Quickhit: “From Cool to Crippled” in advertising
Description [emphases are mine]: The ad is headed, in red,
“Drive stupid and score some kickin’ new wheels.”
This heading is placed beside the image of an slim adolescent boy, white-appearing and dark-haired, wearinga red T-shirt, black jeans, and black Converse-style sneakers. He is sitting in a hospital-style wheelchair. His arms are slumped on the armrests, his back hunched, and his head bent such that his face is in shadow and not clearly visible.
The small text in the ad reads:
“Nothing’s cooler than the day you get your driver’s license. But as soon as you start driving stupid, it’s not so cool anymore. Texting, using your iPod, racing, they all fall under the category of stupid. And dangerous. So before you get behind the wheel and try to prove how cool you are, here’s a little harsh reality. Nothing kills more Utah teens than auto crashes. Not fazed? Okay, how does the thought of spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair grab you? Look, every year far too many Utah teens go from cool to crippled in the blink of an eye. So if you’re one of those drivers who think they have something to prove, you can start shopping for your wheelchair now. And hey, if you think that’s harsh, wait until the day you roll it into school.
Drowsy Driving | Distracted Driving | Aggressive Driving | Impaired Driving | Not Buckling Up
As Bad Cripple says:
But the ad relies on antiquated and deeply rooted fears to scare teens noting that “every year far too many Utah teens go from cool to crippled in the blink of the eye”. Great, this undermines forty years of legislative initiatives meant to empower people with a disability. Teens are being taught that a wheelchair is akin to a tragedy, a fate worse than death.
If you go to the website, the header currently has a headshot of a conventionally-pretty white brunette girl with sutured wounds on her cheek and lip. The heading says, “Driving stupid can really make you look bad.”
So there’s the Don’t Drive Stupid campaign: it is assumed that for teen boys using a wheelchair is worse than death – and for teen girls, the worst possible fate is to have minor wounds on her face.
It is interesting to contrast these official messages – ableist, sexist, objectifying, dehumanising – with the posters made by high school students themselves for the campaign: a car knocking the motif off a signpost, ‘When you drive you hold someone’s life in your hands”, “you know you’re tired when you swerve to miss your car freshener“, “Last message received” with a crash and a breaking cellphone, and various others – none of which rely on stereotypes about marginalised groups at all.
Next up, Bad Cripple brings us this Nike advertisement:
Description: A Nike shoe sits on a red background. The text reads:
Fortunately, the Air Dri-Goat features a patented goat-like outer sole for increased traction, so you can taunt mortal injury without actually experiencing it. Right about now you’re probably asking yourself, “How can a trail running shoe with an outer sole designed like a goat’s hoof help me avoid compressing my spinal cord into a Slinky on the side of some unsuspecting conifer, thereby rendering me a drooling, misshapen, non-extreme-trail-running husk of my former self, forced to roam the earth in a motorized wheelchair with my name embossed on one of those cute little license plates you get at carnivals or state fairs, fastened to the back?”
To that we answer, hey, have you ever seen a mountain goat (even an extreme mountain goat) careen out of control into the side of a tree?
Didn’t think so.
Bad Cripple commentary reads, in part (check out the rest):
If anything is unusual about the above Nike ad it is the fact it was pulled. Imagery of this sort is sadly the norm and abounds. I see it every day on television, in newspapers, on the internet and in a plethora of magazines. Some people in disability studies call such images examples of the “defective person industry”.