As I believe much of the trimmings make clear, I started this journal with one very specific purpose in mind. To add my voice and perspective to the so-called debate about autism civil rights. I say so-called debate because as any person who pays attention to the proper meanings of words can tell you, debate implies something. It implies that there are two (or more) sides to the argument, and both have a certain amount of demonstrable merit.
The autism civil rights debate is therefore not a debate as far as I am concerned. It is one side engaging in emotional blackmail, deception, and suppression of opposed viewpoints (which means pretty much anyone other than themselves). One side is right, the other is wrong. It is therefore not a debate, but rather the informational war equivalent of World War II. And just like in the prologue to World War II, the Nazis in this instance are being thought of as the good guys. Yes, I know that analogy is faulty. Support of the Nazis among outside observers was always very qualified at best, but work with me here. Basically, what I am saying is that the autism civil rights movement is in a similar position to that of the Jews in the time betwixt the ascension of the Hitler government and the declaration of World War II.
I will be brief about this. During a session in World Of Warcraft yesterday evening in which my fellow guild-founder and I were levelling the characters that I loosely think of as our “mains”, I began discussing the idea of how I wanted to spend the next 36 or so hours. Because my blood sugar was falling low without my realisation, I began to get antsy and contemplated going to the cinema a day ahead of when I originally planned. A few things emerged during the discussion. One, that the remake of Total Recall was shit. Sorry, Len Wiseman, but when you baby-fy a Paul Verhoeven film, you get what you deserve. Two, that there was a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan in the rumour mill, and possibly already in the theatre I was looking up (it turns out the latter was not quite true – the IMDB literally has no listing of a remake of Star Trek II that I could find). In fact, I think it is worth mentioning just how disrespectful the idea of a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan really is. One, the ink is barely dry on Ricardo Montalbán‘s death certificate. Two, when one attempts to imitate a performance as bang-on as Ricardo Montalbán‘s, they only end up succeeding in looking like an asshole.
But then mention came up for reasons I am struggling to remember of how I was struggling with the idea of destroying every Blu-ray Disc I have that has Sylvester Stallone encoded on it. His present film, The Expendables 2, is being advertised as being released in a couple of days. Now, when The Expendables was released, it was being promoted as a tribute to the 1980s action film where men were real men and blah fukking blah. During one publicity event, a compere mused that he felt feminine sitting at a table with Stallone and some of his co-stars, including Dolph Lundgren, a man whom even Arnold Schwarzenegger would feel a bit girly standing next to.
People will recall that it was recently in the news that Sylvester Stallone‘s son, Sage, died of causes that have yet to be fully explained. It has also recently been hinted that Sylvester has decided to do publicity work for the terrorist group Autism Speaks. I will not get into the details concerning what could have led him to choose this course of action. But he needs to understand something. Among the people he seems to think he is helping, the number that would be surprised to learn that Autism Speaks somehow murdered Sage in an effort to convince him to help them do their dirty work is exactly zero. And in response to mister compere, I have something I would like to say.
There is no person as limp-wristed and gutless as one who would willingly persecute those who have been deprived of a voice and stand to lose everything because of it. The latter is the autistic, in case you were not getting it. The former is Autism Speaks, and it appears Sylvester Stallone is presently siding with them.
I would like that compere to stop for a second and think about how it must make a person who has endured a lifetime of bullying from everyone including his family for a characteristic he can help no more than the colour of his eyes when anyone of power decides to aid a group of people who want to legalise persecutory behaviour against him. Now, multiply that by a few hundred, and you might have some idea of how it feels when that person of power happens to be someone you admire at all in some sense.
As it happens, the woman I mentioned that I was a bit dismayed by an advert for The Expendables 2 to happens to be black. That brings me to an analogy. Although this scenario is as unlikely as me growing a third arm, can you imagine how she would feel if she learned that during our friendly conversations, I was secretly running off funds or other support to organisations like the Ku Klux Klan? As I said, it is an unlikely thing because the Ku Klux Klan and Autism Speaks get about the same level of respect in my eyes. Namely, none whatsoever. But that is pretty much my point in this sidetrack. Whether men like Sylvester Stallone like it or not, as a public figure they have a certain amount of responsibility. That responsibility includes setting an example to those who might admire the public figure in question. Whether you agree or not that Chuck Norris‘ films are almost universally shit, I think we can agree that as a martial artist and businessman, he sets a very good example to the public. Now, when you exclude some of the political statements he has made, you also have to agree that when it comes to things he does not demonstrate knowing a great deal about, such as medical science or… well, pretty much everything outside of business and martial arts, he is strangely silent.
That, in a nutshell, is how I wish all managers and agents would instruct their celebrity clients to behave. If you are thinking of making a big statement for publicity purposes about something like autism, shut the fukk up, basically.
In order to understand why this is good advice for an agent to give, we have to go back in time a bit. If you are not as old as my remaining grandparent, and have no interest in film beyond the superficial, then the name Leni Riefenstahl probably will not mean much to you. But it means a lot to many directors, including ones like George Lucas. That shot at the end of the first Star Wars film in which Luke and Han are presented with medals for their part in the destruction of the Death Star? That is pretty much an exact copy of certain shots that Leni Riefenstahl used in Triumph Des Willens.
