Cultural visibility or exploitation?
After reading "Culture as Disability" and last week's viewing of Josh Blue on Last Comic Standing, I couldn't help questioning whether cultural visibility is always the best way to further understand disability and difference better. When does visibility become exploitation? Eli Clare talked about the freak show and subsequent decline of it today. Was Josh Blue exploiting himself when he went on national TV and made fun of his disability and the stereotypes surrounding people with CP? Did he inadvertently box everyone with CP into a category they might not want to be a part of? What would Eli Clare think about Josh Blue? I guess I'm trying to sort through the question of whether or not it is helpful to make disability and queerness and other "differences" visible in society or if, possibly, it's just another less obvious form of exploitation for profit. When I read that the recently trans gendered Chaz Bono was going to be on this season of Dancing with Stars, I thought it was an amazing advancement for the trans community to get mainstream recognition. Then recently there has been a lot of ridiculous press on the apparent controversy of having a transgendered contestant on a "family" show. People have even gone as far as to warn parents not to let their children watch the show in fear that it would confuse the child's own formation of gender identity. These news articles are perpetuating the exploitation (not visibility) of a transgendered person. Now I feel as though many people will be tuning into the show not to support the community or to better understand what transgendered is, but instead to mock and gaze at a "freak".