Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Evolution of Cripple Charity Pitches



There are loads and loads of commercials where someone says something like, “Your generous gift of $19 a month will change lives.” Then they show a montage of those for whom the money is being raised, which is usually dogs or crippled children.

And I notice that the dogs in the montage are all desperately, heartbreakingly sad. But the crippled children are heartwarmingly upbeat, in spite of themselves.

I’m not sure what it all means. I’m not sure if this is an improvement over how things used to be. It used to be that crippled kids in charity ads also had to be desperately, heartbreakingly sad to pack the maximum sympathy punch. But somewhere along the line, someone decided that the most effective little spokescripples must be plucky and upbeat.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. It’s okay to have commercials where crippled adults ask for $19 a month, as long as they’re war vets. The crippled war vets are allowed to be sad, but in an adult sort of way. They don’t have to be plucky and upbeat, but their spirits should be brightened at least a little bit by the prospect of you donating $19 a month.

It’s also okay for crippled kids in charity commercials to be just as sad as dogs, as long as those kids are from other countries and are preferably not white. A good example is that commercial that beseeches everyone to donate $19 a month so kids in Guatemala can get surgery to fix their cleft palates. The little brown kids in the "before” videos, who still have cleft palates, are sad as hell. But in the "after” videos, when they don’t have cleft palates anymore, they’re smiling big. In that commercial there’s a scene that takes place in a remote and desolate village where a boy with a cleft palate approaches some other kids but those kids shun him like he’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And so the cleft palate kid slunks away, dejectedly. I always wonder how that scene was captured on camera. It must’ve been staged. There must have been a camera crew and lightning all set up and the director says “Action! Okay now enter cleft palate kid and go up to those other kids. And you other kids shun him hard, like he’s got cooties! That’s great! Now slunk away, cleft palate kid. Dejectedly! Outstanding! Cuuuut! It’s a wrap!”

I wonder if they made the poor cleft palate kid shoot that scene before they would give him his surgery.

Anyway, to get back to my point, I don’t know what all this means. I’ll leave that question to be contemplated by great scholars and philosophers, who have a lot of free time on their hands. 

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