Disability and Representation

Changing the Cultural Conversation

Disabled People As A Test of Character: The Guinness Commercial

Okay, so. Guinness has a rather, shall we say, problematic new ad that features a bunch of guys in wheelchairs playing basketball. And when I say problematic, I mean that it makes me want to mutter expletives under my breath. Watch, listen, and be appalled:

The ad begins with a basketball flying in slow motion above a basket. Repetitive piano music plays – the kind that creates the score for “inspirational” stories of all kinds. The next several seconds of the video show six guys in wheelchairs playing basketball. You see them rolling down the court. Some of them crash into each other, fall over, and get back up. One guy scores a basket and high-fives another guy. Another guy scores a basket. Then, one of the players stands up and say, “You guys are getting better at this! Yeah! Next week, buddy!” Then, all but one of them stand up out of their wheelchairs and head for the exit, with the person in a wheelchair going with them.

The voiceover says, “Dedication. Loyalty. Friendship. The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.”

The ad ends with all of the guys having a Guinness in a bar. The Guiness ad reads “Guinness. Made of More.”

When I first saw this ad, I thought it was just going to be an inspiration-porn kind of thing, with a good serving of “Look at what tough men they are! And they love Guinness! Tough men love Guinness! Even if they’re in wheelchairs! Roar!” Bad enough, but not surprising.

But then one of the guys gets up out of his wheelchair. And I’m all WTF?

And then four more guys get up out of their wheelchairs. And I’m even more all WTF?

So let’s see what we’re supposed to make of this video:

1) Real friends buy expensive lightweight wheelchairs so that they can play basketball with their disabled friends. Is this even a possibility for most people? No. No, it’s not.

2) Real friends (or is it just real men?) can somehow learn how to use a manual wheelchair well enough to play basketball in it. Is this even a possibility for most people? No. No, it’s not.

3) The one disabled person must be called out as an object of charity with “Next week, buddy!” Under no circumstances is anyone to say, “Next week, everyone!” Because, apparently, the other five guys just showed up for the disabled guy’s sake, not because they all wanted to play basketball together. Awesome.

4) Disabled people must be called “buddy.” Apparently, this is affectionate. If you’re five.

5) Including a disabled person become an opportunity to show what fine, noble, humanitarian people we are.

What can I say? If “the choices we make reveal the true nature of our character,” and we choose to make a disabled person the occasion for humanitarian sentiments by calling him out as an object of charity with a diminutive generally reserved for children — well, that makes our choices very suspect indeed, doesn’t it?

Look. The strange and surreal nature of the whole commercial aside, its message is about inclusion, and that would be great, except that the message is being handled in all of the wrong ways. Not only is the charity model so very, very outdated, but the whole idea of putting people on a pedestal for being inclusive is tiresome.

Including people is the right thing to do. Period. It’s not a test of character. It’s not an opportunity for humanity and heroism. It’s just basic ethics. Very basic. Very ordinary. Very pedestrian. No big deal. No need to put it on a billboard. No need to construct a commercial around it.

Inclusion is just another word for basic human rights. 

Violating basic human rights? That shows something about your character.

Supporting basic human rights? That’s just something you’re supposed to do.

© 2013 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

Share

  1. 9/4/2013 | 4:06 am Permalink

    This style of ad was used in Asia in the late 90’s for a phone network, But saying this how you want to see the ad in your own way, i see it as 6 mates that has a disabled “mate” that support there mate in what he likes to do, and having that friend that is disabled just shows he’s not just that tag along friend you have to worry about if the building is wheelchair friendly. and having a group of friends that actually want to challenge there friend then mucking around in the chair is good, as you would know there is alot of sporting clubs that have disabled sporting equipment for the use of others. the local team i play with has 4 spare chairs yes I’m able bodied but my mate needed a player for his team and i just got into playing every wednesday night with the team, would i look back and change my mine of what im doing?? No i guess it’s good sometimes my mate see’s me as a equal as we are both sitting.

  2. 9/4/2013 | 6:16 am Permalink

    FYI

    The CWBL Open Division is a fully integrated league, featuring male and female athletes with and without a disability playing together in a spirit of competition and camaraderie.
    http://www.wheelchairbasketball.ca/CWBL_Open_Division.aspx

  3. 9/4/2013 | 6:17 am Permalink

    Able-bods do play wheelchair basketball, up to State and National level (in Australia, and likely in other countries), and it makes sense for them all to play in chairs, to include their friend. These AB players are extremely skilled in using their basketball chairs.

