Bear with me. Last night my good friend Mockingbird and I attended our local film festival (Real to Reel) and saw a wonderful documentary called Darius Goes West. A group of eleven young men decided to take their friend, Darius, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, on a cross country road trip to California with the expressed goal of convincing MTV to put him on Pimp My Ride and having his wheelchair customized. It wasn't so much that they wanted the wheelchair tricked out, it was that they wanted to raise awareness of the disease in the demographic that watches that show.
I admit that I knew very little about Muscular Dystrophy until last night. I did not know that it is the most common fatal genetic disorder to affect children worldwide. There are nine different forms of Muscular Dystrophy, all of which produce degeneration of the muscles of the body. Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most severe with a 100% fatality rate. The longest anyone has lived with DMD is their early 30s. Most people with DMD succumb in their late teens or early 20s. Check out the Muscular Dystrophy Association's website for more information. (Or to check my facts).
The young men involved in this documentary are incredible. It was completely and utterly clear that they valued Darius as a person and as a friend and were doing this to not only create lasting memories for him and themselves, but also because they wanted his life to mean something. And Darius himself was amazing. Here was someone who has been given a slow and painful death sentence and yet he was living life to the fullest, without self-pity, and without shame. How many able bodied people can say this? Not only did they simultaneously raise awareness of DMD everywhere they went, but they also demonstrated how, despite the ADA, handicapped people are shut out of doing daily activities most people take for granted. And you would be really surprised to learn what is and what is not handicapped accessible. Carlsbad Caverns are, but the St. Louis Arch is not.
So what is the one thing I had to say? It is simply this: Fuck MTV. They refused to do a show where Darius's wheelchair got "pimped" out because "they were worried that the accessories would impair his mobility." Bullshit. You want to know why I say this is bullshit? Because a car customizer in Decatur, GA pimped a wheelchair out for Darius instead. So for anyone in the area who is interested head to Full EFX in Decatur, GA because that dude rocks! This isn't a slam against the individuals who actually do the work on Pimp My Ride, on the contrary, when our group of merry men met them they were extremely friendly and totally unaware that the request had even been made. No, it was the suits in the executive offices who decided that they couldn't be bothered to do this amazing thing for this teenager as well as generate positive press for themselves and awareness for a terrible disease. Why would they want to do anything positive when they make so much money off of shows that feature the worst of the worst of teenage American culture?
So if this story pisses you off the way it does me, say it with me! Fuck MTV! Don't ever watch any of their crap programing ever again. Share this story with others so that they too will know, without a doubt, that the people who run MTV are as shallow and superficial as the brats on their shows. And then you should visit Darius Goes West to find out more, or visit Charley's Fund to donate to a non-profit charity that is devoted to funding research for a cure for DMD.