Disfigured in Public? Hell, Yes

Laurie and Debbie say:

Roger Ebert, well-known film critic, has salivary gland cancer. In an attempt to save his life, doctors have removed a substantial chunk of his jawbone. So far, two surgeries to reconstruct it have failed.

While he waits for a third surgery, the film festival he sponsors at the University of Illinois at Urbana is coming up. Great! Something for him to take his mind off his jaw. His life has to be pretty demanding at this point.

It should be that simple. But it’s not.

I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the Festival. I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc.

It’s well known that disfigurement, above all other ways that people can look, makes the lookers uncomfortable. And it’s well known that discomfort makes some people cruel. That doesn’t matter. The film festival should welcome Ebert with open arms. Their press booth should make it clear that any journalist who writes about or photographs Ebert freakishly will be barred from further attendance.

Ebert has the right attitude: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.”

Got it. But he shouldn’t have to. And what’s more, we give him enormous credit. He’s not only doing this for himself; he’s doing it for every disfigured person who needs to walk out of her front door in peace.

Thanks to Lynn Kendall for the link.

Roger Ebert, film, cancer, disfigurement, disability, body image, Body Impolitic