    Isn’t “Buddy” a generic expression, like “mate”?

    And inclusion isn’t always automatic. It would be a more usual scenario to see the wheelie mate watching the others playing AB basketball.

  4. 9/4/2013 | 8:38 am Permalink

    Wow, y’all, this is REALLY interesting to hear that able-bodied people play wheelchair basketball. That’s rather amazing to me, truly. So I stand corrected on that.

    I stand by my points about the framing, however, which is the main part of my critique. I don’t like this sort of inclusion being seen as a form of nobility or high character. An act of friendship, sure. No problem there. That’s how it should be.

  5. 9/4/2013 | 4:49 pm Permalink

    I was glad to see the AB guys didn’t go to the bar and leave their wheelchair user colleague behind on the court…

    • 9/4/2013 | 5:21 pm Permalink

      I hear you.

  6. 9/4/2013 | 5:03 pm Permalink

    After reading your synopsis of the commercial, I watched it a couple more times. The guy wearing the black t-shirt is the “real” crip (no clue as to whether he’s really a real crip). He’s also the guy who says “Hey, you guys are getting better at this”. So he’s the authority giving his AB friends props for improving at his game.

    I think.

    • 9/4/2013 | 5:21 pm Permalink

      Oh, wow. You’re right. The camera angle they use for him is so low — and did not include his wheelchair — so that I thought he was standing up. I hadn’t realized he was the guy who actually needed the wheelchair. The way the scene was shot is pretty interesting. I’m really, really visually attuned and I didn’t catch that he was sitting down at all.

  7. 9/4/2013 | 6:01 pm Permalink

    Im surprised about the analysis and the angle you did of the commercial and the message. My daughter is in a wheelchair and we experience a lot of barries daily, sometimes at the parking lot. When you want to see a movie…where did you seat? Have you noticed where they asked the people with wheelchairs to stay? Sometimes the shopping malls doesnt have automatic entrance. There is a lot of messages that has to be send one way or another to create conciousness. A young guy who wants to play and is in a wheelchair has to reach a group of similar conditions? Dont know…I respect your opinion but I disagree because the message is not what you think it is.

  8. 9/4/2013 | 6:13 pm Permalink

    I just think that the ad is great. I wish that I had some friends like that. I don’t think the guy in the wheelchair is being used as a symbol, if he is, then he is used as a symbol of what is right withe the world. The guys are ralling around a friend and supoorting him. In response to the line about buying wheelchairs, I say, bullocks. I bet you can rent those things. I like the ad, it is a good ad, and to say to the contrary is just not right.

  9. 9/4/2013 | 8:24 pm Permalink

    I think some guys do use “buddy” generically. And considering that the guy in the wheelchair went to the bar with the others, he’s clearly a friend and not a charity case. Let’s not overthink this.

    • 9/4/2013 | 9:59 pm Permalink

      It’s not about the guys in the wheelchairs. It’s about the framing. With the sound off, the message is “friends playing basketball.” With the sound on, the message is “Able-bodied guys show what great character they have by playing basketball with their disabled friend.” Just substitute a person of a different race for the disabled guy and tell me how well that plays.

      And please, don’t tell me I’m overthinking things. Seriously. Don’t go there with me. If you disagree with something I write, fine. Feel free to tell me why. But stay away from telling me how my head is working, especially with the use of the royal “we.”

      • 9/5/2013 | 8:14 am Permalink

        I respectfully disagree with your opinion of the framing. I would also like to address each of your points:

        1) Real friends buy expensive lightweight wheelchairs so that they can play basketball with their disabled friends. Is this even a possibility for most people? No. No, it’s not.

        In the U.S. there are over 260 Paralympic Sport Clubs and over 200 registered NWBA teams that have an equipment inventory available for people to use. To my knowledge all welcome friends and family members to participate in practices. From an NWBA perspective, we would love to see players friends take an interest in playing sitting down with their friends with a disability that play. While it is true that most would not purchase their own chair to do so the reality is that it is not necessary to do so in many places across the country.

        2) Real friends (or is it just real men?) can somehow learn how to use a manual wheelchair well enough to play basketball in it. Is this even a possibility for most people? No. No, it’s not.

