This is not a rant. This is not a rave. For this post, I am using my quiet voice. Yes…I have a quiet voice.
A fellow celiac notified me that NBC was running a Super Bowl ad immediately following the end of the game promoting NASCAR. The Super Bowl is seen by over 100 million people. So yeah…it’s a pretty big audience.
You can already see where this is going. In this ad, they poke fun at what else? Gluten of course. I mean, why not. It’s the hip thing to do these days, so why should they rise above the bottom feeders? And yes…I’m still using my quiet voice.
Before I go any further, I’d like you to watch the ad:
If you cannot see the above video, you can see it here.
They have a cool concept, a funny actor and a huge audience. They could have selected one out of 1,000 things that related to America being “soft” that would have still been humorous. But they chose gluten. Why?
You’d think I’d get used to these things, but each time hits me to the core. But after the Joy Behar calamity last week (which of course followed all of the other calamities our community has had to put up with), I wasn’t sure if I should even approach this ad, for a number of reasons.
One, I want to avoid the whole “boy who cried wolf” thing and not jump every time someone slams gluten-free. It gets mundane…even for me. I have a lot to offer this community and don’t want to be known for simply calling others out. I like bringing positive attention to our disease much more than this crap.
And two, I’m not sure how much fight is left in me. I’ve been advocating for over three years now and instead of the jokes at our expense getting better, they’re actually getting worse. And when I post something like this, I get a lot of shit from a lot of people, many who see the world through their eyes only and if it doesn’t affect them personally, why should they care. So the question becomes…is it even worth the fight?
But then I think about the hoards of emails I receive and the plethora of comments left on this blog. And yes, I just used the words hoards and plethora in the same sentence.
I think about all of the gluten-free children getting bullied for being “different”, when all they want to do is feel better and fit in. I think about all of the people who have gotten sick at restaurants because the kitchen and/or the staff do not take us seriously. I think about all of those walking around undiagnosed and suffering because they only listen to what is in the media. I think about all of the people in the past who have died prematurely when going gluten-free MAY have been their saving grace.
The fact is…I’m tired of being the butt of jokes from ignorant people. Yeah…I can handle it just fine. I’m a big boy. But it’s not just about me. It’s for all of those people I just mentioned in the above paragraph. It’s for those who don’t have a voice. Who are sick. And tired. And sick and tired of the lack of empathy for those silently suffering.
You see…I don’t think we’re soft or weak as the ad implies. I don’t think we’re part of the problem. I think we’re a pretty strong bunch who just wants the world to move on to something else and let us handle our disease as we wish. The PROBLEM, as I see it, is the utter and complete lack of empathy so many in our society feel. Not just about gluten, but about so many things. We’ve lost the ability to feel for others who are in a situation that you just may not understand. It’s become easier to laugh at people than to care about them.
Are there gluten-free fakers out there that are part of the problem? Absolutely. But they are in the minority. And we are getting lumped in with them because of these media attacks. And I want it to stop.
So here is what I’m going to do. No yelling and screaming. I’m simply going to lay out some facts and if you agree with me that NBC should change or remove their ad before this Sunday, I will have a call to action for you to follow.
Celiac Disease Facts
Fact: Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.
Fact: Celiac disease affects over 3 million Americans, making it the most common autoimmune disease in the world.
Fact: Celiac disease affects men and women across all ages and races.
Fact: 83% of those celiacs are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
Fact: The longer a person is not properly diagnosed and continues to eat gluten, the greater their risk of developing other autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, osteoporosis and cancer.
Fact: Untreated celiac disease increases the risk of cancer 200-300%.
Fact: Untreated celiac disease increases the risk of miscarriage 800-900%.
Fact: There are NO pharmaceutical cures for celiac disease.
Fact: A 100% gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for celiac today.
Fact: The total US healthcare cost for all untreated celiacs: $14.5 – $34.8 billion annually.
Fact: An additional 3% – 6% suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity and suffer just as greatly.
Is it cancer? No. Does that mean it should be laughed at? I would like to think not.
Call to Action
I spoke to some of my fellow advocates today asking for the best approach. I did not want to be a single voice in this one. A few others will be writing blog posts today too and promoting the same call to action.
While I’m not a big fan of the petitions at change.org, the fact is they are effective. Go Daddy was going to run a Super Bowl ad this year that many felt promoted puppy mills. A petition was started and it received over 42,000 signatures and Go Daddy pulled the ad. And remember the Disney fiasco a few years back? We actually got Disney to remove an episode three days before it was going to air. So we have the power.
So I did indeed create a petition. I’d like everyone to share this link so we can get as many signatures as humanly possible. Whether you think it will work or not, I hope you consider signing it. It’s all about getting our voices heard and to knock off this nonsense that we’re weak because we’re gluten free. Thanks in advance. I need a vacation.