Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Passing of Stella Young, Australian Comedian, Writer and Disabilities Activist

Very sad to learn of the passing of Stella Young, who was a comedian, writer and disabilities activist. She was 32 years old.

In her honor, here are a few of her smart, insightful clips. First, a stand-up bit from 2010 which includes a story about her discovering and then entering a competition where the award was a party of little people:

And here's a more recent clip of Young giving a TedTalk on "inspiration porn" or the ways images of disabled people, often doing everyday activities, are supposed to remind people how "lucky" they are, with a few choice quotes below:
"I use the word porn very deliberately because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case we're objectifying disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, motivate you so you can look at them and think, no matter how bad my life is, it could be worse: I could be that person. 
But what if you are that person? I've lost count of the number of times that I've been approached by strangers wanting to tell me how brave I am... they were just kind of congratulating me for getting up in the morning and remembering my own name...
...I use the term disabled people quite deliberately because I subscribe to what's called the social model of disability, which tells us we are more disabled by the societies that we live in than by our bodies and our diagnoses."

Stella Young's performance was sharp, witty, direct and connected with audiences in a way that made them smarter and more aware of the ways they may have been contributing to a world that discriminates against people with disabilities... while making them laugh. She will be missed and her impact will live on.