Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Matt Roloff speaks about celebrating differences

There is an article about Matt Roloff's upcoming event in Saratoga, California February 12. According to the article, tickets are selling well and a second event might be added.

The article includes some new comments from Matt.

I have a couple of thoughts on two different statements Matt makes.

"All of the family members have experienced their ups and downs during the process, but the family has undoubtedly noticed the differences the show has made in communities.

"It's desensitizing America," Roloff said. "We want to walk down the street and have people say, that is a person, not that is a little person."

I think that is very true and the show has been successful at achieving that. As I mentioned in the "Loveline" story, I believe most of the viewers of the show don't even really think of Matt, Amy and Zach as little people. They're judged, liked, disliked, as any person being observed would be. Perhaps when people began watching the show that factor was involved, but it evaporated long ago. When Amy speaks about the kids in school or Mike's passing, I don't think many people think "Oh, that's what a little person parent does". She's just a person like everybody else. On that point, I'm in complete agreement with Matt and commend the Roloffs and those responsible for the show.

However, the second point once again leaves me shaking my head in frustration and I know I am not alone. There are many things I love about the show and admire about the Roloffs, but this point is hard to wrap my mind around.

"It makes it something bigger than us being on TV," Roloff said, adding that the show's message is about "celebrating the differences" in all communities, and he is satisfied when he realizes it is doing just that.

But they haven't done that with their own son and his friends who they consider to be great kids and they don't appear terribly concerned about it....Of course, I actually agree with Matt's statement. That is precisely what people who are disappointed with the Roloffs say as well - the show is about celebrating the differences of all people. That is the message the Roloffs carry from the television show to the speaking engagements.

That is why so many are shocked that Matt and Amy don't appear to be aghast when their son and his friends, who they say are "great kids", use slurs that are hurtful to many of those groups and mock those differences whether it being with degrading pictures or comments from "great kids" (friends) such as "u think i am some sleezy jew or smthin?"or "acting out motions for deaf kids lmao thats funy dude." That's not "celebrating differences"! Of course there were more offensive comments directly from Jeremy, but there were so many comments and a few of them are widely known, but it doesn't make the lesser discussed comments any more acceptable considering the message of "celebrating differences". Don't Matt and Amy wonder what a parent of a deaf child thinks when they see teenagers making comments or "jokes" that Jeremy's "great" friend did? Matt and Amy obviously don't even feel behavior such as that deserves an apology as long as it is Jeremy and his friends.

When people see Matt and Amy react to that by brushing it away and wanting viewers who fully understand their message of diversity and respect to remain hush-hush and not care about that behavior because it is Jeremy Roloff and his friends; that's why people have almost no choice but to conclude that Matt and Amy are hypocrites. They can't reasonably expect people to ignore that or not think about it while they listen to the Roloff family speak about accepting and respecting people who have differences from what you are.

Sometimes I think Matt continues to make statements about the show being about accepting all people and differences knowing full well that people are disappointed in Jeremy and their reaction to it, just to drive us mad ;-)

You can read the full article at this location.


Anonymous said...

i agree with what you said but he is talking about the show itself making a difference not what they do with their son. Also at this point they really can't speak for Jeremy anymore, he knows what him and his friends did was wrong and they are adults now. If he wanted to clear things up (which i think he should) then h has many opportunities to do so. I think jeremy thinks of it as kids being kids, we all do slip up at one point or another, his just happens to be all over the internet haha.

Joanne said...

Matt and Amy cant control what their kids friends say. They can talk to their own kids about this kind of stuff but thats about it.

David said...

IMO, Matt and Amy are like many parents that have blinders on when it pertains to their own children.

Spiritswander said...

Hi Joanne -- You make a fair point, one that I agree with. Matt and Amy can't control what their kids friends say.

However, the sticking point for me and a lot of people (from the feedback and inquiries this site receives) - is the fact that Matt and Amy continiously vouch for the character of these friends. They say "they're great kids". They refer to them as "really good kids". They don't appear to have any problem with their kids associating with these kids. Heck, they even take some of these kids on vacation with them. So while I agree they can't control what they're friends say, they can control their support and backing of these kids.

If Matt and Amy truly believe these friends are great kids; I would have expected them to express some (or a lot of) disappointment in these friends for their behavior. However, based on their comments and actions (appearing very happy that their son(s) have these kids as friends) they vouch for their character.

Anonymous - You also make a valid point. I agree they can't speak for Jeremy - it should have been Jeremy. However, they've all referenced this behavior (I hesitate to call it "an incident" because it went on for years) and none of them have ever said "I'm sorry for what was said. I'm disappointed. I'm embarrassed."

