I get emails all the time from parents who have young children with celiac disease. They pour out their souls out to me, telling me what a hard time their kids are having at school just trying to fit in while being gluten free.
They tell me how other kids put bread and other gluten filled items on their plate because they think it’s funny.
They tell me how the school will not help protect their children during lunch hours.
They tell me how their children come home from school crying.
These are children we are talking about.
So then why the hell would The Disney Channel produce a show (“Jessie”) where the most annoying character, Stuart, happens to be gluten free and is made fun of because of it?
Here’s the video:
Did they go down a “disease list” and decide which would be the funniest?
“Let’s see Bob…Cancer isn’t funny…diabetes isn’t funny…MS isn’t funny. Oh, hey Bob, what about people who need to be gluten free. Those people are so annoying. Let’s make Stewart gluten free. People will laugh and laugh and laugh.”
Here’s the thing folks. It ain’t funny. It never was funny. And it never will be funny.
So let me touch on a few things and try to enlighten you a bit.
First off…your show sucks. When somebody on Twitter notified me of the episode, I had to watch the entire thing to find the gluten-free references and it was the most painful 23 minutes of my life. If that is the crap you’re coming up with these days, Walt must be rolling in his grave. I can’t even imagine the shows that didn’t make the cut.
Second, being gluten free as an adult is a total grind. Multiply that by 50 and you now have what a child goes through. Why do think that’s funny?
And third, by having another character throw pancakes at him and then having him whine about it makes her look like a bully and him look like a total wimp. Again, I’ll ask you…why do you think this is funny?
Let me guess. Because the media has turned gluten-free into a joke and instead of taking the higher road and realizing the TRUTH about gluten-free, you simply fell in line with everyone else and turned it into comedy gold.
And to air the episode during Celiac Awareness Month was just the perfect touch.
There is a mom who has a celiac child who is so incensed about this, she has started a petition at change.org to have the episode removed from the air waves.
Here is an excerpt of what she so eloquently stated:
For my kids, this is real. They have had friends make fun of their food, been disinvited to parties because of their diet. They have been made to sit alone, have had waitstaff roll their eyes and snidely comment about their requests to make their food safe for them to eat. They have watched others, sometimes strangers and sometimes not, act as if their requests are somehow just a trend, just a request of an overanxious parent or a spoiled and coddled child.
Their condition is real, and their feelings are real. They are ostracized for a condition for which they did not ask, and because of which they will spend their entire lives having to make exceptions and special requests, all to keep them healthy and safe. They will often feel excluded or different, because they have to be to avoid serious illness.
Yet Disney gave children permission, and an example, to further isolate my children and others like them because of their medical conditions. Their characters made it okay to characterize a real illness as an annoyance that is justification for the ‘cool kids’ to make fun of the ‘others’. This isn’t acceptable for anyone. It is the definition of bullying.
We are asking the Disney Channel to stop airing the episode ‘Quitting Cold Koala’ on the ‘Jessie’ show, and to stop using gluten-intolerance as an excuse to bully children with any disease, disorder or disability.
I could not have said it better myself.