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Jennifer Love Hewitt Tackles “Social Issues” while helping the dead “crossover”

September 9, 2011

I have been watching “Ghost Whisperer” now for a few weeks and am enjoying the obvious attempts to address social issues in some of the episodes.  I’m not going to lie; the show is a little hokey.  However it has an element of “mystery” in it (albeit predictable) and I kind of like the “here’s the lesson of the episode” thing it has going on for it (and Jennifer Love Hewitt is smoking hot, like seriously, who are we kidding?).  Socially conscious episodes I’ve seen so far have discussed racism (S1 E19), the dangerous nature of conventional beauty (S2; E6) and domestic violence (S2 E7).  However, I take issue with an episode I saw last night, “The Ghost Within”, Season 2, episode 4.

The entire premise of the show is the Melinda Gordan (JLH) can see and talk to the dead.  They come to her for help, usually needing to communicate with living loved ones.  This episode had an autistic man who was haunting his girlfriend, who is also autistic.  Though his (dis)ability was not made known right away, it was very clear to me that he was likely autistic.  Once Melinda “discovers” his different ability and discusses it with her husband, he says, “I thought people became normal once they died.”  and she responds “Yes, the dead usually lose their disability once they cross over, but for some reason he hasn’t.”

WHAT THE FUCK?  In my opinion, saying a person should become “normal” after they die, therefore happier, is fucked up.  To me, that is like a white supremacist saying that all black people will become white (therefore better) when they die, ensuring eternal happiness and peace.  Now, I don’t know what happens when one dies, and I’m not sure I believe in “heaven”,  “hell” or reincarnation, but I do know that here in the living world there are people who are differently-abled and we need to acknowledge and value their presence.  I realize autism has received a significant amount of attention lately and, presumably, the incidence of children born with autism has grown.  I am glad “Ghost Whisperer” has brought this issue to light, but instead of reinforcing the idea that it’s bad, shouldn’t we, rather continue to study how to better communicate with those who are autistic and encourage others to do the same?

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