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The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon
May 17, 2011 9:01 AM   Subscribe

After 45 years, $2.5 billion, and one legendary reunion, Jerry Lewis has announced that this year's Labor Day Telethon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be his last. (previously)

Lewis's fundraising efforts have not been without controversy.
posted by Trurl (87 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Send in....the clowns
posted by ian1977 at 9:05 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank god.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:05 AM on May 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


> Thank god.

So raising money for MDA is a bad thing?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:08 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I know the courage it takes to get on the court with other cripples and play wheelchair basketball, but I'm not as fortunate as they are," Lewis wrote, halfway into the piece. He had so far managed to include nearly every term or concept offensive to disability rights advocates, and his next sentences would work in the others: "I'd like to play basketball like normal, healthy, vital and energetic people. I really don't want the substitute. I just can't half-do anything. When I sit back and think a little more rationally," he continued, "I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being half a person."

WTF is wrong with that guy?
posted by ian1977 at 9:09 AM on May 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


He's 85 years old. The man is allowed to retire.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2011


He's like 100 years old?
posted by DU at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2011


Looks like the Dead Milkmen finally will have a non-fucked-up Labor Day.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:11 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


In that "controversy" link Jerry Lewis says that worshiping him will literally cure disease. If you wanted to show his ego you'd need one of those powers-of-ten charts where it zooms out and there's just a giant sweaty head next to VV Cephei A.
posted by theodolite at 9:12 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


WTF is wrong with that guy?

He grew up in a different time, with different values and attitudes.

Also, he's a fantastically gaping asshole.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:13 AM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nothing is wrong with the MDA mind you, its the bastard of a chairman they have.
posted by wheelieman at 9:14 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Still waiting for The Day the Crown Cried on blu-ray.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


He's 85 years old.

Not a healthy 85 either.

Lewis has battled prostate cancer, diabetes I, and pulmonary fibrosis, and has had at least two heart attacks.
posted by Trurl at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2011


Clown, dammit.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2011


That last link set my virus alarm off, the telethon years must have been very toxic indeed
posted by wheelieman at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2011


> In that "controversy" link Jerry Lewis says that worshiping him will literally cure disease.

Not true. He said hero worship of Babe Ruth saved the kid in the movie. Whether or not he was alluding to himself or that he thought that of himself is an exercise left to the viewer.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:16 AM on May 17, 2011


After 45 years, $2.5 billion --- Are they any closer to a cure?
posted by crunchland at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, malware warning on the "last" link (that's the link from the word "last", not the last link in the post).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2011


Yes, the last link might contain a Flash-based virus.
posted by willF at 9:17 AM on May 17, 2011


Enjoy retirement, Jerry. Have an alaskan polar bear heater on me.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:18 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]



He grew up in a different time, with different values and attitudes



Sure...and for that I could almost understand his use of the word 'cripple' maybe. But insinuating that the benefactors of his telethon are half-people? Wowsers.
posted by ian1977 at 9:19 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Still waiting for The Day the Clown Cried on blu-ray.

The MeFi thread on TDTCC included this excerpt from a Spy magazine interview with Harry Shearer - one of the few people who have ever seen it:

SPY: Can you compare it with anything else Lewis has done?

SHEARER: The only thing in Jerry's oeuvre that really is like it is a wonderful thing that he did early in the telethon. It was a dramatic tape of an LA actor who hosted the Popeye show, and Jerry shot it. The guy plays Muscular Dystrophy. It's a staged reading: (scary voice) "I am Muscular Dystrophy, and I hate people, especially children. I love to make their limbs shrivel up!" They showed this for several years before cooler heads prevailed.

posted by Trurl at 9:32 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Enjoy retirement, Jerry. Have an alaskan polar bear heater yt on me.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:18 AM on May 17


Cocktail experiment : Watch this. Best part is from 3'38" to the end.
posted by nicolin at 9:32 AM on May 17, 2011


The Telethon had lost most of its teeth over the years, anyway. Largely due to a spiral in which increasing numbers of channels available to viewers made the telethon itself less intrusive, and so it was more difficult for it to book relevant guests, and so the show had less appeal, so people weren't watching it because they had a million alternatives over that weekend, etc etc...

Back in the days when there was only the Big Three plus PBS, it pretty much dominated an entire weekend of television and was impossible to ignore. But it was also some of the potentially most interesting live television ever, so it was sort of okay.