Now, if you are not familiar with film history, that title probably might not mean much to you. But it is the name of a propaganda film… that was made during the 1930s. At that time, Riefenstahl was a promising young director who had attracted the attention of Adolf Hitler. Hitler, as it has turned out, offered many film directors in Germany work for various purposes that the Nazi party felt a need for. One such director was Fritz Lang, who made an equally influential film during a time when chancellorship was merely an ambition for Hitler. Lang‘s response to Hitler‘s offer of “pro-German” work was much the same as the rest of the German intellectual elite to communications from him. Namely, Lang left Germany and did not come back whilst Hitler was still alive. But Riefenstahl applied her own unique talents to creating a masterpiece of propaganda that not only has been emulated by directors and advertisers ever since, it was also the first documented use of techniques in filmmaking that are still used to this day. The dolly shot (in which the camera is mounted on wheels and moved along a track) is just one example.
But after World War II ended, Leni Riefenstahl endured a massive downturn in her career the like of which makes the action stars of the 1980s look at her and think “wow, I am glad I am not her”. Not only was Riefenstahl arrested for her connection with the Nazi party, but finding any kind of work in the industry after 1945 proved akin to pushing shit up a vertical slope with a splinter from a toothpick.
That, friends and neighbours, is what I am sort of getting at here. At the time that Riefenstahl was shooting Triumph Des Willens, the idea that her life would be dominated by debate about her allegiance to one of the most evil regimes in recorded history probably never even occurred to her. This brings me to the question that haunts me every time I contemplate my medical woes or my social ills. Namely, what will I think of what I see in the mirror when I am about to take my last breath?
Let me give you a hypothetical about the future. Say it is the last week in October of 2058. Yes, this date is more or less exactly eighty years to the date of my birth. That is why I chose it. The world is a very different place. The autism civil rights amendment has been in effect for a while, and whilst the autistic do not feel universally comfortable in society as yet, there are regular prosecutions of what are labelled as “autism hate crimes” publicised in the media. High-publicity prosecutions of individuals for simply using derisive words against autistic adults happen very regularly.
What do you suppose will happen to all of the celebrities and actors who have “donated” their time to Autism Speaks and never apologised for it or admitted to making a mistake? Will they just quietly live it down? Go on with their lives without a blip? Or will they be looked upon with a similar derision to that which Leni Riefenstahl endured throughout the last fifty-odd years of her life? Will there be a naming and shaming gallery, in various media formats, such as films in which having helped Autism Speaks’ nefarious goals is depicted in a fashion that is not quite Nuremberg War Crimes Trial level, but along a similar vein?
As I said, this is not a debate. In a debate, both or all of the sides of the argument have levels of merit that make them worthy of consideration. The curebie arguments all run along similar lines and themes, and they are all utterly devoid of merit. So much so, in fact, that one can judge the quality of a proclaimed autism specialist by how harmonious their work is with the viewpoint of the curebies. If the curebies try to tell you there is a shred of merit to what any person says, what they argue has merit, or even the person’s entire body of work, can be dismissed with confidence.
John Cusack, another man I have no problem believing could kick Sylvester Stallone‘s arse, once said something that I believe in the same sense as I believe that falling at forty-two feet per second will kill you when the fall is interrupted. He has said that celebrity is the worst thing that can happen to an actor. There are numerous reasons why this is true, but probably the most important is that some more intelligent celebrities must gnash their teeth at how members of the public take them as an example of how to live life. Both doom metal and punk even address this phenonemon in their own ways that basically amount to telling their audience to find their own direction and stop looking to whatever idiot for a path to follow. This is because the people who unquestioningly follow what they are told by whatever media source are inherently dangerous. When a person blindly accepts whatever an impersonal source tells them, they can be motivated to do just about anything to anybody. And that is what Autism Speaks are counting on. They know that they are in a race against time. They know full well that they have failed to make the autistic think of themselves as broken and inferior. They knew from the get-go that they would never succeed a hundred percent in that. In fact, the black American, as described in articles like this one, is the most successful attempt by a majority to make a minority think of themselves as inferior and/or broken. And I think you would have to be very young or insulated in order to not grok that that effort, for all of its success, was only partially successful and grows less so with every passing generation.
Autism Speaks know that the government is the only place where they can achieve a hundred percent success. They are campaigning constantly for the okay from things like government to start waging a campaign to wipe out the autistic. And they know that their only chance of success lies with the American government, the home of “democracy means majorities have the right to stomp on minorities”. Because the US government has emerged, quite ironically, as the one place on Earth where arguing that yes, we know we cannot find any discernible defining difference between us and them, but them are not right and thus must go, to leaders will actually fly. In Germany, the place that still hangs its head in shame about having put such political ideas into action some seventy to eighty years after the fact (and will likely do so for at least another couple of hundred), arguing such ideas in their governmental assembly can get you arrested and imprisoned.
I am speaking not just for myself or the hidden minority that I represent when I say that I believe the German people are, after a fashion, better for that.