I came across this on Boing Boing last week, but it didn’t actually register until I came across it again today.
Author Art Bradford (Dogwalker), who I interviewed at KGB bar two years ago, has exciting news. His ”traveling news show” and documentary series “How’s Your News,” which he made with campers from Camp Jabberwocky—a summer camp for adults with disabilities that he’s worked at for years—has been made into a series for MTV. It premiered on Sunday.
South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker produced the show (and funded the 2002 and 2004 documentaries), and have been receiving the most attention and credit in the press. Though I know it’s a collaborative effort, I wanted to make sure that the mellow and sincere short-story writer got a shout-out for being the inspiration for the awesome project that started in a camp video class over ten years ago. (So you have an idea of what Bradford’s like, I’ll note out that he would probably not take credit for the inspiration and would pass it on to his friends from Camp Jabberwocky, or would make a joke because “being the inspiration” is cheesy, or maybe he would just ignore what I said, but if he did either of the last two it would be because he felt the first way, maybe). He talked a lot about his experiences at Camp Jabberwocky when we met, and what struck me most was that he talked about people with disabilities as if they were, you know, normal people.
When talking to Boing Boing, he said this to address concerns about airing a show that featured adults with disabilities on MTV:
I think the big question everyone has about our TV series goes something like this “Does this show really belong on MTV? Aren’t all those kids going to laugh for all the wrong reasons?” I have so many thoughts about that I don’t know where to begin, but let me just say that I think this line of questioning does a sort of disservice to both people with disabilities and the kids who watch MTV. People with disabilities don’t really need a bunch of watchdogs looking out for their “best interests”. They are most often able to do this themselves and I can assure you our cast is extremely proud of the work they did on this show, as are their families. And the kids who watch MTV are much smarter than we are giving them credit for. They deserve something like this, a show that doesn’t assume they can’t decide things for themselves.
We had a lot of fun shooting this series. Everywhere we went people would stare at the bus and come up and talk to us. For me, as the director, it was often exhausting and sometimes stressful, like when one of our reporters would have a seizure or shit their pants in the middle of shooting something important. Both of these things happened more than I’d like to recall. But it was overall a pretty magical experience and the fact this this show is now going to air on primetime and be available to so many households across America is something we should all rejoice in. It’s a small miracle, really. We’re like that guy on the British American Idol, Paul Potts, the car phone salesmen who got up there and shook everyone up with his passionate opera voice. He was pure genuine desire and authenticity without the annoying gloss and it was great to see him break through. That’s what you’ll see on How’s Your News: pure, unpolished gems.
Gems for real. Watch the premiere here. Or tune in next Sunday.