I don't think I've watched it, personally, for over 15 years at this point.
posted by hippybear at 9:34 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME

For an understanding of why so many people hate this motherfuckers guts, watch this movie of Jerry's Orphans. The disabled community has strong deep feelings about Jerry Lewis and his telethon.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:39 AM on May 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, it's good that he'll be known for something other than his spectacularly failed attempts at comedy.

Seriously, did the man ever do anything funny? (think Arrested Development or Community)
posted by Afroblanco at 9:40 AM on May 17, 2011


Back in the days when there was only the Big Three plus PBS, it pretty much dominated an entire weekend of television and was impossible to ignore. ... I don't think I've watched it, personally, for over 15 years at this point.

Yep, all this.

But there are some cultural artifacts that give comfort simply by always being there.

With Jerry gone, I'll feel one step closer to the final curtain.
posted by Trurl at 9:43 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


But there are some cultural artifacts that give comfort simply by always being there.

Yup. Just watched "The Ten Commandments" on TV a few weeks ago.
posted by Melismata at 9:47 AM on May 17, 2011


Afroblanco: Seriously, did the man ever do anything funny? (think Arrested Development or Community)

I think I'd get a few more chuckles out of an old Jerry Lewis movie than "Arrested Development" or "Community." So go ahead and sue me.

Blasdelb: The disabled community has strong deep feelings about Jerry Lewis and his telethon.

I have stronger and deeper feelings about current-day politicians who vote to cut services for the disabled than I do for an 85-year-old superannuated celebrity who lives in a bubble and whose name is attached to old-fashioned telethons that hark back to the days of Ed Sullivan, Lawrence Welk, and vaudeville.
posted by blucevalo at 9:53 AM on May 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


From Blasdelb's link:

The MDA and Jerry Lewis have been criticized by disability rights activists for their tendency to paint disabled people as, "pitiable victims who want and need nothing more than a big charity to take care of or cure them."

While this is generally true, I hope that people don't lose sight of the fact that disabled people often require lots and lots of money just to be able to live the lives we take for granted.
posted by Melismata at 9:56 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


[removed link to the fan site that was trigering virus warnings based on the fact that it was trying to load windows media player, carry on.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:56 AM on May 17, 2011


Seriously, did the man ever do anything funny?

Well, funny is definitely in the eye of the beholder, but his early career has a lot of great stuff going on in it. Much of the Martin And Lewis material is pretty good, especially the nightclub stuff where they were one of the earliest improvised acts, and Lewis sort of was a progenitor of the kind of comedy Andy Kauffman would later do, only Lewis was much more about slapstick and embarrassment than discomfort.

Lewis was also pretty amazing with using body language and such to create character. His version of The Nutty Professor relied nearly exclusively on his own talents to transform himself, not fat suits and special effects like Eddie Murphy relied on. The Family Jewels has him playing 6 or 7 different roles. A lot of his films in the 1960s are pretty good if you like older movies. The Bellboy and The Ladies Man both come to mind for me.

I really REALLY like The King Of Comedy, but it's not really a funny role. Also Funny Bones. Again, not really a comedy.
posted by hippybear at 9:59 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure...and for that I could almost understand his use of the word 'cripple' maybe

Didn't Jesus heal the cripples?

Intent is everything, especially when it comes to word choice.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:09 AM on May 17, 2011


especially the nightclub stuff

I forget which old showbiz hand said this. But they said that in all their years of working rooms large and small, they had never seen an act get the screams of laughter that Martin & Lewis did.

Tastes were a lot different then, of course. But trust me: people thought Jerry Lewis was funny.
posted by Trurl at 10:11 AM on May 17, 2011




Didn't Jesus heal the cripples? (I don't know, did he?)

Intent is everything, especially when it comes to word choice.

What is your point? I was saying that given Jerry's generation, using the word 'cripple' to describe someone in a wheelchair was par for the course and not necessarily meant to be derisive or rude.

