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Matt Glowacki addresses how TV depicts diversity in free presentation

By Ryland Sichting
On March 20, 2011

Matt Glowacki doesn't have any legs. That did not stop him running his own business while he was in high school, making specialized wheelchairs for  MOGO Wheelchairs or playing for the U.S. Paralympic volleyball team.

On Thursday night Glowacki delivered a presentation on "Diversity According to South Park and Family Guy" at 7 p.m. in the Culp Center auditorium.

"I'm going to teach you how to have a different conversation about diversity," Glowacki said to begin the presentation.

He then used clips from the popular television shows to help explain on the way that people view others with differences.

"Family Guy" was used to talk about "lookism," the term that Glowacki used to describe discrimination based on the way people look. He used it in specific reference to how those with disabilities are treated, and how modern societies view beauty.

Glowacki said that the average female model is 5'9" and weighs 115 lbs., but a healthy woman of that height should be 130 lbs.

A clip from "South Park" was used during a part of the presentation about racism and about how minorities are perceived.

During the presentation Glowacki mentioned several statistics regarding television use in American households. Among them, that Americans spend 35-55 hours per week watching television. Glowacki said that this makes television a major force in our culture.

The politically correct movement is not a good thing, according to Glowacki, because its terms set up a lower expectation for people because they are different. He also contests the prohibition of certain words.  "A word is just a word until somebody says it is a bad word," he said.

Glowacki said that a better way to promote diversity is on a personal basis. He asked those in attendance if they had ever heard a friend say something angry about another type of people. It is best to confront this situation by saying "When you say things like that it is hard for me to be your friend," he said. This statement helps to open up a meaningful discussion.

Glowacki talked about how he believes shows like "South Park" and "Family Guy" are positive influences on discrimination in American society for people that understand the humor, but he added that  "nobody under 13-years old should watch because they can't understand the satire."

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