• Emlyn McFarland

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Part 1:The Great Controversy

So my original thought in writing this blog was that it would be a chance to put my ideas and stories out there, express myself without the day-to-day rejection and criticism I experience as an actor. What I actually have done is unwittingly walked right into a brand new genre ripe with it’s own brand of put downs, critiques, “suggestions” and we’re not interested in you’s.

The blog is up and people are reading it and while I should be happy about that all I seem to be doing is focusing on the negative. Now it’s not just blind rejection anymore, it’s far more detailed.

Last week I wrote a post about advice my mom had for me as an actor. In this post I originally used the word “retard” not a nice word I know but a word that none the less gets used, especially by the pre “P.C.” generation, behind closed doors and in private in hushed tones among friends as we giggle at the absolute incorrectness of that word and how naughty we are for using it. Using this word created quite a dust up, I must say. I received a couple of messages from people who did not think I should have used that “r” word and were offended, the majority of which were from a group called “Family Member” (familymemberinc.org) who work to “challenge people who use words that hurt people with disabilities”. My first instinct was to ignore this, as that’s the easiest way to handle things that make me uncomfortable. Then I wanted to quit writing the blog, anything to avoid conflict. I don’t really like controversy and I don’t like upsetting people. I have a habit of wanting to be the person other people want me to be so sometimes it’s easier to be neutral. If I’m neutral I can more easily morph into whatever role needs to be filled. Not wanting to ruffle feathers I wound up changing the post to get the point of the story across but without using the “r” word but now I’m annoyed with myself.

The thing is neutral isn’t real. We are rarely neutral about anything in life and the point of writing this blog is to tell about my real experiences whether they are nice and pretty or not. While I understand and appreciate the mission of organizations like “Family Member” I also don’t like feeling pressure to change my story or the way I tell it to make someone else happy. I was asked specifically to take down the post because it was “mean spirited and insensitive” but I’m not sure it was.

The “r” word was used, that is the way the story happened, I placed the word in quotations not because I was calling someone that name but because it was said to me. I was quoting someone and it was the absurdity of the suggestion or advice from my mom that was funny to me. Is seeing the “r” word in print a bit shocking? Yes I’m aware that it is but so was the entire situation and that was the point I wanted to share. I wanted to share that bizarre and very real situation and I don’t believe in doing that I was hurting anyone or making fun of anyone except maybe my mom who, though she was wrong, was truly yet awkwardly speaking her mind – a mind that although I love it is often bizarre and inappropriate. The story is true and I shared it on a blog about my life, my sometimes strange and not always proper or correct life.

So who knew with my little blog I would suddenly have to deal with political and social correctness and who new my little blog could raise such embroilment. I was not at all ready for that but I am proud to have addressed it instead of running for the hills, which is what I would have liked to have done. I guess this could be considered my first scandal, here’s to facing the heat.

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