This is the first of a series of posts that I plan to do reflecting some of my thoughts and discussions in regards to the February 3rd showing of “The Two Mrs. Grissoms” on the crime drama CSI.
I’m sure that this morning the “Deaf Grapevine” is all abuzz as folks share their thoughts on last night’s CSI program, which featured several Deaf actors/actresses – most noticeably Marlee Matlin and Phyllis Frelich.
Marlee is pretty well known to most people for her various appearances on television and film; but for those of you who are not so familiar with Phyllis – she has also appeared on television a number of times, but is probably better known for her work on the stage. She won a Tony award in 1980 for her role as Sarah in the Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God, the same role that Marlee was to win an Academy Award in 1986. Together Phyllis and Marlee are probably the best known Deaf actresses in the country. While I have met Marlee, I’ve never met Phyllis – although I did get to know some of her siblings while a student at Gallaudet (Phyllis comes from a large family with Deaf parents and nine Deaf children).
Anyway…what did I think of the show?
It was pretty good. I thought the acting was fairly well done, although Marlee was a bit melodramatic in this show. The plot was an interesting one and did keep my interest. It certainly took some twists and turns before coming to an end…although the ending to the “whodunnit” mystery was somewhat disappointing.
But was it totally believable? That’s the question.
Can a hearing person truly fake deafness for that long a period of time within the Deaf Community…and to a Deaf individual with whom he was having an intimate relationship?
That I have to wonder.
Oh, certainly I have met individuals who have left me pondering if they were Deaf or hearing when I first meet them – this is not too uncommon, especially if the hearing person is a CODA – Child Of Deaf Adults…a man or woman who grew up with Deaf parents. Such individuals may indeed be able to fool folks at first, since they have developed the signing skills and the mannerisms of the Deaf Community.
But can they really keep up the charade over the long run?
That’s the big question.
I just keep thinking that sooner or later something is going to trip them up. An inadvertent reaction to a noise, the automatic response to someone’s words spoken behind your back. Sooner or later they have to show their true – albeit hearing – colors.
A friend reminds me of the time a hearing police detective went “undercover” at Gallaudet University, portraying a man who recently lost his hearing and was at Gally to learn how to adjust to his new status as a deaf person. Apparently it was all part of a sting to identify and arrest those individuals who were dealing drugs on campus. So yes…it has happened and I suppose it is possible. But this happened back in the 70’s…forty years ago. With Deafhood and Deaf Cultural Studies and ASL programs and the like springing up everywhere, is it still possible today? Would hearing people still be able to pull the wool over our eyes, or are we Deaf folks more “savvy” nowadays?
Or is it in fact easier for a hearing person to fool us nowadays? There’s plenty of hearing people who are using text messaging on phones, or Skype on their computers. There’s email. Modern technology has brought some “equality” in certain areas, where perhaps being deaf or hearing isn’t such an issue any longer.
There’s more ASL programs out there for hearing people to study our language, more Deaf Studies programs to develop a greater understanding of our culture, and while there is still a lot of ignorance out there… I’d like to think that there is a bit more knowledge and sensitivity of the Deaf Community nowadays.
But there’s still a cultural gap there that I just can’t fathom that a hearing person – no matter what their background is – can fully close.
What do you think, Crossroads readers? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!
Stay tuned for more posts on this subject…I’ve decided to “cut them up” into separate posts to avoid having a long rambling post here. I will be sharing more thoughts on different subjects touched upon in this episode, as well as feedback from others.