        I think we can all agree this statement shows a complete lack of knowledge of the sport. Many countries including Canada, Australia and Germany welcome people without disabilities to play non a national level and it is something that is often discussed within the NWBA. I can hold my own in a chair because I have put time and effort into developing the skill. There are many others in the countries that include everyone in the sport that are much better than me.

        One of the myths the disability community has to overcome is the thought that PWD cannot benefit from regular physical activity and/or develop athletic skills through continual practice. How can we fight that myth and then assert that a person without a disability could not develop the same skills a person with a disability can?

        3) The one disabled person must be called out as an object of charity with “Next week, buddy!” Under no circumstances is anyone to say, “Next week, everyone!” Because, apparently, the other five guys just showed up for the disabled guy’s sake, not because they all wanted to play basketball together. Awesome.

        To me this is a clear indication the author is looking for something to criticize. This is just how guys talk. It is evident to me this group of friends has a standing weekly game, they are new to the sport and looking to get better in order t give the PWD an actual challenge when playing and at the same time more fully enjoy the experience by getting better each week. How is this not an ideal situation?

        4) Disabled people must be called “buddy.” Apparently, this is affectionate. If you’re five.

        Again, there is simply a disconnect between this author and how guys interact with each other in competitive situations. This language has no bearing on the presence of a disability. I compete weekly in an individual sport with 20-30 competitors who do not have a disability and we are classified by skill level. Each week, whoever finishes second or third in our division offers the same challenge, “Next week buddy.” Any adjective that would have been used in lieu of a proper name would most likely have garnered ridicule.

        Additionally, this emphasizes the PWD as the expert in the sport and the people without a disability as trying to catch up and become as skilled as the PWD through weekly games.

        5) Including a disabled person become an opportunity to show what fine, noble, humanitarian people we are.

        Did the commercial overreach in this area, possibly. However, we should all be so lucky to have a group of friends to take time out each week to play a sport in a purely recreational setting where the only rewards are physical activity and camaraderie. Not many of us choose to leave our comfort zone and try something new in the name of friendship. This group did and those that do, no matter what the context, are a cut above.

        All in all I would admit the commercial was on the inspirational side but being a person without a disability who can play wheelchair basketball, does own his own chair, a NWBA Board member and a consumer of Guinness, I loved the commercial. I think it showed a reality we would be lucky to have across the nation, one where inclusion is the norm, and made me think once again about the benefits of allowing people without disability to compete on NWBA teams on a national level.

        An interesting question came to mind after reading the article, would the author have had the same reaction if people without disability had been part of the NWBA as players for the last 20 years? Most likely not. If that is the case, who has really failed here? Guinness in the content of the commercial or wheelchair basketball in the U.S. for the scenario depicted in the commercial not being commonplace?

        • 9/5/2013 | 5:35 pm Permalink

          Did the commercial overreach in this area, possibly. However, we should all be so lucky to have a group of friends to take time out each week to play a sport in a purely recreational setting where the only rewards are physical activity and camaraderie. Not many of us choose to leave our comfort zone and try something new in the name of friendship. This group did and those that do, no matter what the context, are a cut above.

          This is where we disagree most deeply. When it comes to PWDs (or anyone in any excluded group), it should not be a matter of being “lucky.” And no, people who include us are not “a cut above.” The people who exclude us are a cut below what human beings ought to be doing as a baseline. I am tired, tired, tired of being grateful for people including me. I’m a person. Why should they not include me? I always hesitate to use the word “entitled,” but I will use it in this context, because inclusion is a basic human right: we are all entitled to be included. All of us. The voiceover implies that it’s a favor bestowed upon us by those with good character, rather than something we’re obligated to give one another. That’s my problem with it.

          The visuals for this commercial are fantastic. I am so glad to see disabled sports being represented. Truly. But if all of the players had actually been disabled and then gone out for a Guinness, that would have been far more effective. Because then the one person’s disability would not have been called out as an opportunity for a moral lesson. The minute the other five guys stood up, the whole scenario changed. They became heroes because they put themselves in wheelchairs. I’ve had enough of that kind of thinking.

          As for who has really failed here? I don’t think it has anything to do with the NWBA. It was to do with the framing of the commercial by the people who made it. Their attitude is that it is a sign of nobility to include disabled people. That is anathema to me.

          • 9/6/2013 | 6:30 am Permalink

            But if all of the players had actually been disabled and then gone out for a Guinness, that would have been far more effective.

