So, I recognize that “Conan” may not be everybody’s cup of tea when it comes to television, but I generally find it quite funny. Conan O’Brien has always appealed to that darkish, slightly juvenile side of my sense of my sense of humour that also likes movies like “The Hangover” and pretty much all of Will Farrell’s run on Saturday Night Live. Trouble is, “Conan” is on awfully late and recently I’ve been going to bed – and getting up – very early. But today I discovered that he’s on one of the music channels during the day, so I tuned in, and heard his interview from September 11 with Rose Byrne.
And thought, “Oh yeah, I’m blogging about this.”
Rose Byrne Poses a Disability-Related Hypothetical
I didn’t recognize Rose Byrne, although, according to her IMDB profile, she’s done a number of movies and television series with which I’m at least familiar. She seemed very pleasant and quite intelligent. The “blog-worthy” comment came when she talked about visiting Fire Island with her boyfriend recently. In response to Conan’s question about how there wasn’t much to do on Fire Island, Rose Byrne said that she’d played “Would You Rather?” with some girlfriends.
I’d smiled at that point, remember a game of “Would You Rather?” on a girl’s weekend a few years ago that had gotten a little raunchy. But even with that memory in mind, I wasn’t prepared for her talking about how they’d debated this question: “Would you rather have one arm for the rest of your life or have a beard for the rest of your life of your own pubes?” (Pubic hair)
Conan answered “Beard of pubes, of course,” but changed his mind once she clarified that you can’t shave them off.
It’s a ridiculous question, of course. But I think that it’s ridiculous that “this was a tough one” (direct quote) for them, that we’re still living in a society where the loss of one arm is looked at as something too terrible to contemplate except in the context of a ridiculous hypothetical. What does that say about how society looks at people who only have one arm? What does it say about how they look at people with more severe disabilities?
I didn’t lose an arm. My left hand is pretty much non-functional, but I can still use my left arm as a brace, an anchor, and even to hold things in a very basic way. So I can’t truly speak for people who only have one arm. But when I heard Rose Byrne pose her hypothetical, I thought, “Are you kidding me? If you only had one arm, it’d be difficult at first, but you’d get used to it, and then you’d realize what the rest of us have: your body may be missing an arm, but it’s society that’s made you disabled. And maybe you’d realize that it’s the attitudes behind hypotheticals like yours that contribute to that.”
I can’t be too irritated with Rose Byrne, because maybe she’s never been around disabled people and truly seen them out there living exciting, fulfilling lives. But sometimes I just wish there was a “Reset” button that we could press that could quickly put all the misconceptions to rest, once and for all.
But nothing worth working for comes easily, or something like that. Thanks for working with me…