Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Contestant Who Is Blind

Is anyone else watching Master Chef?

American Idol for amateur chefs- it is one of the few reality TV shows that I follow.

Last night I finally had a chance to watch the first episode on Hulu where one hundred contestants have a chance to impress the judges with ONE dish. I love to cook, and while I am definitely not the calibre of Master Chef, it is amazing to watch those who truly are passionate about cooking and are sacrificing everything to pursue their dream.

The three judges on this show are world famous experts, so it only makes sense that they are extremely harsh in their criticisms. It only makes sense that they lady who made fried frog legs covered in some sort of beige gravy be told that her dish is the worst dish they have ever seen on the show.

They mince no words. They serve their opinion exactly how it is even though at times perhaps their words could use a dash of kindness. (like what I did there? hehe)

So last night when the very last contestant was operating entirely without the use of her eyes, I was floored.

They accepted a contestant who is blind.

I am torn about this.

In one sense, I think it is awesome that they are showcasing how a disability doesn't hold you back; how you can still pursue your dreams right along side those who aren't fighting against such obvious struggles. (Even though I wonder if they put her in just to say that their show is disability friendly. Is this a marketing strategy?)

But then I thought about how much longer it takes her to finish simple tasks because she is down one sense. Is it fair to hold her to the same time constraints? Is it fair to yell at her in the same way they do the other contestants when her dish isn't perfect? (she's still doing it far better than I ever could.)

Should she be given special accommodations? Should she be allowed to compete on the same level as the other contestants when her disability might very well get her disqualified because she can't work fast enough? Pretty much every level of the competition is timed.

In school, such a student would be given extra time to complete tests- be given extra accommodations to insure success. But this is real life. Success doesn't come in a neatly wrapped package of extra help, individualized and fought over by a team of teachers. Especially on a competitive TV show. It's cook eat cook in a rather unsupportive environment.

I am torn.

I am excited that she is on the show, being given a chance to fight for her dream.

But I am terrified of how they're going to treat her because they are famous for their insensitive judgments and throwing dishes straight in the trash screaming how horrible it is while the contestant stands trembling in front of them.

I cried when she was accepted after they tasted her awesome cooking because I was so proud of her success. I'm sure I will BAWL if she's disqualified because she couldn't finish the mystery box challenge in 90 minutes because it took her too long just to figure out what was under the box and then where to find the extra ingredients.

They are NOT nice about how they disqualify people. She is so brave to put herself out there like that.

To Joe she says

"I hear you give mean looks. It's a good thing I can't see them."

while he was tasting the dish she prepared.

I guess I keep thinking of Addison and how I would want her treated in such a situation. I know that the disability of blindness is different than a mental disability. But part of me just wants to wrap her in a giant hug and not allow her to get hurt even though the very definition of "putting yourself out there" means that you will probably get hurt.

So yes, I am torn. I will be watching with great anticipation to see how she is treated on this show.

I am prepared to cry great tears of sorrow if they are jerks to her.

I hope not.

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