When TV inspires–and aspiresBy Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Many of the images we see on TV don’t provide good examples for us to emulate, as they are calculated to appeal to our baser instincts and the “least common denominator” in viewers’ interests.
Once in a rare while, however, the medium gifts us with inspiring role models of individuals who rise above extreme personal limitations or difficult circumstances, and make something of themselves despite those limitations, which would make most people simply give up the fight.
This past month, those inspiring examples were provided by the following TV features: On the finals of the talent competition, “So You Think You Can Dance,” a guest performer from China blew viewers away with his unique dance number: He was a teenage boy with only one leg, and yet, with the help of two canes, he put on quite a dexterous show, despite his major disability. The icing on the cake: His performance wasn’t only inspiring, but also technically superlative—and beautiful!
Interestingly, just a few days before on “Pilipinas Got Talent,” a local dance group featured another young dancer who was a paraplegic, with two legs that he couldn’t stand on, let alone dance with.
And yet, because he had built up his upper body strength to such an amazing degree, he was able to execute head stands and other difficult physical feats that his fellow dancers wove into their group’s hip-hop and acrobatic-dancing choreography, for maximum effect.
Coincidentally, only a few days after we watched the “Pilipinas Got Talent” show, a third TV feature about Kevin Michael Connolly, an even more physically disabled man, was telecast on a US TV program. He was born without legs, yet he moved around quite briskly—on a skateboard!
Even more impressively, he had his own TV reality-challenge show, titled “Armed & Ready,” that required him to perform amazing feats of strength and gumption, like pulling himself up a precipice, etc.
The TV show has inspired many other people not to be limited by their physical disability. It has similarly motivated people with no disability to further develop their own skills and talents.
After all, if people with physical limitations can live fuller lives, “able” individuals have no excuse to let other problems, like psychological inhibitions, pull them down!
Finally, still in keeping with this piece’s theme related to rising above one’s disabilities, we are happy to hear that a film is being made on the inspiring life of a Filipino woman without arms who, among other achievements, has learned how to fly a plane! Make a mental note to watch the inspiring drama when it’s shown later this year.
We’re grateful to the people involved in the productions we’ve cited, because they go way beyond the TV-film scene’s standard “popcorn” mentality, and use their shows not just to divert but also to inspire—and
We don’t expect everybody to do this, since the piper must be paid. But, when it happens, our faith in the strengths and worth of the TV medium is renewed and restored.
The acts of courage and determination may be small, but when the TV cameras focus on them and transmit their images to many viewers’ homes, their ability to provide persuasive role models acquires powerful, cumulative force!
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