Saying someone is a half-person is clearly guileless at best, cruel at worst...especially coming from the mouth of the leader of the MDA telethon.
posted by ian1977 at 10:19 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The telethon has run its course.
He did a lot to raise money, albeit sometimes in a non PC way.
No one likes to be called crippled. But cut him some slack. He's my parents age. They still act amazed when a "black person" speaks "well." They are old and they say stupid, bigoted things.
His movie, "The Nutty Professor" was fantastic. Put Eddie Murphy to shame.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:23 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll be glad to see him go, the arrogant homophobe. An entirely unpleasant person.
posted by Morrigan at 10:36 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was saying that given Jerry's generation, using the word 'cripple' to describe someone in a wheelchair was par for the course and not necessarily meant to be derisive or rude.
Saying someone is a half-person is clearly guileless at best, cruel at worst...especially coming from the mouth of the leader of the MDA telethon.


Believe it or not, the implication that they were "not complete people" was also not meant to be derisive or rude in Jerry's youth; it was perceived as factual ("they can't stand and walk, like a 'normal' person can, there is therefore something un-whole about them").

I never got the big deal about Jerry Lewis either. He did do a good job with his Law and Order SVU guest stint, though (he played John Munch's uncle, whom Munch first discovered homeless in the street because he was suffering from mental illness -- only they thought it was depression at first and treated him for that, only to have him then go into a manic episode and kill someone. I think.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now that's acting, my friend.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:38 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


In light of the mentioned 2.5 BILLION DOLLARS he helped raise as line one of the MD Telethon; I could care less about how he feels, words he says, or of his opinions about anything.

Let us consider the positive that 2.5 BILLION DOLLARS allowed to be possible.
posted by buzzman at 10:50 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


To me Jerry Lewis is the ultimate example of watch what I do, not what I say. So much came out of that man's mouth that was offensive, bigoted sludge, but he worked his ass off for the muscular dystrophy association -- and the past 20 or 25 years of telethons could not have been fun, with his health issues on the one hand, and the shrinking spotlight on the other. But he was in it for life, and he gets a lot of credit for that in my book.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:52 AM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]



The MDA and Jerry Lewis have been criticized by disability rights activists for their tendency to paint disabled people as, "pitiable victims who want and need nothing more than a big charity to take care of or cure them."

While this is generally true, I hope that people don't lose sight of the fact that disabled people often require lots and lots of money just to be able to live the lives we take for granted.
posted by Melismata at 12:56 PM on May 17 [1 favorite +] [!]


Call me stoopid, but I thought the money went to research only. How much, if any, went to bettering MD sufferer's lives?
posted by Gungho at 11:08 AM on May 17, 2011


A friend of mine who did a bit of acting and commercial work as a child tells the story of when he was around 7, he was hired for the telethon and made to wear leg braces as one of the afflicted kids in the background (He didn't have MD.). This is shocking enough, but my friend says he was sitting there with the leg braces on and, as 7-year-olds are wont to do, especially while wearing leg braces one doesn't actually need, he was kicking his feet in the air. Jerry told him to stop or, as my friend quotes, "I'll nail your feet to the floor!"
posted by AJaffe at 11:18 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Call me stoopid, but I thought the money went to research only.

Well, if the money goes to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and isn't earmarked for anything specific (I can't find anything that says it is), it apparently goes toward a lot of thing, not just research. Their Wikipedia page has a brief overview of where money is spent through the MDA.
posted by hippybear at 11:19 AM on May 17, 2011


An entirely unpleasant person

Entirely? Really?
posted by ShutterBun at 11:20 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, did the man ever do anything funny?

Yes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on May 17, 2011


Seriously, did the man ever do anything funny?

Jerry told him to stop or, as my friend quotes, "I'll nail your feet to the floor!" - That's comedy gold right there!
posted by zeoslap at 11:42 AM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Let me expand upon that. It's hard for us to understand Jerry Lewis, because we grew up with Jerry Lewis, but he is a singular talent. He may be a wretched man -- I don't think he is, I think instead, he's like a lot of people's grandfathers, sweet but completely clueless about some things -- but in his day, he was sui generis. He managed to create an absolutely unique, and instantly recognizable, comic persona. He was the uncontrolled manchild, and the amount of energy he brought to that performance is still astonishing. Early television critics likened his tv appearances with Dean Martin to Elvis's appearances -- to the adults of America, it was like this new medium had gone berserk.

Now, whether you find this persona funny or not is going to be a matter of tastes, but a lot of people did, and still do -- enough to make him a superstar in his time, and a legend in ours. And he had broader talents, as is more than amply displayed by "The Nutty Professor," in which his Frank Sinatra-styled Buddy Love offers up a startlingly deranged take on sophisticated womanizers. He also studied the mechanics of filmmaking, and contributed to them in at least one fundamental way -- he pretty much created video assist, which for four decades was an essential tool of filmmaking.