            Obviously this is a matter of opinion, but for my part I feel very differently. To be honest, if the commercial was just showing disabled men playing basketball, I would have complained the ad was patronizing. In fact, that was my attitude up until the end, that the company was going for some feel-good ad where they pat themselves on the back for reminding the public how darn capable paraplegics can be. The only reason I stuck with the ad was that someone had recommended it, and I was curious as to why.

            I felt the message was stronger they way they did it. It’s not so much the “character” of the friends, or a feeling that we’re supposed to hang medals on them for nobly “including” their disabled buddy (which by the way did not strike me as a belittling term); it’s the feeling that is was no big deal. That there was a normalcy to them figuring out a way to level the playing field on the basketball court, then playing without an audience, with the same competitive nature they would on any court, and then they grab a beer later. Simple, normal, no big deal. Which is the world I want disabled individuals to inhabit.

          • 9/6/2013 | 8:31 am Permalink

            Klay, I understand what you’re saying here. I should clarify: It’s not that I don’t want commercials to show disabled and nondisabled people together. Of course, I do. It’s that, in the context of this commercial, the five players standing up was a jarring moment. It wasn’t jarring because there is anything wrong with able-bodied people playing wheelchair basketball; it was jarring because it signaled a turning point in the whole tenor of the ad. In the beginning, we see six guys in wheelchairs playing basketball. My only complaint is that the sappy music makes it look “inspirational.” The visual itself does not. But then when the guys get up, we realize that we’ve been seeing something else entirely, and that the intent was never to show a bunch of disabled guys playing basketball at all. It was to show a bunch of able-bodied guys doing a good deed for their disabled friend. So given the mindset of the people who made the film, I would have preferred that they just kept it to six disabled guys playing basketball and having a beer, because that would have kept them far, far away from turning the whole thing into a moral lesson.

  10. 9/4/2013 | 10:59 pm Permalink

    First, I’d like to welcome the writer to begin using people first language. Most advocates for people with disabilities would agree that a disability doesn’t define a person. Therefore defining someone as a disabled person confines them to their disability rather than their own abilities. In my own opinion of how the ad plays out, I see it as a rather impressive statement on masculinity and friendship. It breaks down the barriers between those with disabilities and those without by allowing the viewer to assume that what they are initially watching is a simple game of wheelchair basketball. Through the course of the ad I see an authentic level of competitiveness followed by the realization that almost all of these men aren’t in need of the wheelchair. What I then see is the simple fact that these men took themselves out of their comfort zone (I’ve played wheelchair basketball man times and let me just say, I’m much better on my feet) and spent time with a friend who required different needs. To me, this ad was a testament to real friendship. It didn’t need focus on the man in the wheelchair if you didn’t allow it to. If all that was taken from this ad was that there are men in wheelchairs and there are men on their feet, you missed the message entirely. It’s about friends supporting friends. I’m sure that if you changed the context of the ad (straight allies supporting their homosexual friends, friends of different ancestry supporting different cultures, etc) then you would still see the same message: friendship.

    • 9/5/2013 | 2:54 am Permalink

      Jesus, I’d like to make it very clear that, as a multiply disabled person, I do not welcome anyone advising me about what terminology to use. I prefer identity-first language (disabled person). Other disabled people prefer person-first language (person with disabilities). The disability community is a very diverse place and there is room for everyone’s preferences. Terminology is a matter of personal choice that no one else should dictate. Most of the people in the disability community with whom I work prefer identity-first language, but I would never insist that everyone use it.

      You are welcome to use person-first language here. I will never tell you that you can’t. But you are not welcome to suggest that other people do the same.

      • 9/5/2013 | 8:01 am Permalink

        While you may prefer identity first language it promotes the idea to the masses that disability is what defines people.

        • 9/5/2013 | 2:19 pm Permalink

          Dan, if you took the time to read anything else I’ve written, you’d understand why I dislike person-first language. I’m not going to re-explain it here. In any case, as I’ve said, I’m not open to being told what terminology to use on my own blog. I’m disabled, I’m a writer, I think very hard about things, and I have good reasons for my decisions. Anyone is welcome to use any terminology they want here, and they are welcome to explain why they use it. They are not welcome to tell other people that their terminology is wrong.

        • 9/6/2013 | 1:33 pm Permalink

          Oh for goodness sakes couldn’t you even be bothered to google this before you mouthed off? Man. She’s written extensively on this, as have scores of other people. You are trying to educate her on Disability 101 (incorrectly, I might add) when she’s teaching the 8000 level course.

