Julia may be the first Muppet with autism to appear on Sesame Street, but the first Muppet with autism has been around long before the back of the short bus caught any PBS producer’s attention.
The first autistic Muppet was born 10 years ago, when a pimply teen with Asperger’s started a campaign against the NYU Child Study Center. It was not a campaign against the center’s interim director whoring herself out to the federal vaccine program to help it exonerate itself against the families of yet more children it permanently brain-damaged. Rather, the entire campaign was simply against NYU’s advertising related to autism because the ads had offended him. And thus the mainstream media’s own autistic Muppet was born in the baby face of the autistic feelings campaigner named Ari Ne’eman, who could be trotted out at any time to praise the virtues of autism and advocate censoring discussion of the disorder on the pretense of offensiveness. His most recent media appearance was to help fellow autistic Muppet Julia off the Magic Short Bus and into the impressionable minds of young Sesame Street viewers.
Like the Sesame Street Muppets, Ari Ne’eman’s simplistic role and nebbishy look never changed. The dull-but-soft-spoken, chubby-but-clean-cut face of the autism acceptance ideology known as neurodiversity remains as it had in the past with the same talking points and nothing new to offer. In this world of make-believe, autism is normal and there is nothing wrong. It would all be so great, if it weren’t all such a lie.
Julia, like Ari, represents a caricature of the fastest growing childhood neurological disorder in the country. Both send the message that autism is merely a case of social awkwardness as opposed to the debilitating lifelong disability that has robbed so many innocent children of their ability to speak by vaccination. Both send the message that people with autism can just “be themselves” and society and other people will just accept them, no matter how socially off-putting people with autism can be. And both ultimately give people with autism a cop-out excuse – use the mantle of autism to make people feel sorry for you and absolve yourself of any personal responsibility.
Julia and Ari do a disservice to everyone with autism – the really severe whose experiences are simply neglected, and the higher-functioning who are discouraged from taking personal responsibility for their behavior. But unlike Ari, the explanation for Julia can at least be partially explained by ratings.
No young child wants to watch a Muppet who can’t speak and has diarrhea 10 times a day, nor does any such child want to see some awkward Muppet getting bullied into fitting in by bigger, meaner Muppets. Balancing entertainment with reality in this instance is virtually impossible.
Mainstream media has no such excuse for trotting out its own autistic Muppet by the name of Ari Ne’eman for the last decade in order to paint a rosy, unrealistic portrayal of autism. Unlike the ratings-generated Julia, Ari is a Muppet used purely for purposes of spreading propaganda. There is virtually nothing about him that viewers would find genuinely appealing to watch.