If I have a complaint about Lewis, it's not about his comedy, which was chaotic and anarchic and still holds up if you have a taste for that. It's that he tended toward schmaltz. He was and is a man of big, burbling emotions, and they tended to overwhelm some of his projects -- I am sure it is this tendency that submarined The Day the Clown Cried. In his later years, he managed to turn his persona into something darker, and, as mentioned about, both King of Comedy and Funny Bones are quite excellent as a result -- both films are meditations on the dark heart of tragedy and neuroses that often inspires comedy.

Feel free to criticize him. He's earned his share, and nobody in the public eye ever gets a free pass for being old and clueless. But you and I don't know about him because of some stupendous prank that was pulled on us, but because Jerry Lewis made, and changed, entertainment history, and I give him props for that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:49 AM on May 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


Here's to the hope that none of us outlive our own cultural milieu.
posted by crunchland at 11:52 AM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why did he end each telethon by singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone'?

Wasn't the goal to have his kids be able to move independently?
posted by mazola at 11:57 AM on May 17, 2011


Back in the early 70s my folks were flying from Las Vegas to LA, and Jerry Lewis happened to be on their plane. According to my father--an engineer who did not exaggerate--Lewis was drunk, loud and obnoxious, and determined to tell very blue jokes to the folks in coach, some of whom had kids with them. My parents were appalled, as were many others on the plane. "What a disgusting man," was Dad's conclusion.
posted by kinnakeet at 11:58 AM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what do we do now? Burn him in effigy?
posted by ShutterBun at 12:00 PM on May 17, 2011


So what do we do now? Burn him in effigy?

No, we thank him profusely for working to raise so much money for a worthy cause, and we applaud him as he bows out of this final, lengthy project he embarked on 45 years ago. And we recognize his long and varied career and the innovations he made both as an actor and a filmmaker. And we wish him nothing but the best during the remaining years of his life.
posted by hippybear at 12:03 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]



SHEARER: The only thing in Jerry's oeuvre that really is like it is a wonderful thing that he did early in the telethon. It was a dramatic tape of an LA actor who hosted the Popeye show, and Jerry shot it. The guy plays Muscular Dystrophy. It's a staged reading: (scary voice) "I am Muscular Dystrophy, and I hate people, especially children. I love to make their limbs shrivel up!" They showed this for several years before cooler heads prevailed.


He must mean Tom Hatten.
posted by anazgnos at 12:06 PM on May 17, 2011


He also studied the mechanics of filmmaking, and contributed to them in at least one fundamental way -- he pretty much created video assist, which for four decades was an essential tool of filmmaking.

Lewis tells a story about editing a gag in one of his early films where someone reacts with alarm to the sound of a plane taking off:

We edited it 30 times before deciding to cut two frames from the shot. It was that critical.

So, say that his films are overrated by auteurists if you like. But no one should deny him recognition for approaching his craft with the utmost seriousness.
posted by Trurl at 12:07 PM on May 17, 2011


So what do we do now? Burn him in effigy?
No, we thank him profusely for working to raise so much money for a worthy cause, and we applaud him as he bows out of this final, lengthy project he embarked on 45 years ago. And we recognize his long and varied career and the innovations he made both as an actor and a filmmaker. And we wish him nothing but the best during the remaining years of his life.
Can't we do both?
posted by mazola at 12:07 PM on May 17, 2011


"Entirely? Really?"

Yeah, really. He has repeatedly made it entirely clear that his participation in the telethon has always been about him, his sick paternalism and his weird desperate co-opting of the struggles of others. The quote in the third link makes it entirely clear that he hasn't changed a damn bit even after all these years. He holds himself as a father figure, enforcing his dehumanizing bigotry with other peoples money.

No, Jerry Lewis is the vile hateful grandfather who no one talks to, that took everyone a little while to realize just how bad he was, but kept saying bigoted hateful things and refusing to listen to the people he hurt. But somehow he got famous, brings money into town, and so some cynically use him but everyone hopes he goes away so that he can die the lonely death that people who hate the people they call family usually get.

Also Charity Navigator's opinion MDA is not even run all that well.

