Seizures – No Laughing Matter

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Seizure jokes. An all too common occurrence seen within our world. The spotlight tends to shine more prevalent in the Hollywood realm. Seizure jokes used as a punch line by comedians. Seizure jokes used within television shows, by celebrities you may or may not expect. By our youth who may not have a full grasp of what seizures and epilepsy truly have the capability of doing to a person.  Seizure jokes are happening in a plethora of areas within our world and its an extreme sign that we indeed are in need of epilepsy education still.

Hollywood using seizures as a joke or punch-line is nothing new unfortunately. For instance, ‘Tower Heist’ Director Brett Ratner made an apology in the past, upon Greg Grunberg (Who has a son with epilepsy) issuing a boycott over the action-comedy.

Greg Grunberg was upset over an exchange during which Eddie Murphy’s character pokes fun at Stiller’s character over a childhood ailment, calling him “little seizure boy” twice. After watching the trailer, Greg Grunberg expressed his frustration to his Twitter followers.

“TERRIBLY OFFENSIVE TRAILER for #TowerHeist – Making fun @ people w/ seizures is NOT FUNNY & WRONG! “Seizure Boy!” REALLY? #Boycott RT,” he tweeted.

“I am so sorry you are offended. … I sincerely feel bad,” Ratner wrote to Grunberg.

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As yet an additional example, this past Sunday, as my husband and I sat down to unwind after a long week, we decided to catch the brand new ABC television show Rising Star. I was intrigued by the idea of how the audience has the final say in real time so we both decided to tune in to watch. The show went on to be quite interesting to say the least. I was especially impressed by Jesse Kinch’s performance. However, following the performance of Jesse Kinch, I was stunned by Brad Paisley’s comments regarding Jesse’s performance.

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I could tell too, by looking at those on stage and around Brad Paisley, they were slightly uncomfortable with the comments made as well. Following Jesse Kinch’s amazing performance, Brad Paisley commented “I think you gave someone a seizure at home. I think you killed somebody.” Upon hearing those words, my husband and I both looked at each other in astonishment as if to verify if we had heard what we had heard correctly. It indeed did prove to be true. In that moment, I felt a mix of both hurt and anger at the comments I just heard. The fact that some of the audience members laughed at the joke that had just been made. Finding it funny. I certainly did not find that to be funny and I knew that thousands of others would not find that to be funny either. Jesse Kinch, you could tell by the kindness in his eyes and the look upon his face, wanted no part of that comment either but was gracious in his response.

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Jesse Kinch – I Put A Spell On You – Rising… by IdolxMuzic (Brad Paisley Comment at 5:44)

Upon hearing this comment, I felt compelled to take to Facebook, Instagram and also Twitter, via my account and The Epilepsy Network (TEN), and let Brad Paisley know how hurtful such a comment he made was, to myself and to so many living with a seizure condition and epilepsy. There was so much that I wanted to say, but as its known, Twitter only allows 140 characters so I asked if he would retweet my video “The World Needs To Know” in support of Epilepsy Awareness and become better educated on the facts of epilepsy. That, joking about seizures is no laughing matter. Some have died as a result of a seizure. Jokes about seizures are hurtful and offensive. Not knowing whether or not a response would be given, I felt satisfied in knowing that I had done what was necessary to make the point clear and left it at that.

When I had awoken the next morning, I arose to discover that fellow epilepsy advocates, those also on the journey of epilepsy, friends and family, and people I’d never met before, from around the globe, had taken notice of Brad Paisley’s comment on Rising Star on Sunday night and had taken notice of my step forward to let Brad Paisley know that joking about seizures is not a laughing matter.

Even more surprising, Brad Paisley himself took notice of my comments. He personally reached out to me and The Epilepsy Network (TEN). Retweeting my Epilepsy Awareness video “The World Needs To Know” and apologizing for his poor choice of words. Extending his full support for epilepsy awareness.

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In seeing Brad Paisley’s response, it made me happy to know that he reached out to let me and the entire epilepsy community know that he did not mean to offend. Too, it let me know that epilepsy awareness truly is very much needed still in our world today. Brad Paisley has since followed The Epilepsy Network (TEN) on Twitter and says that he will be sure to look more into what epilepsy is about, which is a positive result I feel in all of this.

Some have said that they would like him to make a public statement of apology on next Sunday’s show. I think that would be an excellent idea too! If he would do that and ABC would allow it, I would be smiling all for him to do this. Whether this will happen, only time will tell. You know I will be watching this Sunday.

As for Brad Paisley reaching out and apologizing, I do thank him most certainly for doing so. My hope is that in going forward, he will be more compassionate on the topic of seizures and to not joke about seizures in any way, shape or form. Perhaps, he may take the time to learn more about epilepsy and seizures and donate his time to charities and events. It is an even greater hope that one day, seizures and epilepsy will no longer be used as a joke or a punch line by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Especially in Hollywood.

Seizures are just not a laughing matter.

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