Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NF2 on House

When I sit down on Monday nights to watch House I expect to be mildly insulted and wickedly entertained. Unfortunately last night I was just shocked by the amount of ignorance spread by the writer's of the show. The episode centered around a young deaf wrestler who falls to the ground with exploding sensations in his head. After a bit of investigating he is diagnosed with "NF2 cancer" and told treatment would be relatively simple, and that afterward he may regain his hearing which he lost at age 4. Throughout the show the boy is referred to as an idiot and insulted repeatedly for being a well adjusted deaf child. At one point during a simple brain biopsy House directs Chase to put in a Cochlear Implant, without any planning or a specialist. It was actually hilarious. The boy wakes up and House is in his hospital room tuning his CI as he begins to awaken. He can immediately hear the tiniest of sounds, and within hours is asking if his speech sounds slurred as he hears his deaf girlfriend for the first time. He looks at her pitifully as she walks away. House is excused from forcing this contraption onto an unwilling patient because he "did the idiot a favor" by providing him with hearing. I expect that sort of belligerence from House, but even the other characters mirrored his viewpoint. The deaf boy was called an idiot and a moron repeatedly, and at the end when he is touched to hear his name on his Mother's voice he accepts his new gift and all is supposedly well.

I can deal with the fact that House is a fictional show, and not known for medical accuracy. How can they disregard the potential ignorance they are spreading about NF2 though? I do not have cancer, now all of my friends who watch House are probably thinking oh lord she has cancer! Should I be expecting muffin baskets? (Probably not.) When you are deafened by NF2 removing the tumors does not bring your hearing back, and may in fact also cause facial paralysis and disequilibrium. So aside from the general ignorance of NF2, the attack on Deaf Culture was nothing short of hurtful. There were not a handful of tongue in cheek remarks, the episode was a nonstop diatribe about the stupidity of Deaf people to stay hearing impaired when there are supposedly magical implants that can fix anyone. These implants rarely work on people with NF2, and I already deal with people on a daily basis who treat me with disdain and contempt, as though it's my own fault I am deaf. Thank you House for further increasing the misconceptions of deaf people, and causing all of us Deaf to turn off our TVs feeling like we just got beat up in gym class. For a show that generates millions of dollars in profit, you would think they could afford a medical fact checker, or at least a writer with enough common sense to write a witty joke without being bigoted toward an entire culture of people. The show had a chance to be a platform for the deaf, and instead reminded most of us exactly why many Deaf don't want anything to do with the hearing world.

17 comments:

Jamie Berke said...

Did the dialogue actually use the word "idiot?" I didn't see the show so I'm asking. I also just updated my blog posting at Deafness.About.com to add a link to your blog posting.

RLM said...

Thanks very much for alerting us about FOX-TV's "House' tv programming engaged in shameful medical idiocy and irresponsible representation of unrealistic stuff.

We ought to boycott the FOX-TV since it refuses to air President Obama's upcoming prime time speech.

Who the f**k the FOX's "House' producers and writers think?

RLM

Diane Plassey said...

Way to go, girl! Take that and that again, TV producers! This show could be held up as a shining example of moronic TV writing. Keep on running!

Anonymous said...

Livs,
I completely understand why you are upset, but you must remember you watch the show and I am sure have believed many of the "treatments," "disease courses,"references" regarding the stability and emotions of patients depicted right along. This time it hit home as you DO know about this disease.

So the lesson to be learned is that it is nothing more than a TV show and we all need to regard it as such and investigate the truth behind the stories.

If you haven't already, I would suggest that you go to the show's website and state your case there and see if you get a response.

Olivia Hernandez said...

Yes he specifically said idiot as well as moron.

Anonymous not sure who you are but I did just contact Fox and politely stated that I was insulted, and listed the exact reasons why, while also saying I understand it is a fictional medical drama, but that doesn't excuse the barrage of ignorance.

poweron said...

At least, there is one character who defend by knowledge about deaf culture is Thirteen.

gomillion and one... said...

I love house and would watch it no matter what idiocy it presents. You know me Olivia....its just a TV show....its not real life!

Anonymous said...

Hello, A friend of mine told me he had to leave the VP with me so he can watch House RE:CI. He was from another State, so I had to wait an hour to watch it. I find it a "Typical House". It was a little funny and I was not offended. Because other people's reaction were "real world type", so I understood it well and appreciate the honesty.

I was rather caught off guard when House ordered the CI during a biopsy and blamed it on shoddy paperwork.

It was not House that tried to tune up the CI as the boy woke up, it was the blonde hair man,(forgot his name) the one that was poisoned by strawberry lotion at the end of the show.
I give this show three thumbs up out of five.
Ben

Rebecca said...

Hey! Thanks for writing about this! A friend on facebook told me that "House" had a show with a deaf kid that has NF2 cancer. Stunned that they mentioned NF2, I had wondered if maybe there was confusion that all brain tumors are cancer and if the show was about a deaf kid with brain cancer. I have never seen the show before but I was going to ask if any of you on the crew knew anything about it.