This man is one of the big reasons why I went into Microbiology, so that I'd never be faced with the choice of my job or having to take one red cent of MDA's money.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:08 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jesus. Keep Blasdelb away from the obituary thread when it happens.
posted by hippybear at 12:11 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, really. He has repeatedly made it entirely clear that his participation in the telethon has always been about him, his sick paternalism and his weird desperate co-opting of the struggles of others.

If we only let people do good for noble reasons, there would be naught but evil done.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:11 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looks like the Dead Milkmen finally will have a non-fucked-up Labor Day.

One! Two! Earth! Shoe!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:14 PM on May 17, 2011


Afroblanco: Seriously, did the man ever do anything funny? (think Arrested Development or Community)

I love Arrested Development, but I don't think it invented comedy, or invalidated all previous forms.
posted by anazgnos at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2011


One thing I was always curious about is if the guests get to deduct their appearances as a contribution to the charity. Not just this, but also things such as farm aid, etc. Nothing wrong with that, of course, just that it would diminish the nobility of the act in my eyes if they received a huge tax deduction.
posted by Bitter soylent at 12:15 PM on May 17, 2011


Who gives a shit about "nobility"? This thread is full of the worst kind of armchair liberalism. Go raise some money for charity.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:18 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I believe they can deduct the fair market value of their appearances.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:18 PM on May 17, 2011


To paraphrase Darrow, I've never wished a man dead, but that is one obituary I expect to read with great pleasure.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:19 PM on May 17, 2011


WTF is wrong with that guy?

He's on MDA. Ho, lady! Can I have a Mrs. Lady?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2011


I've always felt horrible, even as a kid, for despising that telethon. I mean how can you despise a telethon for MDA? But it kind of reminded me of when my mom would take me to these bizarre flea markets as a kid, where there was nothing to do, and nothing cool was being sold anywhere, and I was just stuck there. The whole concept of the telephon feels that way, and that Jerry Lewis's went on forever, plus probably him having these two faces - one where he was wacky, and the other where you wondered if he was going to snap and kill someone on set - just was so demoralizing.

But that said, I have a permanent uneasiness towards Lewis, and his generation, that I cannot quite put my finger on. That generation had a lot of blindspots when it came to minorities and females. When a new generation comes along that doesn't have as a natural equilibrium those same blindspots (but maybe other ones), I feel like it's not really fair to criticism the old generation viciously for being so racist. (This is the point where I also don't feel comfortable with that statement). It seems like when you're just born naturally having a particular virtue, either by temperament or cultural status quo, then you can't really act like it's true virtue, because it's purely accidental you were born at that place in that time. I have older relatives who are very racist still, and sometimes all I can think is "I would probably be exactly like them given the exact circumstances that they were in."

So when I see Jerry Lewis saying controversial things about MDA, and the whole "Jerry's Orphans" stuff, I can't quite figure the right response - at least from a public point of view. These are the very definition of blindspots - he can't see them. And being a public person as he is, it's probably true that he suffers from intentionally or unintentionally a neglect of feedback from other people that most of us get all the time.

YEt, the other part of me says - however the appropriate response, you do have to give feedback to people with these serious blindspots. It's incorrect to talk about a person with MDA as though they were half human, not to mention immoral. They are fully human now. There's a "white man's burden" style to his charitable efforts that may just be generationally out of date, though. That's what I try to believe with stuff like this.
posted by scunning at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Clowns. Love 'em, hate'em, fear them..
posted by Steakfrites at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2011


A complex character, that's for sure. And it's the reason that humanity celebrates someone like Lewis, long after he's become irrelevant or sufferable. So to look back at this point and demand compensation for Labor Day tv-viewings ruined is kind of a moot point. We are who we are and and one point in time, Lewis personified that.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2011


messed up the first link - worth watching. Jerry Lewis and Shirley McLain
posted by Steakfrites at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2011


The ever quotable Lewis
posted by Blasdelb at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2011


Physical humor? The typewriter OK, I'll stop now.
posted by Steakfrites at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2011


Nobody did Jerry Lewis better than Animaniacs.

Heart Of Twilight
Clown And Out (excerpt)
Hello Nice Warners (actually links to the whole episode, but the Jerry Lewis character is in the first segment)
(or just a segment from Hello Nice Warners, a bit faster to load)
posted by hippybear at 12:52 PM on May 17, 2011


"While this is generally true, I hope that people don't lose sight of the fact that disabled people often require lots and lots of money just to be able to live the lives we take for granted."

