Hannah Montana Does Diabetes?
Here I am again, stepping waaaay outside of my comfort zone and admitting that I've seen that ridiculous TV show "Hannah Montana." My niece M (formerly "Chris's niece M," but now that he and I are married, she's my niece, too!) has made me watch Hannah Montana many times, and it makes her giggle, so I tolerate it.
Now we all know that Hanna Montana is played by Miley Cirus. Miley Cirus used to date Nick Jonas. (Gag - I can't believe I'm writing this, but there's a point. Bear with me being all TigerBeat.) Nick Jonas was diagnosed with diabetes in November 2005. And in an episode airing on November 2nd, diabetes makes an appearance on Disney's Hannah Montana show.
I've come full circle. Finally. ;)
This upcoming Hannah Montana show was brought to my attention by one of the wonderful CWD parents (full disclosure: I love the CWD parents. They remind me of my own mom and dad, and they rock!), and she wanted to know if I could help get the word out about this upcoming episode. I watched the bootlegged show on YouTube several times, and I can see why the parents are up in arms about this.
Parents are protectors. That is their job, and the parents of kids with diabetes are the ultimate protectors, acting as external pancreases while maintaining a normal life for their child. So when a show that kids are rabid for, like Hannah Montana, highlights diabetes, there's this sense of hope. Like, "Hey, Disney is involved with Nick Jonas. They are tuned into kids. They won't screw this up."
But did they?
If you watch the episode, you'll see plenty of references to diabetes, some accurate and some completely eye-rolling. Calling the character with diabetes "sugar boy"? Pointless. (I'm not the most PC person you'll ever meet, and if someone called me "sugar girl," I wouldn't care. But if it were my kid receiving that moniker, I'd rip heads off. Yet I've digressed.)
However, the thing that struck me as completely off-base was the constant theme that Oliver couldn't have any sugar. He spends most of the episode drooling after sweets, fantasizing about cotton candy, and even diving into a trash can to retrieve a tossed out candy bar. The other kids in the show kept talking about how they need to keep sugar away from Oliver, at all costs. This is what made me think, "Uh oh." I get that the show is trying to talk about diabetes in ways that kids can understand, but this theme was dangerous.
So what if Oliver gets low at school? And needs sugar? Is the lesson here that diabetics can't ever have sugar? Holy food police training video. This message sets a dangerous precedent, one that could leave a low diabetic child being denied sugar, if all their peers have to base their knowledge on is Hannah Montana. And yes, I know that education comes in more forms than Hannah Montana, but lots of kid watch this foolish show, and I don't want their impressionable heads filled with misinformation.
I'm not blowing the whistle on this episode, not entirely. I'm glad that diabetes is making its way into mainstream media, and I'm also glad that the end of this show had Hannah Montana and her friends reassuring Oliver that he was still the same guy and still their friend. That's pretty damn important. I just want to see this positive message of acceptance accompanied by accuracy.
Watch the video (there are three parts) and let me know what you think. Do you feel like this episode presented factual diabetes information? Were there parts you liked? Didn't like? Wanted changed? Are you of the mindset that all exposure is good exposure? That intentions were good with this episode? Or do you expect more from Disney? Are you inclined to write a letter? Plain don't care? Are you sick of my questions? Who the hell is Hannah Montana, anyway?
Phew! I'm off to read the newest issue of TigerBeat.