July 5, 2007, - 1:03 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Over the years, MTV has broadcast various specials and incantations about the virtue of diversity and accepting those who are different, including the disabled.
But that’s apparently just “do as I say, not as I do” gibberish, when it comes to the network, itself.
Just ask Darius Weems, the subject of the new documentary, “Darius Goes West.” The charming, wheelchair-bound 15-year-old from Athens, Georgia suffers from the fatal degenarative disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and dreams of getting his wheelchair “tricked out” (customized) with gadgets and decor by MTV’s famous “Pimp My Ride” show. He wants to be on the show to help spread awareness of his disease, and travels cross-country with college students in an RV to do so.
But when Weems and company get to Los Angeles, MTV ignores them and won’t have anything to do with Darius. To the rescue, an L.A.-area Lamborghini dealership, which does “Pimp Darius’ Ride,” when MTV wouldn’t.
Shame on MTV. The channel could have done a lot of good by helping Darius Weems. The next time the network and its “Choose or Lose” crew preach to you and your kids about diversity, tell them to quit Pimping America. Darius–and the rest of us–can take care of our own rides . . . and lives, ourselves, without any morality lessons from the hypocritical cable channel.
Despite MTV’s dissing of Darius, he sees the U.S. for the first time in his life–he’d never been outside of Athens, Georgia–and gains comraderie and friendship of the college students who transport him to L.A. So he has gained far more than he’d ever get from the phonies at MTV.
I don’t agree entirely with one of the messages of the movie–about how many sites in America are not wheelchair accessible. We are more disabled-friendly than almost any nation on earth (except Israel, which at one recent point had the most amputees per capita, because of war wounds and terrorist attacks). While I understand that there are many obstacles for the handicapped and we should have compassion, some ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements have put small businesses out of business.
You can watch the whole story in “Darius Goes West”–at movie festivals around the country now, and at arthouse theaters soon. The trailer is here:
Read ABC News/Nightline’s story on Darius Weems. Visit the Darius Goes West website for a lot more info.
Tags: America, Athens, Darius Goes West, Darius Weems, Darius Weems Shows Drawing, Debbie Schlussel, degenarative disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Georgia, Israel, L.A., Los Angeles, MTV, Pimp My Ride, United States