Jerry Lewis Telethon Controversy


The end of Jerry Lewis Telethon: “The day the clown cried.” During the labor day of 2011, there’s no Jerry Lewis Telethon ever in TV. This is the first time for about 45 years of the show’s airtimes end. That was the time when many people with disability felt happier and relieved.

What’s wrong with Jerry Lewis Telethon? Well… It’s not that he is not trying to help people suffering from muscular Dystrophy. The biggest problem is the way he help them. Yes, there is no doubt that the telethon really raised such amount of money to help its beneficiaries – people with Muscular Dystrophy. But it also brings a destructive label or typecast to those disabled people. His message is as simple as this: “Pity, deserved by crippled children.” However, his critics gave an alternative: “Respect, deserved by people with disabilities.”

The Controversy

Every year of in the duration of the telethon, it was the same. Jerry did all his telethon spiel, showing off a parade of children who are suffering from muscular dystrophy in wheelchairs across the stage of Las Vegas. He let them over-sentimental appeal for donations. They are weeping and mugging and claiming mercy to the destined.

Jerry is calling them Jerry’s kids however, not all of the beneficiaries are kids. 2/3 of them are adults. They didn’t want to be tagged as that, stated by Laura Hershey in 1997. Laura was an activist who organized protests outside the set of the telethon annually.

The money was intended for what Jerry claims every year “the cure” However, every nurse and Doctor will say, “There is no cure.” According to experts, there is no cure when it comes to this kind of physical disorder. But, Lewis is always saying that there is, every labor day.

According to Mike Ervin, who claims himself as Jerry’s kids renegade who happened to be the 1960’s Telethon poster cover, what they need is not a cure. There is no cure, what they need is the help for their mobility and symptoms. They also need mode of transportation and livelihood opportunities or a link to employment.

Highlights of the Jerry Lewis Telethon

1973 – He held up a child with the said disorder and said that God goofed; correcting the mistake is up for the people.

1983 – President Reagan was seen in photos with Jerry and a child for the cover of the poster. The child was only 6 years old and they dressed him with a bow tie and a three piece suit.

1986 – There is a critic that shot Jerry and said he is hypersensitive. Jerry replied and said that it’s hard for them to function as a normal person when they get on the set.

The telethon comes with other several criticisms. There are also events that there are politicians who are getting in the program just for political interests, a thing that the critics are really pointing out. But now, what’s important is, the clown’s show is over. The persons with disability are even happier now.