Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Autism Speaks FAIL Deconstructed

Created using Strip Generator
Teacher: An ironic postmodern statement on so-called charitable organizations that appear to offer sustenance while actually impoverishing those they purport to serve. The flame represents potential destruction masquerading as hope, while the diminutive scale references the minimizing of relevant voices. And then there's the medium...
Student: Hamburger???
Teacher: Wax.
Student: Ugh. Something stinks.
Teacher: This, too, is part of the narrative.


  1. Ma'am, I think you might be too subtle for me, there. In other words, "Huh?"

    I think you are writing about the White Castle Burger Candle, but that's as much as I can figure out about this. Now, if this were about the genuine Crystal gut-bomb burgers, mayhap we could communicate. White Castle = yankees = I don't care.


  2. White Castle = Cheap, small (insufficient for a meal), lacking in nutrients, smelly.

    Autism Speaks = Trivializing, lacking in spritual nutrients (respect, compassion), harmful.

    I thought the (surely unintended) symbolism was spot on. Then I thought, why am I wasting my time thinking about this? The symbolic meaning of a burger candle? So then I pictured myself as a pretentious lecturer explaining it in unnecessarily obtuse terms, when the whole thing might easily be summed up in two words: It Stinks.

    So, perhaps, yes, Bev Blogging FAIL. Damned theory of mind...

  3. *blink* Well, I got it.

    The comic had me laughing, albeit in a kind of hysterical way.

  4. Thank you, Belinda the Nobody. Much appreciated. And I like your name.

  5. I'm afraid I'm lost, too.

    Loved your Squawk video, though, from the last post :-)

  6. Andrea S.,

    1. Darn!
    2. Squawk!

    The New Yorker used to do a feature every year on comics people had complained about being unfunny or incomprehensible. I don't think they do it annually anymore, but just once in a great while. As my friend T. Rex would say, "Oh well...failure!

  7. I didn't get it because I hadn't heard of the burger-candle, but once I googled burger-candle and worked it out I thought it was hilarious.

  8. Sanabituranima,

    Thank you. I appreciate the extra effort you made to read about the Autism Speaks/White Castle promotional candle. I have provided a link marked "context" under the comic to make this easier for others who might still be wondering what the heck this is all about. Squawk!

  9. Bev,

    I didn't get, but I didn't hear about the candle either. I wouldn't chaulk the not-getting-it part to theory of mind, though. Such misunderstandings are due to different levels of awarenes and are not autism-related.

    You don't have to be autistic to use cues your audience isn't aware of. The misunderstanding is not about theory of mind or lack thereof.

    There are people who would attribute this to autism, I'm sure; but it's a logical fallacy that would be used to dismiss you as a communicator. I recommend against internalizing that.

    You're an awesome communicator! Even when your audience is less aware than you are. This wasn't a failure, but a chance to educate us about something we weren't aware of and might not have become aware of were it not for your vigilance.

  10. CAPTCHA word: "moric" :-)

    Actually once you had the Context link there and I clicked on it, it made perfect sense.

    Autism $peaks does it again.

    Of every dollar donated to them, 4 cents goes back to programs in local communities that improve the quality of life of autistic people and their families.

    About 12 cents of that same dollar go to overhead -- Park Avenue Manhattan offices, six-figure salaries, and so on.

    About 23 cents of the dollar go to public relations activities like this, or like the awful "Autism Every Day" and "I Am Autism" videos.

    But that doesn't have to be. You can give that whole dollar instead to *other* autism organizations that actually do more work in your local community to improve the quality of life of autistic people and their families in your own community.

    96 cents on the dollar represent a resurrection of Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound": charitable-contribution dollars flowing *out* of the local community, and donor fatigue ("Sorry, I already gave to Autism $peaks") when *local* autism organizations solicit much-needed funds.


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