I’ve been a Marlee Matlin fan since Children of a Lesser God. She’s great in just about everything she does. Her turn on Picket Fences was memorable and gay-friendly; she stole the show every time she strolled into The West Wing; and even if you want Bette and Tina to get back together on The L Word, you can’t deny that Jodi has made things interesting. Plus, I just think she’s hot.
A reader (thanks, tuckatangent) sent me a link to a fascinating Matlin-related drama. It seems Mo Rocca, media personality extraordinaire, recently said a pretty stupid thing on his blog. Here’s the offending "joke," posted last week:
Mo Wants To Know: Why Was Marlee Matlin At American Idol Last Night?
I mean no disrespect to the Oscar-winning deaf actress. She can go anywhere she damn pleases.
But, the thing is … she’s deaf.
Uh, Mo? The thing is, you’re an idiot. But at least you know it now. Rocca was immediately taken to task by Matlin’s interpreter, Jack Jason, who explained (no doubt while cursing and gnashing his teeth) that deaf people are more than capable of enjoying American Idol and music generally. Rocca took it to heart, and he also took the opportunity to beg for a personal reply from Marlee. He got it, and it was brilliant. Here’s the heart of Marlee’s comment (for best results, read the whole thing!):
At the end of the day it’s not the humor or the jokes that bother me, it’s the real stuff like discrimination, lack of understanding, and inequality that ticks me off. Even more annoying are people who actually take the humor and use it to reinforce their prejudices. It’s true some of your readers might have been sensitive to your comments but that’s because they’ve been on the receiving end of ignorance — big time. So maybe that means we should choose our words carefully. At the same time, I think free speech and common sense are important too. So, you won’t see me going Al Sharpton on you if you want to make a joke about me or my deafness. I’d just hope that people would just consider what they say and what they label as “humor” in this YouTube, Instant Message world where things get replayed over and over again until we’re desensitized. And I’m referring to both pro and con arguments. Let’s just lower the volume, I say. (Pun intended).
"Let’s just lower the volume" is officially my new motto. I can’t think of a better way to balance free speech with basic awareness and decency. Marlee, will you please run for president now? If not president of the whole country, then president of something. Hey, Hillary still needs a running mate. OK, maybe not.
Matlin ended her comment on Rocca’s blog with a nod to my favorite art school dean:
… if you want to fawn at my feet and worship my Oscar, you’re welcome to come on up to Vancouver. I’m having a great time being Jennifer Beals‘ main squeeze on “The L Word” but I’ll make time for you. We’ll have some milk and cookies.
You’d be crazy not to take her up on that offer, Mo. Four-eyed types should stick together.