Bones- Strike Two?

Bones- Strike Two?

I really like the television show Bones (Bones: The Complete First Season). ¬†The mysteries are interesting, not easy to figure out, and the dynamics of all the characters is fun. ¬†I’m behind in watching it, since I do it instantly from Netflix. I’m about three seasons behind at the moment. ¬†One episode almost ruined it for me. ¬†I lost a lot of respect for my favorite character, Bones herself.

One of their¬†colleagues¬†that they were working with on the case was a little person. ¬†Bravo to the show for placing a person with a disability in a normal role. ¬†It went downhill fast, though. ¬†Bones’s partner Booth was interacting with the guy because that’s what Booth is good at, while Bones is hopeless socially. ¬† After their first meeting with him,¬†Bones accused Booth of treating him preferentially, being nice to him only because of his¬†disability. ¬†I would object to that too.

Thing is, he wasn’t.

He was treating the guy with respect, as a colleague, same as anyone else he works with in the course of investigation, while Bones in her determination not to coddle him, treated him with the most shocking rudeness I could ever imagine.¬† She ridiculed him, pointed out his disability constantly, behaved like an ass. ¬†Given her history as a character, I would expect her to be focused on what he had done, whether his work was worthy of her respect or not, I wouldn’t expect her to make non-stop references to his height. ¬†It was disgusting.

I lost a lot of respect for Bones’s character and for the show after that epsiode.

And now another scandal is brewing.

I’ve been following Marlee Matlin on Twitter, and yesterday:

Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
Quoting @bonesonFox episode airing 5/5 “I would love to question her but she’s a deaf mute.” Ahem, Deaf people aren’t mute. FAIL.
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Wow.  That is bad.

First of all, I can’t believe anyone born after 1890 even considers using that phrase.¬† It is so completely outdated, I have no words.

Secondly, if you need to question someone who is Deaf, get a fucking interpreter.¬† What do you do when you need to interview someone who speaks Russian and almost no English?¬† You get an interpreter.¬† You don’t say, “Oh, I can’t interview that person, she’s Russian.”

***************

Matlin continued through the day:
Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
Whether a deaf person does not speak well or choose not to use their voice, “deaf mute” is simply outdated & offensive to deaf people. Word.
Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
Unable to speak or not, “deaf mute” has so many negative stereotypes. Anyone researching a deaf story line for TV would’ve discovered that
Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
Ask most people who can’t hear and I’ll bet they’ll say “deaf” or “hard of hearing” works. For me “deaf” works fine.
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
So many have asked; here it is. Deaf or hard of hearing works. The term “hearing impaired” is out of date. And no one uses “mute” or “dumb”
Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
Easy to do deaf stories “She can’t hear! She can’t speak!” But better to show deaf people as WHOLE like¬†#WestWing,¬†#LWord,¬†#CSI or @ABCFsab
Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
RT @Pricc1 Mute is a button on a remote. >absolutely priceless and right on.
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And then, an interesting update:
Marlee Matlin
MarleeMatlin Marlee Matlin
Bravo @bonesonfox for the correction of the term on the show tonight. We based our comments on the preview you had on line. Thanks!
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I haven’t seen the¬†episode, but apparently they changed or removed that line. ¬†I’m sure that is due to the celebrity power of Ms. Matlin. ¬†It takes tireless effort and¬†watchfulness¬†to fight against the pervasive prejudice all through society. ¬†TV writers, do your research. ¬†Care about people because it is the right thing to do, not because it is the politically correct thing to do. ¬†One more mess-up like this and I’m going to have to stop watching this show.

 

UPDATE:

Here is an explanation of what happened from Fox’s POV: http://crushable.com/entertainment/marlee-matlin-takes-issue-with-depiction-of-deafness-on-bones/

Apparently one of the characters calls this woman a deaf-mute and is corrected by another character.¬† Unless the first character was 102 years old, I’m still not buying it.¬† As the article points out, this is like someone referring to the suspect as “Negro.”¬† It’s just startlingly out of date, not one of those words where there is some uncertainty about whether it’s okay to use or not.

ANOTHER UPDATE: From the comments, people seem to think I’m way off base on this one. I guess this “deaf-mute” term is not as much in the past as I thought. ¬†I still haven’t seen this episode, so I can only speak from what Miss. Matlin said. ¬†However, the show is still on thin ice for me. ¬†The first episode I described made me feel ill watching it.

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Chris
    May 7, 2011

    Hi Ruth,
    I’m glad you feel the same indignation about the word “deaf-mute” and the way it was used on “Bones” as I do. It’s just SO wrong and – as you say- so outdated!
    Yet – I am from Germany – and you wouldn’t believe how often I hear the word “deaf-mute” here! I have been learning sign language for years now, and have several deaf or hard of hearing friends, and so many of my hearing friends and acquaintances keep talking about my “deaf-mute-language” or “those deaf-mutes you know” etc. I keep correcting them, but it’s difficult. Of course, the situation of the deaf is, generally spoken, quite different here than in the US, especially in terms of deaf rights and deaf tradition (e.g. sign language has only been recognised as an official language in 2002), but to see the phrase “deaf-mute” used in a popular American TV show really did surprise me (in a negative way, of course). I would have thought the American film makers would know better…

    PS: Your blog is great, please keep it up ūüôā

    • RuthMadison
      May 7, 2011

      Thanks for your comment! I would have thought they would know better too. The frustrating thing is…they just don’t care. I’m glad they got some negative press over this.

  2. Jensen
    Aug 25, 2011

    Why should people care? The character who said “deaf mute” was corrected. No scandal happened, no matter how much you wanted.

    • RuthMadison
      Aug 25, 2011

      It was unrealistic. It wasn’t so much the character being offensive by using the term. If that’s part of the story, then no problem in my mind. But it was something that people just don’t say in the U.S.. Not even people trying to be mean or un-PC. It’s a ridiculous term that no one has used here in hundreds of years. So, I would have appreciated the writers caring enough to do two minutes worth of research.

  3. MichelleR.
    Oct 9, 2011

    I don’t know, Ruth. The fact that most of us have heard the term means that it’s still in use, and not several hundred years in the past. It was certainly the term I heard growing up. There are a lot of phrases that should be in the past, but aren’t — and for a show to use one in order to denounce it doesn’t make the show runners the bad guys.

    The phrase is used in The Stand to refer to Nick Andros — and if you Google the character’s name and the phrase, there’s no shortage of hits from others referring to him that way.

    • RuthMadison
      Oct 9, 2011

      Really? Must just be me, then. I’ve never heard it used by anyone in real life. I may have judged too harshly.

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