The new MTV documentary news series How's Your News features reporters who are mentally and/or physically disabled. Thing is, they turn the tables on their disadvantages by using them to disarm their interview subjects.
The best part about How's Your News? correspondent Susan Harrington's interview style is her refusal to humor people by laughing at their stupid jokes, and her inability (not disability) to pretend to be impressed with their answers. Like when she asked Jenna Jameson what she does "for a living," and when Jenna responded, "I'm a former porn star," Susan was silent for a moment before giving an intentionally inauthentic, "That's cool."
People can be sensitive about the disabled, especially if they think that they are being exploited for entertainment purposes. I have two things to say about that. The first is that disabled people are people, too, and in this age in which self-exploitation and reality television are, for many, the initial steps on the stairway to success, why should disabled people be denied access to that? Must they be forced to take the ramp in life's metaphors as well? Shouldn't they be afforded the same opportunities as everyone else?
The thing about How's Your News? - which was in the works long before MTV picked it up - is that instead of laughing at the correspondents, you're laughing with them, as they mock celebrities and people on the street. If anything, the show highlights how great and unique and funny and charming and awesome these people are, and those who had prejudices against the handicapped before, might actually (hopefully) understand them a little better.
Related: Special Ed [This American Life]