The prevailing point about this is that if anybody should understand why this behavior is wrong and unacceptable - it is people that are public speakers that celebrate differences and champions for diversity. However, their response does not indicate that.

What is disappointing to me is that I don't believe Jeremy does think what he did is wrong. I agree with your last sentence. However, if he understood that it was wrong and it was not how he was raised and he's embarrassed and he's learned his lesson - he has had plenty of opportunity to express a similar sentiment and hasn't.

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts as well.

Rap541 said...

Bravo Spirits!

Either Jeremy is a child and his parents speak for him, or he's an adult. These incidents occured before Jeremy became a man... Therefore in my mind, yes, his parents are responsible for their child's actions.

If they can't speak for him at this point - then Jeremy is a man and can be judged accordingly for his actions and for his views, his language choices, and his silence in the face of accusations.

But as sure as it will rain in Oregon, when people do say that Jeremy should speak on his own behalf, then he's a child and it's good enough that his parents have made vague statements about "an incident in the past".

As it stands, no one in the Roloff family has said what *Jeremy* said was wrong.

And yes Spirit, I would expect Amy and Matt to express some disappointment in the "great kids" making fun of retarded and deaf people.

John Dev said...

Kids should not be babied. They know right from wrong.

As strong as I believe there should have been an apology, it was not his parents responsibility.

It doesn't matter that he was 16 when he said those things. He got caught when he was 18. He should have apologized.

A true Christian young man would have apologized for those comments and vowed to better themselves in the name of Christ.

Donald Williams said...

As I see it, Matt's speeches and lessons in diversity are not related to Jeremy's dumb comments.

Jeremy is the family member that I like the least. Matt's speaking career should not be affected by the inane ramblings of a dumb teenager.

Matt had a goal when he dreamed up the series. He has accomplished that. He has done wonders for diversity. His speaking on these topics are positive.

Jeremy's failings are not Matt's failing. Haven't we seen both Matt and Amy express frustration with some of Jeremy's immature antics? At the end of the day, Matt and Amy can only do so much.

If I am not mistaken, Jeremy's own comment stated that Matt had instructed him to be kinder towards fans. Jeremy told his friend that he didn't care about Matt's advice. That is not Matt's fault.

I believe Matt and Amy were furious with Jeremy. If they haven't done that publicly it is nothing but being a protective parent. He is their son. They can't feed him to the lions and offer Jeremy up on a platter.

Jeremy's ramblings do not spoil Matt's message. I will pay to hear Matt Roloff speak.

kd2121 said...

Donald, well said. I've never liked Jeremy's friends. They bring out the worst in him. But this does not reflect on Matt and Amy.

Kids are known to drive parents crazy by not listening to their lectures about talking nice.

Jeremy is 18. He's an adult. Matt and Amy can't make him an apologize. An apology is up to Jeremy.

Matt and Amy have done nothing wrong.

Just my opinion.

Rap541 said...

I disagree a little bit with you, kd2121, in that Matt and Amy are parents. Parents of Jeremy Roloff. They let the not so great friends have full access to their kids, and were alerted to the behaviors that they, in public, say bother them.

Matt's reaction to the NE article was to tell people to mind their own business. Amy's reaction was to sit silent until months later and then complain how her kids need to be reminded not to not use racist slurs, but to *not get caught* using racist slurs.

Were Matt and Amy caught using racist slurs? Nope. Do they seem to be condoning it? Yeah, they do. Should they be publically stoned? Deprived of their livelyhood? No.

But there is some hypocrisy involved here. Look, words hurt. We all know that. That's basically the gist of Matt and Amy's patter, that and don't judge people by appearence. And a lot of times I feel like Matt and Amy (and sometimes their hard core fans) like to play games over this to obfuscate things.

Matt and Amy may very well have started doing this show for noble reasons, but lets not kid ourselves. They are making money and marketing themselves as pro-family and pro-diversity.

I don't expect Jeremy Roloff to be a perfect kid... he's far from it. But the racist language? From a kid who's parents are making bank on the "we're diverse!" circuit? Needed more public addressing by his parents if they expect me to believe they really did something. It's not helped by how they have chosen to display themselves as ineffectual disciplinarians on their show.

So let Jeremy speak for himself. Oh, but he's still a child, and therefore we mustn't judge him if he doesn't speak on the topic.

So Jeremy isn't responsible for his actions and shouldn't be judged for not speaking publically and directly about the NE article because he's a child.