So, what, they should be beholden to a man whose opinions of them range from,

"... I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person..." and "...I decided, after 41 years of battling this curse that attacks children of all ages and does it with 40 different ways to make its point (there are 40 different neuromuscular diseases), I would put myself in that chair ... that steel imprisonment that long has been deemed the dystrophic child's plight...." (Addressing how he would feel in the place of one of "his kids")

to,

"You might as well put a gun in your mouth." (Addressing those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) ?
posted by Blasdelb at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nobody did Jerry Lewis better than Animaniacs.

HOY-vin glayvin!
posted by Trurl at 1:06 PM on May 17, 2011


I have stronger and deeper feelings about current-day politicians who vote to cut services for the disabled

You know, for all of the cuts in social services we're facing, I think that politicians do recognize the need to fund services for the disabled. The ADA remains in full-swing, and is one of the most progressive* pieces of legislation ever passed. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of any proposed cuts to ADA funding.
posted by schmod at 1:37 PM on May 17, 2011


July 1979. I'm suffering from pneumonia and have been attempting to sleep upright in a living room chair for the past four days because a reclining position immediately sends me into coughing spasms. I'm seriously sleep deprived and my only friend at 3AM is the TV. We didn't have cable at that time (who did?) so I had to watch whatever station hadn't yet signed off. This Jerry Lewis film called The Patsy came on our local UHF channel in the middle of the night. I don't remember much about the movie except that when he sang "I Lost My Heart at a Drive-In Movie" I laughed so hard I woke up everyone else in the house. My Mom sleepily staggered into the living room to ask what the hell was so (bad word) funny. I gestured to the TV set and after a moment she asked with such venom in her voice as I'd never heard before: "You woke me up over a (bad word) Jerry (bad word) Lewis movie??!!"

Telethon-wise, in the mid-1970s it was a a tradition at my house to have a slumber party on Sunday night of Labor Day weekend and we'd tune in to the Jerry Lewis Telethon in the pre-dawn hours of Monday to watch and laugh at the severely D-List "talent" that appeared (I still remember "The Pierce Sisters All-Girl Band" which was a group of pre-teens in fluffy party dresses playing an assortment of brass instruments).
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:55 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


"You woke me up over a (bad word) Jerry (bad word) Lewis movie??!!" --- So let me get this straight... you're dying of pneumonia, and haven't slept in days, and you're mom chews you out for laughing at a movie?
posted by crunchland at 1:59 PM on May 17, 2011


"You woke me up over a (bad word) Jerry (bad word) Lewis movie??!!" --- So let me get this straight... you're dying of pneumonia, and haven't slept in days, and you're mom chews you out for laughing at a movie?
Yes. She was a sympathetic "nurse" during the day, but not so much in the middle of the night.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:28 PM on May 17, 2011


Where's Jerry Lewis when you need the man?
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:00 PM on May 17, 2011


The ADA remains in full-swing, and is one of the most progressive* pieces of legislation ever passed. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of any proposed cuts to ADA funding.

The ADA is a valuable and historical bit of legislation. It does not, however, contain any funding; and it's actually relatively conservative and business-friendly compared with what some of its supporters had hoped to achieve.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:58 PM on May 17, 2011


So who will be hosting 2012? Drew Carey? ....
posted by buzzman at 5:00 PM on May 17, 2011


No one likes to be called crippled. But cut him some slack. He's my parents age. They still act amazed when a "black person" speaks "well." They are old and they say stupid, bigoted things.

I don't care how old they are it does not excuse them. I hate when people use that "he's old, hde doesn't know better." Bullshit, I don't care how old they are, you call them on their bigotry, or ableism.

This quote is from a May 20, 2001 interview on CBS News Sunday Morning.

"If it's pity we'll get some money. I'm just giving you the facts. Pity ... if you don't want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don't come out of the house."


Fuck him. I don't care how much he has raised, fuck Jerry Lewis. The fucker wants anyone who uses a wheelchair to accept being pitied. fuck that noise. Wait, let me use what Jerry would want, FUCK THAT NOISE. Just because I'm in a wheelchair, or on a walker, a cane, a crutch, a scooter, doesn't mean I want your pity.