That is ABSOLUTELY disgusting that they spread such misconception about our disorder. Great! Now are all these people going to think I am a damn "idiot" for choosing to be deaf and not fix myself with a CI? (eye roll) Just freaking lovely!

As fundraisers for the disorder, this is even more maddening because now people will believe it is no big deal and you only lose your hearing which can be easily fixed. NOT!

I think all of us with NF2 should write them a letter informing them of how serious the disorder actually is (like I face the possiblility of freaking dying during another surgery in the next few months or WORSE.....a stroke that I do not recover from). We should petition them to publicly admit that they portrayed erronous information about the disorder and as an apology, they broadcast a brief intro about what NF2 actually is before the episode and then redo an episode depicting what a REAL situation with NF2 is like. I am serious! This is an opportunity for us to make a big impression and spread awareness CORRECTLY.

Please pass this along with to the crew and ask for assistance. I am busy this week with things I need to take care of before I leave friday for Oregon. Sunday I run the Eugene, OR for NF2 (first marathon where we will be represented in in the NW region of the country.

This is a tremendous opportunity for us. Let's grab the opportunity. Anyone know how we get a massage to the producers of "House"?

Rebecca said...

I have never seen the show and after the friend commented about it on facebook for all to see, I asked what "House" was assuming it was some kind of show. I then inquired if it was fictional or not (wondering if it was some sort of documentary).

Annonymous, even though the show is fictional, it does lead people to believe what is happening.

Star Trek is ficional but the producers have made every effort to use accurate facts when characters discuss technolgy. It is not pulled out of their rear end. They know that fans take it very seriously and they therefore provide realistic info
a) to not look like idiots and give their show some credibility
b) to not assume their viewers are mindless idiots and
c) to not insult "real" science.

NF2 is a very rare disorder which is not easy to live with and in great need of more support. We need funding for more research to find a drug therapy to stop tumor growth as surgery and radiation have not been solutions. Each have carry serious risks and side effects that are often permanent and in the end, it does not stop the tumors from growing. Did you know that 2 young people died of complications with NF2 within the last 6 months (age 17 and 33)? So it is very serious and not something as simple as the show depicted it to be. Hence, they insulted all those who suffer with NF2 as they have led people to believe it is a simple disorder which is not too important to support as the show protrayed "it can be fixed easily".

Olivia and I are among the very few with the ability to be an NF2 athlete for our cause in the country. Further, we are among a small number of fundraisers for this cause in the country. We work hard both in training our bodies and spreading awareness/fundraising. The fundraising is very challenging as people do not know the disorder well, do not understand how serious it can be, and are not eager to support it. If many people watched the show (even if it is fictional) that is the info they were delivered about NF2 so why would they not believe it? The image protrayed is very damaging to those of us working very hard to convince people of a different story of NF2.

Olivia has been very personally touched by the disorder by watching her mother suffer with NF2 and pass away at a young age.
What "House" did, undoes everything we work so hard for and very hurtful to those who have lost a loved one from the disorder or those who have had their quality of life severely compromised. Further, they also contributed to a bias against deaf culture and encouraged the continuation of belief by the hearing culture that deaf are inferior.

Fictional or not, these are really harmful and erronous views of the disorder and deaf culture which are counterproductive. There was just simply no reason for them to create such an episode and to be unjust.

Anonymous said...

Hi,a NF2 patient brought us a fantanstic news that her latest MRI report shows that the tomors shrink after taking the Bio30 for 14 months.I have taken it 2 years and the tumors are stable.

Let's keep taking it !!

Joe Gunn said...

House has referred more generally to NF before and ever time it has absolutely no basis in reality. It's bad enough the mainstream media is so terrible about getting the facts right, but now our "entertainment" is confusing things even more.

Anonymous said...

And what's worse is that it makes people like Sudrin (http://sudrin.livejournal.com/968069.html) think the whole issue is just some hollywood gimmick. So sad

Jurgen said...

I'm just watching the show here in Belgium and my habbit of checking film stuff while whatching led me to this site. I wanted to know about NF2. First hit in google, not much about NF2 but who an idiot character calls an idiot. Not sure why the writers chose the word idiot as it has no relevance in sensory capacities. It seems the good guy in a american soap is only allowed to be rude to someone when its shows it was a just call? Not sure if I would be offended by some character that has hallucinations about his dead wife who uses him to kill his colleague... idiot.
Keep up the pride, running mommy

a C survivor

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Ninure said...

I was also upset and frightened by the comment about NF2...

I thought that maybe I missed some update on NF2, especially as my tumors from NF@ have been spreading relatively in the last two years.

In the past, when House has mentioned NF it has helped me explain to my friends "what I have", so I don't understand why the writers went off the deep-end on this.

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