s milk to autism. But perhaps your “study” is actually synonymous with what I would call “total crap.” Just a thought. Although, since I’m autistic, it might be that my inner thesaurus is operating on some totally whacked out, casein-induced frenzy. Or how about not?

Anecdotally, some autistics note amelioration of their “symptoms” — e.g., isolation, meltdowns, sensory overload — when they’ve removed dairy and wheat from their diet. (Of course, PETA, you would never crusade against wheat.) However, this “improvement” is anecdotal and not scientific. It could be that some autistics experience food intolerances or digestive problems. But, see, there’s a big problem with this “link” word, PETA, because any protective parent who reads this will assume that milk has been shown to have a causative impact on autism, which it simply doesn’t. There are plenty of vegan autistics who are just as autie or aspie as ever. I suppose, on the positive side, if people were to assume that milk does cause autism, then maybe they’d get their kids vaccinated and stop with the mercury-poisoning mantras.

And then there’s that frowny face, PETA. The Cheerios are a nice touch, really. I’m glad you didn’t use Fruit Loops, because then that might play into the assumption that only autistic children are worth giving a crap about.  But the frown — oh, the frown. I may have difficulty with nonverbals and facial expressions, but I think I’m accurate in concluding that Mr. Cheerio Face is quite weepy and pathetic. Basically, PETA, you and Mr. Cheerio Face are making the assumption that autism is a sad, sad thing. And, quite honestly, it’s not. Autism is a way of life, much like veganism, minus the liking of food-with-freaky-textures thing.

On another page, you write:

Autism is a brain disorder that causes sufferers to have extreme difficulty communicating and relating to others. It is often marked by anti-social behavior like screaming and obsessive repetition of actions, which takes an enormous emotional toll on sufferers and their families. PETA has created a billboard to alert the public to the connection between this devastating disease and dairy-product consumption. …

Anyone who wants to alleviate or avoid the devastating effects of autism should give cow’s milk the boot and switch to healthy vegan alternatives instead.

Again, PETA, you’ve mixed up some pretty important facts. Autism isn’t a disease.  It isn’t something that you wake up with one morning; it isn’t something that you catch on the subway; it isn’t something that goes away. Autism is a neurological condition, a condition that affects how one’s brain is wired. Autistic brains and autistic existence aren’t devastatingly anything, unless you’re claiming that they’re devastatingly awesome.

You ask, “Got autism?” I say, “Yes, I do.” Somehow, though, I don’t think you were ever asking me anything in the first place.

Keep on chugging!

ELO and autism: who knew?

My jaw dropped when I read this article yesterday morning. Apparently, the guy who directed Hairspray is directing a new musical based on ELO songs. (The article deems ELO as an “iconic eighties band.” Incorrect. ELO’s only top U.S. hits in the 80s were Hold on Tight and the Xanadu soundtrack, which incidentally brought about their demise, seeing as most people don’t find movies about roller-skating Greek muses who save disco houses with a tap-dancing Gene Kelly to be, erm, enjoyable? The 70s were ELO’s heyday. 1978, specifically. Big spaceships and laser shows.)

Also from the article:

In a script written by newcomer Marvin Easter, the two socially-prominent Trump-Hilton sisters and their mildly autistic brother, a toy store proprietor, attempt to reinvent a centuries-old love potion and launch a designer clothing line based on insomnia and prescription pharmaceuticals to save their “Grey Gardens”-style penthouse from foreclosure.

I’m not sure how “true” this article is, but it’s been plastered on a lot of ELO sites and listservs. Apparently, they’re looking to cast Steve Carell, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Amy Sedaris as the lead roles. I take this to mean that, if Steve Carell were cast, he would play the “mildly autistic brother.” A mildly autistic guy who sings ELO songs? All I can think of is his performance in Bruce Almighty.

I hope that this musical doesn’t make ELO look ridiculous, and I’m also curious to see how autism will be performed. I keep imagining a faux-autistic Steve Carell trying to sing something like Evil Woman or Ticket to the Moon. And that kind of scares me.

As an example of ELO gone bad, take the recent Broadway remaking of Xanadu, the 1980 bomb starring Olivia Newton-John. The plot was pointless, but the soundtrack, half of it being written and performed by ELO, rocked. The 2007 remake of the music is quite horrific, and the singers have even added a couple ELO songs to their show that were not in the original movie.

Here is a comparison of the original “Do Ya” with its recent bastardization:

  1. The 1976 studio version of Do Ya by ELO
  2. The sucky new version

Additionally, being that ELO has been my nearly lifelong perseveration of choice, I writhe over any cheesy commercialization of them that might occur. As an AS child of the eighties and nineties, I suffered for my love of ELO. Kids tortured me over my obsession with Jeff Lynne. And while one of my largest hopes in life is to talk intelligibly with people about ELO, I don’t think that this musical will accomplish that for me. Rather, I think that a bunch of fourteen-year-old girls will become engrossed with tin-can, screechy sounding ELO makeovers and the actors and actresses who sing them. They’d be clueless as to the context and history surrounding the real ELO. And I highly doubt that this wannabe musical would have cellists running around on stage with instruments over their heads, or dudes in sequins playing their violins with oranges. And the setting doesn’t sound amenable to giant spaceships either, unless the HFA toy-store guy happens to perseverate on them.

I always imagined that an ELO movie would revolve around time travel or outer space and aliens, something cultishly classic. Not this pop-culturish rich people stuff.

My kindergarten graduation

A few weeks back, I played around with a dazzle box and decided to digitize a few portions of my kindergarten graduation. It’s strange how clearly I remember being six years old. I received the part of “Polly Prune” very last-minute, replacing a girl by the name of Farrah. Originally, I wasn’t even cast because I was so painfully quiet and “shy,” but Farrah couldn’t remember her lines, and apparently I knew everybody’s lines. During the last few rehearsals, my kindergarten teacher kept yelling at me to speak up.

I think I did a decent job during my 15-second debut. As for my hat: a woman from church made it. It’s white with little prunes taped on, the prunes being rolled-up garbage bags. My teacher asked if she could keep my hat, and I gave it to her.