  11. 9/5/2013 | 6:57 am Permalink

    So basically, you watched this commercial once, didn’t give it a chance, and then ranted about it for all the wrong reasons? I am actually shocked you reacted the way you did. This commercial is not at all how you put it and I think you should watch it about 10 more times.

    • 9/5/2013 | 2:15 pm Permalink

      Kat, I watched the commercial several times. I am human. I make mistakes, and I am open to them being corrected, as I have shown in this thread. It’s called having a discussion in which you learn and acknowledge error. It’s quite rare on the Internet, so perhaps that’s why the process wasn’t clear to you.

      As I’ve said more than once, my point about the framing stands. It is quite frustrating that so few people are addressing that.

      In any case, Kat, you don’t get to come here and take a potshot at me for being a person. Sorry. This will be the last comment you’ll be leaving on this blog.

    • 9/6/2013 | 8:04 am Permalink

      I know Rachel and I bet she watched that insipid commercial more times than I can imagine. I am shocked by your reaction as it appears to be devoid of reason. Maybe you could explain why your views differ so much.

  12. 9/5/2013 | 9:13 am Permalink

    As a person with a genetic metabolic disorder that primarily wrecks the bones, I was very impressed with the ad and went looking for it on google finding and interested in your site.

    I could have stood up and walked out, as far as the car perhaps, with a cane. But I could not have hung out in a crowd where everyone was standing, much less have played basketball. I could not have actually played the basketball in any case as my shoulder is as bad as my legs, but I get what the Ad is about and was quite hurt by your take on it.

    As “semi” disabled I do get it from all sides, as somehow faking it, or as far worse than it is, and no appreciation for the less visible effects, of extreme fatigue and mental issues similar to aspergers, and other bits less noticeable, but not in keeping with anyone’s prejudices and expectations.(the disease is fairly rare)

    You did point out in the comments that there are aspects of wheelchair basketball you were unaware of (I was not either)but I hope that you also will not be jumping to conclusions just as you would ask the same of others. I am known among friends as not reacting much to any situation (being cool?)but it is a lifetime of learning that nearly every situation is far more complicated than it first appears, and often very different than I thought.

    I had wanted to share the video everywhere, but will not do so now as I see how it can be seen by some.

  13. 9/5/2013 | 2:22 pm Permalink

    SO frustrated by the comments on this piece. No one has addressed your main point, which is: this piece is showing people being basically decent human beings and acting like they all deserve a medal. Being friends with a disabled person and immersing yourself in his world for a game of basketball before you get a pint (okay if I use the language I want, Jesus?) does not show you have ‘strength of character.’ It shows you are adhering to the most basic of requirements of being a somewhat decent person. CHRIST ALMIGHTY. The tone of this ad was utterly wretched, and whinging about ‘mates’ and ‘buddies’ and saying you believe custom-made chairs worth thousands of dollars are probably easily rentable (they aren’t) are just poking little pinpricks at Rachael while ignoring her main point completely. MADDENING.

    • 9/5/2013 | 2:29 pm Permalink

      THANK YOU, Haddayr. It’s quite amazing the way in which the main point has been lost. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that people were angry that I’ve criticized a beer commercial. :-)

  14. 9/5/2013 | 4:12 pm Permalink

    Rachel, I am impressed with the shit storm you created. I looked at the ad and thought, weird and did not give it another thought. Well, I can say as a former wheelchair basketball in my youth, I played on Hofstra university team the Rolling Dutchmen, and it was great fun. What I recall the most was that other people that had far less significant disabilities played. In fact i was stunned when most of the team showed up walking and pushing their wheelchair. Much has changed since I played. Universities no longer have teams–exceptions exist. The wheelchairs are vastly different. Rules have changed too. But what i recall the most was the fun I had.
    One final comment, the long comment from Dan is typical of overly committed adaptive athletes. He is too involved in details of sport to see beyond the party line,

    • 9/5/2013 | 4:43 pm Permalink

      Thanks, Bill. I’d not meant to create a shitstorm. I was just doing what I do: analyzing media and social experience from a disability perspective.

      Party lines are so not my thing. As you can imagine, that sometimes makes my critiques rather unwelcome.

