The new Guinness commercial
has sparked one of the details I find most beautiful about this life we live and each human being. We are all viewing the same image and coming to very different perspectives creating a priceless opportunity to interweave our views scratching around toward growth, understanding, empathy, kindness, curiosity, insight and change.
I’ve been plundering the riches of timely and articulate threads about this ad on blogs, face book pages, Internet sites and emails of positions on this 30-second, ground-breaker and I’m fascinated. So the “interesting and stimulating comments” you see in quotation marks are not mine and I choose not to use any names because it seems to me a balanced way to examine the kaleidoscope of very valid remarks.
I’m calling this ad a ground-breaker because it’s a mainstream product pushing the envelope on a prodigious adult platform. I’ve seen the commercial for MD-Chillz
ice cream; it’s all about the goodness inside (character trait or lurking charity, you tell me) that has a similar look and feel to this Guinness ad, but not much airtime and it may have been over looked due to its focus on kids. The Guinness ad is a game changer in my book.
I really hope Guinness is watching for the reactions to this commercial, they could learn a lot about their consumer with a disability. We are a consumer that is very, very loyal to a product or a cause we believe in and have strong feelings about the context of how someone with a disability is depicted.
“Charity model” ( "C") was uttered more than once about how the stand up guys or AB’s (acronym for able bodied or people not disabled) were “noble or honorable” for playing wheelchair basketball with the sit down guy. The ad line, “the choices we make revel the true nature of our character” linking this to the big “C” (charity)
Most people I know with disabilities, myself included, find the idea of charity as unacceptable, period. When we want help, we will ask for it, offering help only muddies already murky waters. That old stigma thing ain’t got no swing. I didn’t see that “C” model in the ad. What I saw, well I’ll tell you what I saw a little later.
So, maybe Guinness is watching ;) listening for this voice of 57 million people that have disabilities who have an estimated spending ability of $247 billion dollars and who enjoy an equal opportunity to spend their money as much as anyone else. Guinness wants to sell beer and make money so I hope they are paying attention to the buzzing of strong emotions they’ve stirred up in the beehive. This could possible transfer into dollars for them. Or not.
“Absurd and insulting” came with remarks that no AB’s would buy the equipment to play basketball in wheelchairs. Finding wheelchair basketball equipment readily available to play sports in is a reality. Many cities have recreation programs like the one just down the hill from me, in Reno Nevada, that have plenty of extra chairs for anyone to play ball in.
“That’s phony.” The ad scenario is very believable; there are people that don’t have disabilities that play sports using adaptive equipment. In the late 70’s my boyfriend didn’t have a disability or any need for a wheelchair, he just liked sitting in a wheelchair when hanging out with us, a group of wheelers who sat around anywhere. One time, a bunch of us took part in a dance marathon and everyone used a wheelchair for 24 hours, can you spot the fakers?
“WOW. Check out this Guinness Beer wheelchair basketball commercial. Reminds me of the wheelchair basketball class I took at Michigan State, where I was the only person actually in a chair. Very cool!” Wheelchair basketball as a class in college, I had no idea. This shows how far mainstreaming of adaptive sports has come. Please know I am not so delusional to believe that adaptive sports are flowing into all tributaries of the mainstreaming.
“We are the "prop" then for a feel-good outing by AB beer-drinkers and who are "doing something for" their gimp buddy.” I like to poke the box, thank you Seth Godin
. I like to play the game, what if? So here is the flip for me, please try my glasses on.
The guy that uses a wheelchair full-time, is having the feel good outing, he’s making the choice to be inclusive by teaching his buddies how to play wheelchair basketball. He could get a killer basketball game with a bunch of wheelers, focusing on his own game. But he chooses to take the time to teach a sport and chair handling skills to a bunch of AB’s, not an easy task.
I call this morally sound inclusion when I hear him say, “You guys are getting better at this.”
He’s including them, not the other way around. He’s their mentor showing them another way to play ball, he’s the roll model, pun intended, he’s the Good Samaritan the one showing friendship, loyalty, and dedication. I say they are all heroes in this story by adapting and creating a shared experience that empowers the group, equally.
My feeling is that we, people with disabilities, have been the sworn swordsman of justice and inclusion for so long, fighting bloody battles for a place in this world and viewed as the underdog in these battles that we might miss the possibility that our fellow chevalier, right here before our very eyes, could be producing, directing, staring and controlling this engagement. It could happen, it’s all about the choices we make….
Blessings to All, In Joy, Candace
The music in the Guinness ad is The Cinematic Orchestra - 'To Build A Home'
© 2013 Candace Cable
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