Today's post builds on the issues discussed here and involves some audience participation. Got your No. 2 pencil ready? Good!
Step 1: Get a box of tissues.
Step 2: Watch this video. (Seriously, watch it. It's awesome and worthwhile, the rest of the post is about it and, c'mon, what else do you have to do right now?)
Step 3. Discuss.
In particular, I want you to ask yourself whether you think the producers should have indicated his disability earlier or later or not at all. How would your view of his performance have changed if you didn't know his backstory? Would his rendition of "Imagine" been as emotional, poignant and powerful? If he hadn't talked about his disability at all would you have been distracted during his performance, wondering what the deal was? If they hadn't said anything, would you wonder why they kept flashing on a white woman identified as his "mum" and his brother, another young Arabic amputee? Or is that all ultimately not relevant to his singing ability and therefore shouldn't be discussed?
Step 4. Scroll back to 1:20 when one of the judges asks how old Emmanuel is. Note how he responds: "I'm not exactly sure." Do you think he says that every time someone asks his age? Or does he have to decide each time someone asks him this simple question whether it's worth going into the whole story? Also note the pause after his answer. What if he hadn't voluntarily continued to talk about it? What would have been a polite way for the judges to ask about his disability — clearly a fascinating part of who he is — without seeming like they were prejudicial or trying to define him?
At what point do we address the elephant in the room?