Monday, January 19, 2015

Gifted in "Reel" Life!

When I was small, before I knew - and long before I understood - words like "undiagnosed" and "gifted" and how they applied to me, I loved to read.  I still do.  Back then, I was reading Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, A Wrinkle in Time, and my favorite, so much so that I'm suddenly astounded I neither own, nor have read these books in ages, was a series called "The Great Brain." The first book of the series being published in 1967, there are the usual issues with stereotyping, but when you're looking back at something you loved, you don't really realize how awful it was - kind of like the Hunt For Tiger Lily scene from Peter Pan.

Anyway, growing up, I had a pretty positive impression of gifted children, which I realize now is inherently incomplete and also grossly inaccurate. While I came out of it with the impression of incredible smarts and the ability to rules-lawyer out of anything... the notion of anything relating to overexcitabilities was left well behind - as was the notion that perhaps gifted is not something that is global.  Like, just because you're gifted doesn't mean you're as ridiculously strong in math as you are in language arts.

Then came my adult reading.  I've learned that I assign my own personality to characters I read about - if a character's brainpower is never mentioned, I assume it matches my own.  This has a habit of coloring how I look at my books anymore - particularly if there's a large discrepancy between the two, the most recent example being Sookie Stackhouse from the Southern Vampire Mysteries series.  That was a hell of a disappointment, that one.  But, I digress.

As I got into more books and characters in the last couple years, looking for good read-alouds for Mad Natter, there were more.  Characters like Hermione Granger and Artemis Fowl. Brilliant, but intrinsically flawed... and again, no evidence of any real overexcitabilities - the intellect part of the package alone.  Occasionally, the imaginative OE comes into play, though only when it's plot-appropriate.

Then, you get into mass media portrayals. Where the gifted are on display for people to point and laugh at. Where their overexcitabilities and intensities are the butt of jokes, and the examples of real harm done in similar situations to the real people they represent are glossed over as "aren't they oversensitive, isn't that silly."  It is, quite honestly, no wonder that those of us in the trenches are fighting the uphill battles we are. All anyone ever sees is how the gifted have no problems - except the ones that are chronicled for the average person to laugh at, and feel better about themselves because they're not dealing with. All there is ever shown are the benefits, and even hinting at the pitfalls comes with a punchline - usually meant to shut down the very person who is experiencing the harm - as though their experience doesn't matter, after all, they're so smart, they have the world handed to them, right?

It's no wonder we're fighting this battle.  The gifted are either to be mocked, or have an incredible intellect, with no drawbacks whatsoever. Over, and over, and over again, this is what media is telling us - is it any wonder that our culture, as a whole, believes it?

This post has been a part of the GHF Blog Hop on being Gifted in Reel Life. Please click here for more blogs in this hop!