      • 9/6/2013 | 8:11 am Permalink

        The ableist bull shit and flak you are taking is akin to what i get at Bad Cripple when I discuss the cure industry or negative impact of supposedly “inspiring” imagery. I was especially struck by the comments by Dan. I know many men like him full of self importance because they are involved and dedicated to adaptive sports. Great to be dedicated but there is an utter failure to see the larger social significance of disability. That is disability is as Bob Murphy noted a social disease. I would suggest when I see the mainstream media cover adaptive sports to the same extent they cover the NFL, NBA, NHL equality will have been achieved. Why Dan does not even acknowledge the most recent Paralympic games held in London were not aired on TV in the USA. Great to have many wheelchair basketball teams but they exist in a social vacuum. The same can be said for the sports I enjoy participating in–skiing, biking and kayaking.

  15. 9/5/2013 | 9:25 pm Permalink

    I’ve had a bit more of a ponder on this one and will be discussing it with my 10yo who uses a wheelchair and has very significant physical disabilities to get his take on it.

    However, I do disagree with points 3 & 4 about the use of ‘buddy’ in this instance. Where I come from “next week buddy” is very much part of the sporting language and essentially is “the laying down of a challenge” ie the non-disabled person in this instance has responded to the suggestion he is getting better by suggesting he will be good enough to win next week. That is all that I can read into the ‘next week buddy’ because that is exactly how even I (being female) would use it to my son, my sister, my husband, my mate, my colleague if I was suggesting I was going to beat them at something in the near future – or I was jokingly suggesting that I was going to be better than them at something (even sarcastically). I would absolutely say “next week buddy, next week” as they would back to me.
    So I wonder if that phrase doesn’t translate – because as an Aussie I have certainly a very different take on the intention of that language to what you have described.

    The ad in my opinion would have been far worse if it was just 5 guys in wheelchairs… where does that leave my son? with the message that he can only play and socialise with other disabled people? What about his mates? why can’t they play what he can play? And what message does it send the broader community, who for the most part (in our experience), embrace the idea of “special places and activities for people like that” – I actually think the visuals in this ad are fantastic.

    I think I do agree the voice over/tagline was a step too far (i don’t like the “dedication and loyalty” bit) but I know there’s still plenty of people who, despite my son being part of their world, will still “choose” to build a house with steps that he can’t get into, or rent a place that’s inaccessible, or choose a restaurant that he can’t access, or play a game he can’t be part of – an inclusive mindset certainly isn’t innate in our society yet. If I was writing the ad my tag line would simply be “Friendship – Guinnessworthy”

    It also gave me pause to consider a recent event. My son’s mates (9 & 10yos) have made an invention for his wheelchair so he can play handball with them (all their own ideas) – do I think they are more awesome (and of better character) than the people who don’t consider my son part of their world – you bet I do. Hell, I’ll probably buy them a Guinness when they are old enough ;-)

    Despite its shortcomings from a disability/framing/analysis perspective it is still something I would consider using in an IEP meeting to change that mindset amongst educators and show that able bodied people can still have a ripping good time if the sport is an inclusive sport – I might just do it with the audio off …

    Thanks as always for starting the ball rolling on us thinking about these things – it’s not often I find myself disagreeing with you, so thanks for the opportunity for me to really have a good look at why I like it and why you don’t.
    Cheers
    Gina

  16. 9/6/2013 | 10:52 am Permalink

    As someone with an extremely disabled nephew (who can only move his fingers and thus is left out of almost everything) I took a completely different message away. Not that the friends are “Heroes” for finding a way to include their disabled friend, but that the rest of us fall short daily in what should be our top priority- “bringing heaven down to earth” and constantly looking for ways to serve others. (Disabled or not). It’s easy to serve others when they are much like yourself. Serving others with different needs and abilities is much more challenging and therefor must be an intentional act.
    I totally understand where Rachel is coming from- I just watched this ad from the framing of being convicted- a reminder that the guys portrayed in the ad are not heroes- it is me who is depraved.

  17. 9/6/2013 | 12:05 pm Permalink

    Hi Rachel, nice to see another one of us in IT. *waves*

    I actually feel this is best commercial in some time. I disagree, I believe the framing worked well and represented the disabled in a non-condescending manner… which is a rarity. I see this not as a commercial about disability, but friendship… dedicated and loyal to one another based on pure, simple friendship. Guinness could have taken the same music and narration, and used literally anyone to express the same message.

    By the way, four of them are disabled (watch their gait)… I have met them, spoken to Joshua and Steve about joining the team, attended one of their league games and a practice. They play for the Rolling Bears at Loma Linda University near San Bernardino, CA.

