For Matt Glowacki, a man born without legs, diversity is an important issue especially among teenagers and, he said, the best way to explain diversity is by watching “South Park” and “Family Guy.”
Glowacki told about 75 people Wednesday night that parents in the U.S. spend only about 38.5 minutes per week talking to their kids. And with more TVs in each American household than residents, the TV is an alternative source for kids to receive education on moral and societal values.
Glowacki intentionally joked at his own expense as he rolled up the ramp onto the stage of the East Ballroom in the Lory Student Center so as to point out the elephant in the room: The fact that his legs stopped at his thigh.
“Political correctness is crap,” he said, “but there are lots of angry handicapped people out there that stand by it.”
Glowacki encourages people to learn from “South Park” and “Family Guy” because they put everything out there – race, disability and appearance – and still provide lessons.
He started his campaign to break down racial and social barriers and spread diversity in college and has since given over 200 presentations and won two awards for his work over time.
“The idea of diversity is getting to know someone from the inside,” Glowacki said.
At his presentation Wednesday, Glowacki showed a number of video clips to help make his point. The first clip was from an episode of “Family Guy” in which Peter Griffin, the main character, almost loses his family as a result of his plastic surgery binge.
He said it represented the idea of ‘lookism’ or discriminating against people based on the way they look.
“Its important for you to understand,” said Glowacki, “The images of beauty you’re comparing yourselves to are no more real than these cartoons.”
Glowacki also provided another “Family Guy” example in an episode where Joe, Peter Griffin’s paraplegic neighbor, competes in the “Special People’s Games” to depict the problem of ‘able-ism’, or discriminating because someone is handicapped.
Glowacki made up “gimp-phobia” in place of able-ism because, to him, it is more accurate.
“I see disabilities as challenges we have to overcome,” Glowacki said. “Have you ever had a flat tire on your car? That’s a disability.”
Finally, Glowacki attacked racism with an episode of “South Park” where Stan and Token, the show’s only black student, fight about Stan’s understanding of Token’s status as a minority.
He used this episode to explain how no one can really understand what it is like to be a part of a certain minority, but at the same time, everyone is a part of some minority.
Several students commented on Glowacki’s performance and said they appreciated his take on diversity.
“(Glowacki) is very funny and has a lot of energy,” said Theresa Wellington, a freshman journalism and technical communication major. “He uses humor to break down barriers.”
Others applauded the university’s commitment to promoting these social issues.
“It’s really cool that CSU addresses the issues within diversity,” said Jesse Casaubon, a senior pre-med major and member of the Contemporary Issues sect of the Associated Students of CSU. “He brought forth a lot of points I, and a lot of other people on campus, never would’ve considered.”
Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.