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About a year ago, Boing Boing's video production crew was having our weekly content pitch meeting and my colleague Jolon brought up a video project he'd been following called "How's Your News." It was a news program in which the presenters are people with physical and mental disabilities. Some have Downs Syndrome, others cerebral palsy, and so on.
We didn't get around to producing a BB feature, but then just this past weekend, I met with Matt Stone and learned that he and fellow South Park creator Trey Parker are producing a version of How's Your News as a new MTV series. It debuts this Sunday, February 8.
He kindly offered to allow us to take a sneak peek at the first few episodes, and cut together an exclusive preview. That is today's episode of Boing Boing Video.
Matt explained that he and Trey are mostly hands-off with regard to the creative and editorial process on the MTV series, they're more like "godfathers" on the television project. HYN creator and director Arthur Bradford and the correspondents are pretty much in charge. It sounds like MTV has handled the project admirably, too.
When I first saw the internet version, I remember first feeling a little guilty or awkward for laughing at people with disabilities on-screen. But when I watched the MTV episodes in entirety with the BBV crew, I started to feel like I knew these people, and was more comfortable with it the more I watched. Maybe part of the lesson here is that people with disabilities are real people. They don't need me to feel "precious" or "protective" about them. It is okay to laugh with them, and when they are being funny in a comedy series, it's okay to laugh at them, too. Not as people to be pitied, just as people.
Matt Stone tells Boing Boing,
One of the first things that Arthur Bradford said about doing How's Your News as a TV show was that he absolutely didn't want to pitch the show to Lifetime or PBS or anyplace else where you would EXPECT a show like this. He wanted to fly into the center of the sun and have the show on MTV. The How's Your News crew is about redefining expectations and the show is by far their best work. It is my favorite show on television beside South Park....
Heh. And I asked Arthur Bradford to share some words with us, too. He says:
I think the big question everyone has about our TV series goes something like this "Does this show really belong on MTV? Aren't all those kids going to laugh for all the wrong reasons?" I have so many thoughts about that I don't know where to begin, but let me just say that I think this line of questioning does a sort of disservice to both people with disabilities and the kids who watch MTV. People with disabilities don't really need a bunch of watchdogs looking out for their "best interests". They are most often able to do this themselves and I can assure you our cast is extremely proud of the work they did on this show, as are their families. And the kids who watch MTV are much smarter than we are giving them credit for. They deserve something like this, a show that doesn't assume they can't decide things for themselves.
We had a lot of fun shooting this series. Everywhere we went people would stare at the bus and come up and talk to us. For me, as the director, it was often exhausting and sometimes stressful, like when one of our reporters would have a seizure or shit their pants in the middle of shooting something important. Both of these things happened more than I'd like to recall. But it was overall a pretty magical experience and the fact this this show is now going to air on primetime and be available to so many households across America is something we should all rejoice in. It's a small miracle, really. We're like that guy on the British American Idol, Paul Potts, the car phone salesmen who got up there and shook everyone up with his passionate opera voice. He was pure genuine desire and authenticity without the annoying gloss and it was great to see him break through. That's what you'll see on How's Your News: pure, unpolished gems.
And about Jeremy, the HYN correspondent waving to you in the video frame above and in the middle of the trio below (photo), Arthur says:
Jeremy Vest is one of our greatest reporters. He is so eager to talk to everyone and he would not even know how to be a fake douchebag like so many people we see on TV. My favorite moment with him was on the red carpet at the Grammys when he blew off all the big pop stars like Rianna and Slash because really wanted to talk to the guy who did the voice for Kermit the Frog. He literally refused to talk to Slash because he was so concerned that Kermit would leave before he got the chance to say hello. For Jeremy, meeting that muppet was the biggest thrill of the night, that and meeting Wolfgang Puck.
Here's more on the MTV series, which you can catch on-air starting this Sunday, February 8. Notorious crankypants critic Tom Shales at the Washington Post gave it a good review. I'm looking forward to it.