On a Thought-Provoking PSA

I was going to include this in the next Opinion in the Shorts, but this is great mental fodder.

While watching the Today show this past weekend, I heard about a Public Service Announcement featuring actress Olivia Wilde regarding World Down Syndrome Day (Monday 21 March 2016). The brief report was about the varying reactions people have about this PSA.

Watching this is worth your time as it stimulates thoughts. What are your thoughts about this video? Praise or criticism?

Here’s a link to Down Syndrome International.


56 thoughts on “On a Thought-Provoking PSA

    • Pauline,
      I think you have hit the basic intent of the message. A question for you – Do you think the PSA would have the same effect if the lady with Down was shown the entire time instead of Olivia Wilde?


      • No. I could tell by the voice it is not going to be Olivia Wilde [plus similar ads have been shown here in times past for raising awareness] But what happens in your PSA is that the speaker is a high functioning, beautiful Downs girl and those eyes just pierce your heart, don’t they?

        I was going to say, and then deleted from my first comment, that if everyone was raised to feel that way about themselves and to picture themselves as successful, then the need for such PSA’s would disappear because it is only low self esteem and ignorance that creates prejudice and fear in the face of difference. What do you think?


        • I’m sure the organizers of this video took many factors when picking the person for this video. As you said, they had to speak well, and her eyes are powerful.

          I’ve greatly enjoyed my volunteer time with DS adults as ballroom is great for them … and it;s also good gathering for them socially.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with Pauline…to see oneself positively is a wonderful gift (whether one has Down syndrome or not). And the girl with Down Syndrome at the end of the PSA was actually quite beautiful, in my estimation. My criticism would be that they used an actress instead of the actual person…..did they not believe in their own message? Using an actress WITHOUT Down Syndrome seems not only unnecessary but even dishonest.


      • I’m not good at knowing what effect these kinds of things have on others….but for me, there’s a disconnect in the way this PSA is constructed. I was distracted because I kept saying to myself: that girl has nothing about her—no physical characteristics, no limitations— to identify her as having Down Syndrome, so what’s the problem?….Are people with Down Syndrome always recognizable as such simply by their physical appearance? By the limits that fate has placed on them? That’s the elephant-in-the-room question here….and it is being glossed over with wishful idealism. PSA stands for Public Service Announcement….it makes me wonder who is doing the preaching here, and which “public” is being served.


        • I asked because I respect your opinion … so thanks for sharing. Your point is the essence of any criticism of this PSA. I’ll share this with you.

          I sent this video to a person who has a son with DS. Her response: As a family member, this doesn’t make me feel good.

          I responded to her with my thoughts, which have been shaped by my volunteering at ballroom dance gathering for adults with DS.

          She then responded: They see themselves as normal, so thanks for bringing me back.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Because of my interactions with the group on a weekly basis, I see them more as everyday people more than I ever have … thus the reason I comment Wilde for her involvement in the PSA and understand the message behind it.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see both sides of this discussion, Frank. It’s a strong message that some may find empowering while others find insulting. But I don’t think it’s for those of us not affected by Downs to judge because really, what do we know about living with this. My guess is those affected with Downs, and their families, will have a mixed reaction, some seeing it as a positive message of determination and reflection while others may be insulted by the fact that the one person who views themself in a positive light is only featured at the very end.
    The intention of this PSA was to educate and enlighten ignorance. If nothing else it has brought that discussion to the table.


    • George,
      Interesting perspective. I passed the link to a friend who has a son with Down – and her response was, “As a family member, this makes me feel terrible.” …. Then I explained to her my thoughts, which happens that she greatly influenced, and part of her response was “Thanks for pulling me back.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think quick reaction to this by those affected by downs might be the same until they understand, as you explained, there might be a greater good. That’s why I think their reactions are the most honest and meaningful to our own.


        • I understand so I guess my question would then be why cast a “normal” person in that role? Why now someone with Downs living a normal life?


        • Because the audience doesn’t see someone with DS as normal … and this PSA is aimed at the general audience … not those with DS. Besides, how normal is the life of those with DS (compared to the rest of us)? At the DS event I attend, I believe most (if not all) are driven there by someone else.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed, so do you think it might be better to show a DS doing all these normal things to show the general audience that they can function like everyone else even if it’s not on the same level or do you think the GA still wouldn’t understand?


        • No I don’t because odds are they may not do them as well. Let’s face it … most things that involve face-hand is a struggle for many … but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it … and I think this PSA addresses how they see themselves doing the action, but not how others see it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought this as a wonderful video…
    As you may remember Frank I worked for 7 years supporting adults with learning difficulties.. Among these were two mature ladies with Downs Syndrome.. Both beautiful individuals with very different personalities.. Just like any one of us..
    Each of them were Fun loving who got excited and disappointed, cried and laughed and yes got angry.. Nothing different from all the emotional turmoil we go through.. And they had Dreams and aspirations just as we ..
    I took them both out individually socialising on day trips, and on shopping trips.. To me they were happy individuals who communicated well how they felt.. And I saw them each as their own personality like any of the friends I would go out with shopping we would laugh and have fun..
    Sadly though it was also my experience that not all of the General Public felt that way.. Even when i took out often those with Autism. People would GLARE at them as if they had two heads.. and TUT in disgust and move away.. I have even known people to cross the street early to avoid being near those with learning difficulties when we took them on outings..