This thread is full of the worst kind of armchair liberalism. Go raise some money for charity.
posted by Horselover Phattie


What have you done for charity? I, personally, raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation (unfortunately most of my raised money has not posted yet, as it takes time for it to post.) I also raise money for the American Cancer Society by doing Relay for Life. St. Baldrick's I started volunteering for five years before I was diagnosed with cancer, ACS was after.

Those are just two of the charities that I work with. What have you done lately, Horselover Phattie?

(sidenote: I am also disabled and a user of mobility devices from a cane to a wheelchair depending upon the day, but, I do not have any form of MD)

Back to finishing putting together things for the charity raffle I am working on.
posted by SuzySmith at 10:21 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Morrigan: I'll be glad to see him go, the arrogant homophobe. An entirely unpleasant person.

An arrogant homophobe. Hmmm. When I think of "arrogant homophobes," I think of -- Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Tom Coburn, Maggie Gallagher, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, people like that. When I think of Jerry Lewis's ignorant comments, I think of an 85-year-old man who was at his prime in an era when gay men were herded onto paddywagons for congregating in public places and beaten by cops. I'm not excusing Jerry Lewis for his homophobia, his misogyny, or his antiquated notions of what having a disability means. On the flip side, he probably wouldn't give two shits what I or anybody else thinks of him at this point in life.

schmod: I think that politicians do recognize the need to fund services for the disabled. The ADA remains in full-swing, and is one of the most progressive* pieces of legislation ever passed. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not aware of any proposed cuts to ADA funding.

That's federal legislation, and it's great to have it still in effect. But what about state and local cuts?

"Hundreds of disabled people are calling on Governor Rick Scott to restore money he cut last week from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities."

I didn't have to look very far to find it, and it's just one example.
posted by blucevalo at 11:21 AM on May 18, 2011


Tangentially related*: Sahara closes its doors.
posted by mazola at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2011


SuzySmith: Grow fucking up, to repeat your style. Get a clue that times change, and people may not change so fast, especially as they pass 70, and it only gets worst. That's reality. Your complaint is petty and childish and you ought to know better. You sound like a teenager in your absurd self righteousness.

Jerry probably is an asshole. He's a rich celebrity, who cares? He was funny as hell in his day. Homophobic? Yea, I've read/heard things. But I figure he was probably hit on by half the gays in Hollywood (I would have hit on him myself, in my teens!). That would get old real fast.

Certainly there are examples of others who have grown old gracefully, and actually updated their views as times change. Wow! Jerry isn't one of those. Kind of figures. He comes from a time and place where "fuck you" was a way of life, not just an epitaph.
posted by Goofyy at 7:45 AM on May 19, 2011


This quote is from a May 20, 2001 interview on CBS News Sunday Morning.
"If it's pity we'll get some money. I'm just giving you the facts. Pity ... if you don't want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don't come out of the house."

Fuck him. I don't care how much he has raised, fuck Jerry Lewis. The fucker wants anyone who uses a wheelchair to accept being pitied. fuck that noise. Wait, let me use what Jerry would want, FUCK THAT NOISE. Just because I
'm in a wheelchair, or on a walker, a cane, a crutch, a scooter, doesn't mean I want your pity.


On the other hand he could just be stating a fact. Do you seriously think that every red-blooded, able-bodied American is going to let the guy or gal in a wheelchair fend for themselves when push comes to shove? Will we just sit back and say well, its his own damn fault he's stuck in the rain, or in the middle of traffic? No. We will take Pity on him/her just like we would any other person of normal ability who gets into a situation where we know we can be of service.
posted by Gungho at 7:01 AM on May 22, 2011


Extremely late to the thread, but what struck me in the Ragged Edge link was the MDA's utter contempt for disability activists, and that seems like the larger problem. Jerry Lewis's statements are odious, sure, and I don't think it's quite right to dismiss them with just an "Oh, grandpa," (mainly because I think they come from a slightly different place--there's a certain arrogance and defensiveness that come from someone who has bound up his identity in this organization, and cannot bear to take any criticism about it.) But his statements a symptom, not a problem in themselves.

I think if 45 years ago, MDA reps had sat down with Lewis and said, "Look, a large part of our mission is to raise money for medical research, but we're also very much about promoting accessibility, and lobbying for legal protections, and trying to empower people living with MD," I don't think he would've thrown back something like, "If you don't want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don't come out of the house." But MDA was never about those things, and was never willing to become about them.
posted by kagredon at 8:54 PM on May 29, 2011


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