    As others have stated, and of course you have always known… many disabled that use wheelchairs and play adaptive wheelchair sports, do walk. Amputees (no, none of these guys in the commercial are amps… they were all wearing shorts, so you could see they were not), arthritic conditions, Ataxia, MD, MS, Scoliosis, or 1000 other conditions that could qualify them as disabled but still be able to walk “normally” to the untrained eye (trained meaning physicians, nurses, therapists, orthotists & prosthetists specifically experienced in rehabilitative care).

    Myself, I am a low-level, high-functioning L3/L4 incomplete para. I use bi-lateral AFOs (short leg braces), and a wheelchair for long distances or when walking is not important. When I have both braces on, well rested, and long pants on… the average person has no clue that I am a paraplegic. Yes, for 32 years I get questioned frequently about it.

    The beauty of this commercial and it’s framing is about who you are, not what you are. It doesn’t ask or tell you to cater to someone “less” able, who is able or not, able or disabled enough or the same way. It shows a group of friends some disabled and some not, having a pickup game of b-ball and a beer… and only their friendship mattered.

    Interesting discussion. Hopefully see you at one of the Abilities Expo shows.

    • 9/7/2013 | 1:34 am Permalink

      I hated this ad until I read Luis’ comment. Then I started thinking, maybe this is a cutting edge representation that we are just not ready to see….
      … but I don’t think it is. There is the manifestation of disabled sport out there, that people have argued about in the comments, but reading Luis’ account of personal experience of the people featured, this is not an inclusive team, it’s a team of disabled athletes.
      But the ad has been framed so it’s not read in this way, and, there is no signposting to indicate that everyone on the team has disabilities, and there is a ‘reveal’ that suggests that four don’t.
      The commercial society have filed the ad under ‘twist ending’. If we know Luis’ version, then there is no twist ending.
      Those making the ad have chosen to present the twist ending and highlighted it with the inspirational music and commentary.
      It’s about use/consumption of images of disability, right? If you use someone instantly recognisable, like Usain Bolt or Jessica Ennis, there is no need to caption who they are. I think disabled athlete Ellie Simmonds may be instantly recognisable, but I can’t think of other disabled athletes where this is the case- I think people would be hard pushed to distinguish, say Oscar Pistorius, from another athelete running with prosthetics.
      To communicate what Luis sees in the ad, it would have taken a caption to indicate who the team is. If it’s there, I don’t see it.
      Ad people know what they are doing. They don’t accidentally leave the possibility of a different interpretation.
      The way in which the notion of disability, inclusion, friendship, and Luis’ notion of the team have been used- it sucks.

  18. 9/7/2013 | 4:03 pm Permalink

    Why google sent me here is a mystery to me but having read the comments I am compelled to ad my own.
    I disagree, quite stridently in fact. Normally I would offer some rhetoric about my opinions, but they way you warn people off and then berate their choices, it looks more like a bully pulpit than a discourse. It is your blog and your right.
    If you look for fault, you will find it.
    My response to the commercial was positive. I believe any Veteran, especially one the age of the men in the commercial, would get this commercial. I cannot imagine any recent Veteran finding the fault you found, Rachel. I could be mistaken. But if I have to explain this further, I believe that I would be wasting my time.

    • 9/7/2013 | 4:29 pm Permalink

      Bully pulpit? Moi? This blog is one of the few places on the Internet in which people are not allowed to bully or berate one another. Argument is not bullying and having an opinion is not berating. If you would like to join in the discussion and add your viewpoint, I’m happy to entertain it. As you’ll notice from the comments, I’m quite willing to acknowledge error and have no problem explaining positions I hold. Saying simply that you disagree and that it’s a waste of your time to explain why is passive-aggressive, at best.

      “If you look for fault, you will find it.”

      Looks like you’ve just done the same. Why did you even waste your time leaving this comment when you’d already decided it was a waste of time to leave a comment?

  19. Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  20. Guinness: Wheelchair Basketball, With A Twist | Commercial Society

    […] about the importance of friendship and inclusion. Some are finding that message to be troubling, including this blogger who has a well-written response about why she is not a fan, to put in mildly. So what do you […]

  21. I Am Now Officially a Bitter Crip! | Disability and Representation | Changing the Cultural Conversation

    […] then I wrote a piece about a beer commercial and… Wow! You should see the comments I got! Some of them actually made it out of moderation […]