Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Dating show for the disabled
We knew this was a sensitive topic when we drove out to the Netherlands from Germany. A dating show for disabled people had never been done before and the question is, whether the people that actually go on such a show are being exploited for the audience’s amusement and the producer’s profit?
Our crew certainly had very mixed feelings doing a story about the show.
In the town of Nijmegen, we met Peter Kunnen who is one of the contestants on the show called “Love at Second Sight.” Peter can only limp with a crutch since he had a car accident 17 years ago. He says he has trouble finding a girl, because they only judge him by his looks when he meets them and many think he’s a freak just because he limps.
Lydia van Dam was the second contestant we met. She has a severe birth defect and has been in a wheelchair since birth. I asked her why she would put herself in the public by displaying her disabilities on TV. She put it simply: “I am physically disabled, I am not mentally disabled. I know exactly what I’m getting into.”
That hit the spot. Maybe the public shouldn’t be so worried about offending disabled people. Maybe that’s a form of pity that’s unfair to them, and which they don’t need, we were thinking.
Peter says he can’t understand all the fuss about the show. He says it’s only people without disabilities that are appalled by the program, disabled people are not. Bluntly Peter added, what disabled people really need is less pity and more respect.
Peter is a professional DJ, and he teaches media classes at Dutch schools. Lydia is a computer whiz. Both them have are managing their lives on their own overcoming the hurdles that stand in their way every day.
In the end the disabled dating show seemed a lot less controversial to us than we would have imagined at the beginning of our research.
You can click here to watch the report.
-- From Frederik Pleitgen, CNN Berlin Correspondent
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