The Student Activities Council (SAC) and the Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) welcomed motivational speaker Matt Glowacki to the UWG campus on Wednesday, March 10, in the Campus Center Ballroom for a presentation on “Diversity According to ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park.’”
The event opened with a short introduction from Glowacki. He explained he was born without any legs and how that experience never stopped him from accomplishing his goals, like exceling at sports and finding a career he loved. He created the presentation to help college students understand that diversity affects everyone.
“Television, like all things creative, imitates life,” said Glowacki. “I use clips from ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park’ to help break down mass media’s perceptions on body image, weight and social prejudices.”
Glowacki focused on three main categories in regards to diversity and how they are portrayed in the shows: racism, ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities) and lookism (discrimination based on how someone looks). Examples were plucked from the television programs and used to explain the stereotypical attitudes and behaviors in regards to people’s differences.
One of the clips he showed was from the “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson” episode of “South Park.” Randy, one of the show’s main characters, was selected to go on the popular game show “Wheel of Fortune.” After saying the n-word on national television, Randy is forced to apologize to Jesse Jackson in hopes to return to his normal life before the incident.
“I think it’s a bit odd that whenever someone says something inappropriate about people of color, they have to apologize to him,” said Glowacki. “Here I am with a microphone, a disability and a stage, but I would never tell you to apologize to me if you ever wronged someone with a disability.”
Glowacki also shared his belief that the fashion industry is selling eating disorders. He introduced the idea with a clip from “Family Guy” that showed main characters Stewie and Brian making fun of Meg’s body and weight. Despite the clip’s humor, Glowacki explained how younger audiences are unknowingly internalizing this kind of hatred towards different body types. He compared a photo of a fashion model to a Barbie doll as an example that both women have unrealistic body types.
“The body mass index of a model who 5’9 is 15-17, which is around 115 pounds,” said Glowacki. “A healthy weight for a woman who is 5’9 is between 124-164 pounds – that’s closer to Meg’s size.”
Glowacki closed his presentation by explaining the term “disability privilege.” Even though he classifies himself as a white, heterosexual, land-owning male in America, he is still a part of a minority group due to his disability and therefore receives treatment that he otherwise would not. He shared personal stories about strangers giving him money during the holidays because they assume he is going through a rough time.
“It’s pretty awesome, I know,” said Glowacki. “But what if your minority group made others follow you around the mall when you’re doing a little holiday shopping because they think you’re going to steal?”