Humor is a potent professor when it comes to diversity. That's according to an advocate and speaker, who says the hit animated TV comedies South Park and Family Guy have a lot to teach us about our culture.
Matt Glowacki travels the country speaking about diversity and holding popular culture up as a fresh way to engage and and reflect on modern life. Hidden message in South Park and Family Guy help to illustrate, for good and bad, diversity issues, said Glowacki.
"I think they're really great teaching tools because, through the use of parody and satire, they can validate, yet check people's feelings on a variety of subject matters," Glowacki explained. "They're so widely accepted by young people, it's a great brand that they already relate to. What I try to teach people to do is to pay attention when they watch TV. Mostly, we watch and just have a feeling reaction -- we need to think about what we watch. Whether they are confirming biases or demonstrating stereotype, or they are challenging all those things, I just get super excited to teach people about the larger ideas that they're presenting."
"I think they're great teaching tools and yes, they're offensive, but they're designed to be. They're challenging people's belief systems. If you check your feelings while you're watching, they can be really awesome teaching tools."
In addition to being a diversity speaker, Glowacki discovered his inner athlete as a wheelchair basketball player while he was still in school. "A lot of times, wheelchair basketball is the first sport that a person with a disability can play. When you have five-on-five with other players with similar disabilities, for me it was the first time I had a way to measure my strength against someone who was in a situation that was close to mine. It's a level playing field, and it's great."
Matt Glowacki is appearing in the Prairie Room at Illinios State University's Bone Student Center Tuesday, March 28 at 6 PM.
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