RAIN MAN HITS SIX THREE-POINTERS, LANDS MOVIE DEAL
Friday, April 21, 2006
|Which one is autistic?|
Since the mid-to-late 1980's, America has been infatuated with the physically- and mentally-handicapped. It is a rare occurrence, like Halley's Comet, to watch the Academy Awards and not see a nominee for Best Picture that focuses on the life and trials and tribulations of a disabled person. In the last 18 years at the Academy Awards, only five had a completely physically-able list of nominees for Best Picture. See the following list for further verification.
On February 16, 2006, an autistic manager of Greece Athena High School's basketball team would change his life forever, thanks to the freak show-loving society that is America. J-Mac, as he is known by his friends, was allowed to come in for the last four minutes of play in the last game of the season, and promptly missed his first two shots after an ear-shattering wave of applause from the crowd.
However, McElwain's financial future was secured after making his next six shots, all of which were three-pointers. The always optimistic member of the class of 2006 finished the game with 20 points in four minutes, which pans out to 240 points in 48 minutes in the NBA. The attention paid to McElwain was mostly local for the first few days after the game, but McElwain was quickly brought into the mainstream, where his feel-good story would eventually have Hollywood's stamp of approval.
He is autistic and achieved something that most top professionals of the sport dream of doing, that's great. Good for him. But now, he's not only met with President Bush, he's scheduled to appear on Oprah on Monday, April 24, 2006, and has struck a deal with Columbia Pictures to sell the rights to his life story.
It is a feat in and of itself to score 20 points in 4 minutes, let alone hitting six straight shots from beyond the arc. But it isn't just the accomplishment that has brought McElwain fame -- it's his autism. He's not Jason McElwain, he's "that autistic kid that got 20 points in 4 minutes." He doesn't have autism in the mainstream; the autism has him.
And it's not as if McElwain's autism hampered his ability to play basketball; autism manifests itself in markedly abnormal social interaction, communication ability, patterns of interests, and patterns of behavior. It does not make him shoot a basketball any worse than the next person.
Right behind McElwain is Earvin "Magic" Johnson, he of Lakers fame. "When I first saw the highlights on ESPN and then heard Jason's back story, I said, 'Man, I've got to be a part of this.' This story touched me, my kids, my wife," said Johnson. "When we go to the movies, this is the type of story we want to see."
The self-centeredness of the typical American is apparent in that one comment of Johnson's. "Man, I've got to be a part of this." "When we go to the movies, this is the type of story we want to see." Yes, it's all about satiating ourselves. Entertain me, autistic boy. Make me money, autistic boy.
If all it takes anymore to hit it big in America is some sort of disability, then you can find me slamming my head up against a wall until I don't know who I am anymore, then offer me a movie contract and an appearance on Oprah.
Estimates say that autism occurs in one in every 166 children in the United States, though some estimates have it more conservatively at 1,000. There are 298,568,334 people living in the United States as of this writing. By the conservative estimate, 298,568 of them are autistic, and plenty more have diseases that have been used in other movies that likely have at least "Academy Award nominee" in the footnotes, thanks to the freak show-loving American public, and more importantly, American mainstream media. Are those 298,568 autistic people deserving of a movie contract, too, or do they need to do something as great as hit six straight three-pointers? Probably not. Not even McElwain is deserving of his fame.
When this country can stop finding the differences between themselves and others and attempting to profit off of it, maybe she won't find herself in such a precarious position all of the time. Whether it's pointing out that Middle Eastern people were largely responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and subsequently resorting to racial profiling for airport security, or viewing an autistic person as "underlings" because of their disability, Americans are always going to use discrimination to put themselves on a pedestal, usually to do one of two things: make himself look good, or to fill his wallet with greenbacks.
So what can be expected of McElwain's movie? We can expect it to be in the running for Best Picture, if history is any indication. We can also be sure that Magic Johnson and Columbia Pictures are glad this kid wasn't born "normal."