But Matt and Amy aren't responsible for Jeremy's actions, and lack of comment, because Jeremy is old enough to speak for himself, and god knows once a kid turns eighteen, they are completely responsible for everything and their parenting is a complete non issue.

Jeremy isn't responsible for himself, and neither are Matt and Amy. So who is?

Courtney said...

Why didn't Jeremy just say he didn't mean to hurt anybody and say he's sorry? That would make the most sense on all kinds of levels.

Why are the Roloffs so stubborn about apologizing?

Courtney said...

Rap541, I don't disagree with you. They did not handle it well and I think the Roloffs were and are wrong to expect people to ignore it, but all that was needed was for JEREMY to say he screwed up and say sorry.

I don't know what is hard about that. If Jeremy had said he was sorry, I don't think Matt or Amy would be required to talk about it because Jeremy would have dealt with it. He made the mess. He would have cleaned it up.

But he didn't. Why not?

Maybe Jeremy thinks it is his right to say it or not apologizing is a matter of pride.

Either way JEREMY not apologizing is stupid.

rap541 said...

Courtney - I agree with you.

I don't particularly like the kid, but I would be impressed if he directly acknowledged the NE article and explained himself. Getting softball questions from the moderator of Daddy's website like "Are you a racist?" is not the same as "Why did you call this person the n-word?" or "Why do you and your friends think its funny to compare dwarfs to people with down syndrome"?

Even if he came out with "Yes thats how I feel, and I am not apologizing" - I would respect that more than this "well, its not the parents fault since he's an adult, but it's not Jeremy's fault since he's a child" nonsense.

Brandon said...

Rap, I agree. "Are you racist?" is a laughable question. Why even bother?

Who would answer "yes" except for the heads of the KKK and if I remember from a few reruns of Jerry Springer, even some KKK members answered "no" to the racist question.

Some of Jeremy's comments makes me wonder if he has some racist thoughts (beaner/slave) and I definitely think Jer and his friends think it's hilarious to make fun of gay people, but I don't think he's an Aryan nation leader and I don't think that's what most people think.

What he should be asked about is his hypocrisy. Why is it good fun for him to say N, Fggot, ect, when he doesn't want people saying "midget". How does he explain why it's wrong for people to make fun of LP but funny for him and his buds to make fun of gays? Does he feel bad about it all of it and for calling Mike his N word?

I'd also love to have Jeremy address if he thinks him and his buds are spreading Christian love when they insult their supportive fans, call girls losers, btches and have generally been jerks about fans. As much as I think the slurs are bad, on a human kindness level the part that irks me the most about Jeremy and his best buds is how they can treat people like that while saying they're living to make Jesus proud. I know Jeremy's friend Dan made comments (Jer did too) being cruel and mean to fans on Jeremy's myspace but when I looked at Dan's page (when it was public) his bio was all about how much he loves God and how he wants to live like Jesus did.

Courtney, I think the reason why he hasn't apologized is because I'm guessing nothing has changed. Lets get real. The buds Jeremy spends hours each day with that he possibly can were basically still saying the same stuff up until the NE article. Amy has said what's come out of this is how she's talked to them about not saying their slurs where people will see it. Who really believes that they just stopped talking that way in every day life, just stopped cold turkey?

If I'm right about that and I think I am, sure I can see why Jeremy is not eager to say how terribly wrong he was and the shame he felt for being a hypocrite. Then what does he do? Hang up the phone or get off the computer to call Mueller on his cell and say "Hey Nword! Don't be gay bragin fggot!"

That kind of hypocrisy might even be too much for Jeremy to handle. *I think* that's the real answer. He doesn't think it's wrong. He hasn't stopped. His friends and him do it every day. Now he needs to pretend like he's feeling shame and act like it's in the past?

You can't apologize for something that you still haven't figured out is wrong and are still doing.

kd2121 said...


Matt and Amy didn't make that arguement. They didn't say he was a child that can't speak for himself.

I read where recently called Jeremy a man and said he can no longer tell him what to do and treat him like a child. He makes his own decisions. If Jeremy chooses not apologize that's Jeremy's choice. Jeremy is his own person.

If Amy said she was sorry I would wonder why. It's all Jeremy's decision.

Anonymous said...

I'm a gay parent and kids are kids. How dare you lay judgement. They are still in the development process of trying to identify themselves. There are alot of times when my kids say hurtful and wrong things that I ask them about it and they have no clue what it means because they've picked it up from another child. I guess we can easily say that puritan values still exsist in this country. My understanding regardless is we came here for freedom. We might have stayed where we were at.