There was a recent uproar about an interpreter, Lydia Callis, who had interpreted for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg went on the news to discuss about the aftermath caused by Hurricane Sandy. Hearing people were immediately fascinated by Lydia's facial expressions.
Matter of fact, hearing people were so entertained that they had to make fun of Lydia's facial expressions and signing: Creative Phrases Conjured by Hearing People to Apply What Lydia Is Saying. Hell, even SNL (Saturday Night Live) made a spoof of the situation: SNL Spoof.
Many Deaf people, and some ASL interpreters were offended by this. How dare they (hearing people) make fun of our culture, and our language? If this was a Spanish interpreter speaking/enunciating certain words then I bet you that nobody will bat their eyelashes over this. How rude of them to be making fun of my profession. As an ASL interpreter, I am tired of this.
I do get it.
As a Deaf person, I often smile and restrain myself from physically choking a hearing person when they, intentionally being rude, made fun of signing. Or sometimes I'd smile and secretly laughing on the inside because frankly, they are making themselves a fool while mocking sign language. Do I get offended by this kind of behavior. Yes. On the other hand, I am so accustomed to this to the point that I don't throw a fit over it. Just by letting the person making fun of ASL (American Sign Language) is enough of a punishment for them because I know they are making a fool of himself/herself. So why add fuel to the fire? I tell my Deaf friends about an incident of someone making fun of ASL, then we laugh and poke fun at the hearing person. Most of the time, it's more of stupidity than malicious tendency that a hearing person has by making fun of ASL.
When there's malicious tendencies are involved with making fun then sure, I will speak up and say something because that is crossing the line. This does not happen very often.
This blogger felt that the reaction to Lydia's interpreting was in a poor taste: Interpreters Aren't Funny. The blogger had a point.
Interpreters are not meant to entertain or distract hearing people. Interpreters are there to act as our voice, and our ears. Our interpreters are there to relay information into ASL from a spoken English. They will use facial expressions and body language cues simply because it is how our language is structured. Just like your voice will have inflections to reflect what is felt in the moment...that's how facial expressions and body cues are like for us in our language.
Therefore, this blogger doesn't understand what the big deal is all about. Why poke fun at our culture. Why poke fun at our language. Why do we have to blow it out of the context?
Okay, I am with this blogger most of the time because A) Interpreters are there to do their jobs and B) Rule of the thumb: Only Deaf, HOH, Interpreters, SODA, & CODA people should make fun of Deaf people. If hearing people made fun of Deaf people, with no relations to the Deaf community, then it is often in a poor taste.
At the same time........
To be honest, most of the time, I don't take this seriously. I admit, I do laugh and give hearing people A for being entertaining. I mean, who the hell thinks up of "yoda" for the sign "today". Creative. There is even jokes directed at Deaf people (Marlee Matlin on Seinfeld, Family Guy to name a few). I don't find that offensive. I mean, who really cares. It is just a joke. Don't take it so personal.
Yeah I laughed at the pictures in Creative Phrases that Hearing People Came Up With post link I posted in the second paragaph. So sue me.
Then yesterday, Stu showed me the clip from SNL, that we DVR'ed, showing a clearly hearing person, pretending to be Lydia Callis and interpreting what "fake" Mayor Bloomberg was saying. I laughed. It was not "oh-you-are-being-dumb-so-I-am-laughing-at-you" laugh. It was funny. I liked the clip. I felt it was done in a good humor rather than being malicious toward Deaf culture.
Hey, don't take life too seriously. Besides, it is in a good fun. Why not turn this into an advantage and educate people about Deaf Culture instead of criticizing them for finding this funny? I may be in the minority when it comes to an issue like this so don't assume that everybody feels the same way.
PS: If you are really curious then check out the video down below with Lydia interpreting for Bloomberg.