Members of the Self Advocate Council of the National Down Syndrome Congress this week sent a letter protesting the Emmy award nomination given recently to “Down Syndrome Girl,” a musical number that appeared this spring on Fox Television’s “Family Guy.”
The number, which was honored in the category “Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics,” describes a character with Down syndrome as a “little whore” who is “poorly grooming,” “as-of-Monday-shoelace-tying,” “just a little crooked walking” and “a special person’s wettest dream.” The lyrics also include a reference to the “shorty bus.”
The Council, composed of people who have Down syndrome, characterized the song as “hateful” and said its recognition by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences carries the unjust message that “those of us who have Down syndrome are less valuable than others and deserve ridicule and abuse because of our disability.”
The letter, which was directed to Academy chairman John Shaffner, asked that the song not be aired on the upcoming Aug. 29 Emmy Award broadcast. An excerpt:
When the organization you head honors this kind of prejudicial materials, particularly on an award show that is meant to celebrate the best of television programming, it means that those of us with developmental disabilities will have to fight even greater discrimination. What you promote impacts us very personally. We will be taunted more and treated less humanely, we will struggle to be included at school and in our communities. We will have to fight even harder for jobs.
… We implore you as the Chief Executive Officer of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and someone who has brought satisfaction to millions through your exceptional production design talents, to promote positive portrayals of those of us with Down syndrome on television.
We beseech you and the Academy to balance this discriminatory song with the truth about us … We are real people with real feelings trying our best to live productive lives in our communities.