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NF2 on House

Posted May 07 2009 9:23pm
When I sit down on Monday nights to watch House I expect to be mildly insulted and wickedly entertained. Unfortunately last night I was just shocked by the amount of ignorance spread by the writer's of the show. The episode centered around a young deaf wrestler who falls to the ground with exploding sensations in his head. After a bit of investigating he is diagnosed with "NF2 cancer" and told treatment would be relatively simple, and that afterward he may regain his hearing which he lost at age 4. Throughout the show the boy is referred to as an idiot and insulted repeatedly for being a well adjusted deaf child. At one point during a simple brain biopsy House directs Chase to put in a Cochlear Implant, without any planning or a specialist. It was actually hilarious. The boy wakes up and House is in his hospital room tuning his CI as he begins to awaken. He can immediately hear the tiniest of sounds, and within hours is asking if his speech sounds slurred as he hears his deaf girlfriend for the first time. He looks at her pitifully as she walks away. House is excused from forcing this contraption onto an unwilling patient because he "did the idiot a favor" by providing him with hearing. I expect that sort of belligerence from House, but even the other characters mirrored his viewpoint. The deaf boy was called an idiot and a moron repeatedly, and at the end when he is touched to hear his name on his Mother's voice he accepts his new gift and all is supposedly well.

I can deal with the fact that House is a fictional show, and not known for medical accuracy. How can they disregard the potential ignorance they are spreading about NF2 though? I do not have cancer, now all of my friends who watch House are probably thinking oh lord she has cancer! Should I be expecting muffin baskets? (Probably not.) When you are deafened by NF2 removing the tumors does not bring your hearing back, and may in fact also cause facial paralysis and disequilibrium. So aside from the general ignorance of NF2, the attack on Deaf Culture was nothing short of hurtful. There were not a handful of tongue in cheek remarks, the episode was a nonstop diatribe about the stupidity of Deaf people to stay hearing impaired when there are supposedly magical implants that can fix anyone. These implants rarely work on people with NF2, and I already deal with people on a daily basis who treat me with disdain and contempt, as though it's my own fault I am deaf. Thank you House for further increasing the misconceptions of deaf people, and causing all of us Deaf to turn off our TVs feeling like we just got beat up in gym class. For a show that generates millions of dollars in profit, you would think they could afford a medical fact checker, or at least a writer with enough common sense to write a witty joke without being bigoted toward an entire culture of people. The show had a chance to be a platform for the deaf, and instead reminded most of us exactly why many Deaf don't want anything to do with the hearing world.
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