Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hannah Montana

November approaches us very quickly. Diabetes Awareness Month is all the buzz in the diabetes community. This is the time of year when it's much easier to get our word out and to educate those on what it is like to live with diabetes. There are activities, World Diabetes Day, and events like the National Luminary Lighting Event. There will be spots on television talking about diabetes and statistics and things that can be done to prevent diabetes (hopefully they will metion that Type 2 is the one you can prevent).

Sadly, there is still VAST misinformation in the mainstream community and the media continually helps to feed this misinformation. This is a subject that all of us here in the Diabetes OC tend to mention on a fairly regular basis.

Today Kerri posted an interesting blog post about an upcoming episode of Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel. If you even know of a child under the age of about 14, you know who Hannah Montana is. On Kerri's post she linked the bootlegged copy of the episode that someone had sent her. After watching it myself, I was highly disturbed.

In the episode, Oliver, Miley's best friend, gets diabetes. At first he tried to hide it from Miley and Lilly but they find out by accident from the school nurse. Afterwards, they spend the whole show trying to keep Oliver from eating any sugar. At the end, Oliver is talking to them about diabetes and saying how he really wants a cupcake, but he just CAN'T have it. Basically, it is mentioned several times that diabetics shouldn't have much sugar. While, I agree that NO ONE should eat a ton of sugar, the whole episode is made out that Oliver can't have ANY sugar.

I know that parents in the Children With Diabetes community are raising a fuss. I, myself, went to the Disney site and left a message. I posted it below.

While I find it highly unlikely that Disney will pull this episode, I thought I had to at least let my opinion be known.

Hannah Montana is a hugely influential show on the young people in America. And Disney is misinforming an entire generation. While we in the Diabetes community fight constantly to bring more awareness to this disease that affects so many people, Disney seems to be able to come in, in one swift motion (or one 30 minute episode!) and destroy what we are working so hard to build: AWARENESS

As I'm sure you are aware, November is National Diabetes AWARENESS Month. Awareness being the key word here. And while I admire the attempt at adding a character with diabetes to the show, Hannah Montana, you have gotten it WRONG! Diabetics can and do eat sugar! A person with diabetes does not produce insulin. Insulin is necessary in the body for the carbohydrates that are consumed. And while sugar is a carbohydrate, 1 Snickers bar will raise my blood sugar just as much as 3 slices of whole wheat bread. Period. By having an episode in which Oliver is not supposed to have sugar, you are misinforming an entire generation of young people in what diabetes really is like. Not only do you make them think that Oliver can NEVER have sugar, you also never show a blood sugar meter, insulin, a shot, or an insulin pump. This is a GROSSLY inaccurate presentation of Type 1 diabetes. As for my credentials in writing you on this subject...I have been living with Type 1 diabetes for 23 years. If that ain't enough knowledge, I don't know what is. I encourage you to pull this episode immediately. Re-write it. And give an accurate description of diabetes. Thank you.


Lee Ann Thill said...

I can't bring myself to watch it. I know it'll send my BG soaring because that sort of absurd fiction generated by the media about diabetes makes my blood boil. It' so grossly irresponsible, and I'm sure as the parents on CWD have asserted, will just make the lives of their children that much more challenging. You'd think in this century, diabetic children could live without being constantly challenged by their own peers with outdated beliefs about this disease.

Ugh. It just sickens me.

You wrote a great letter. I wish I was hopeful that Disney would care, but at least you told them like it is - eloquent, to the point, and with fewer curse words than I would have been tempted to use.

Cara said...

Thanks Lee Ann. I was worried on how to write it. And I had to throw the "ain't" in just because it's me. :) Like you, I don't think Disney will care, but it can't hurt to try.

Karen said...

I agree with Lee Ann - I think your letter was perfectly written. Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the episode before it got yanked from YouTube. But I believe putting incorrect information out there is worse than putting no information out at all. Unless you can get it right, leave it alone!

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Actually, what struck me about the episode was how totally lame and dumb HM actually is...! Glad you wrote and helped get it yanked!