    There is still a lot of work to be done to educate people.. But for the grace of God go I..

    So any thing to promote the divide is good news in my book Frank..
    A great share.
    Thank you


  4. Frank, I think the PSA works for a general audience to raise awareness but I do very much get the concern those intimately involved with this challenge feel about having a celebrity be featured…and also the focus. People all want to be themselves and treated as equals in the human “race” first and foremost.


  5. I agree with Debra. It’s frankly we who judge people because they look different. We shouldn’t — regardless of what it is that makes them look different.

    It was beautifully done.


  6. It is an excellent question. “How do we all see someone with DS.” Maybe if it causes enough people to answer the question and dislike their answer enough to change then it will have done its job.


  7. I thought this was a powerful video, Frank. I think it made a brilliant point. As a viewer, I watched Olivia Wilde with all the strengths and the confidence that come in being fit, beautiful, famous, talented…and it wouldn’t be any surprise to think that she would see herself with these attributes and more. At the conclusion when we meet the young woman asking “How do you see me?” it hits hard that my first thought is to to be surprised, and perhaps to notice limitations. This is more pronounced because of the contrast–Olivia Wilde sets us up to see the extremes in examining her near-perfection (according to Hollywood standards, not the real world.) If the purpose of this video was to make me think–it was successful. We may all say that we see the unique qualities in each person and admire their individuality and strength, but for most of us, there is still a reflex that compares and makes judgments off of those comparisons. I guess I had a lot to say, huh? I could have stopped at “Nice video!” 🙂


  8. I have direct experience with a similar condition. My sister was born with a form of childhood epilepsy that affects brain development. She did not have any abnormal features, as in DS, but she was unable to do math, remember her own address or phone number, or concentrate well enough to hold any kind of independent job. On the other hand, she was a very social person who had a marvelous recall of peoples’ names and even those of their children. After our mother’s death, Susan lived in a group home under supervision until her death in 2014.

    The PSA for Downs Syndrome is OK. It raises awareness that there are people who need help in society, who cannot be independent and who have feelings and concerns just like the rest of us. This continues a trend that is good in society. It wasn’t that many generations ago that the mentally-handicapped were sent to institutions together with the mentally-ill, or before that, to prisons.

    If the PSA does nothing else, it is a reminder to society of the value of research to eliminate birth defects. It even might remind people that while we all benefit from equal rights and freedoms under our Constitution, we are far from equal in our abilities and talents that span a broad continuum. Those who politically promote self-actualization and competition as the be-all and end-all of society and who want to shrink the government are ignoring society’s collective social responsibility.

    I would have liked to post a picture of Susan here, but I don’t know how to do that. But, she was a beautiful woman.


  9. Good video and great discourse in the comment stream, Frank. I understand why they used an actress but almost wish they didn’t. I also hate the term “normal” when referring to any deviation to what is supposed to be accepted perception. I worked many years with the developmentally disabled and acquired brain injured– they all seemed their own picture of normal to me. I’m forever grateful for that job and what it taught me. What it added to me as a person and my humanity.


    • Audra,
      I admit using “normal”, and I understand your point about it because I had a bit of discomfort doing so but didn’t know what else to use … so thanks for bringing that point up in the discussion.

      I continue to support Olivia Wilde’s role in the video because (for me) it helps drive the point. … yet, I understand that the perspective of this video depends on the viewers lens of perspective. For me, I lean on my teaching experience with learning disability students (LD) and my volunteer time with DS adults. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


      • My comment about using the term normal was aimed universally not at you using the term. We all find ourselves using the label in one way or another. It’s impossible not to… Unfortunately.
        And I liked the ad. It’s well done and very important. A good “voice” to be heard and as always, a good share by you.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 296 – A Frank Angle

  11. My eldest sister (cousin) was born in 1946 with Downs. My Aunt (step mother) was told to place her in an institution because her life expectancy was less than 15 years and her quality of life was poor, on top of which she would affect the quality of the families life. Candy was the first of 6 children. My Aunt and Uncle told the medical community to go to hell, thankfully.

    Candy was a huge and wonderful part of our family. She passed away three years ago (so much for life expectancy). She was never able to live independently, she did though hold a job for 20 years. She did have a full life within her abilities.

    The video made a great point for those with a willingness to see and hear. We tend to slap labels and expectations on those who aren’t like us. Candy wasn’t like ‘us’, she was like her, she loved expansively, she laughed, danced, loved God and said the best prayers I have ever heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Val,
      I recall you telling me this before, and I’m thankful that you’ve told this story again. Many thanks for sharing … and cheers to your aunt and uncle for their steadfast love and determination! …. But the loudest cheer goes for Candy!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

Comment with respect.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.