Monday, March 2, 2009

Matt Roloff speaks about struggling to teach the Roloff children about diversity and appropriate language

There is an interesting video up on an ABC news station of Matt Roloff being interviewed in January preparing for his event in Saratoga, California back on February 12, 2009.

There's some interesting parts to it. Some of it is the basic interview material that hardcore followers of the Roloffs could answer in their sleep, but Matt made some interesting comments.

He was asked about if they ever get annoyed with having the cameras in their faces? Matt echoed what Amy often explains, that they love their crew. They've basically had the TV crew around them since 2002 and the crew has become very good friends. Due to this friendship and how well the crew understands the family; when the Roloffs don't want to be filmed they just give the sign and the crew knows to stop. Matt then corrected himself and said it's to the point now where he doesn't even need to say anything, they know from his look when it's time to not film the family.

Matt talked a lot about educating kids about Little People and how he used to go to as many 4th grade classes as possible and teach the kids there. Matt feels dwarfism and little people are a great way to teach kids about accepting all forms of diversity and difference.

I did like Matt's attitude towards being someone who as a child was going to be ridiculed. He pointed out that many people never get noticed and kids should actually use their difference as a blessing, they get noticed and they should use the opportunity to have a voice. It might start off as ridicule, but people take notice and want to hear what he says and it gives him a chance to grab their attention and turn that ridicule into education and acceptance.

The most interesting part of the interview was this quote from Matt as he was talking about teaching other kids about accepting all areas of diversity.

Matt Roloff: "I think dwarfism is a perfect metaphor for all kinds of differences, because if you can understand a person who is half your size is a real person, you can understand that someone without an arm is a real person, it's a great way to teach kids that. Of course, our show is accomplishing that on a very broad scale which is very helpful. It's never too early to teach kids....even in our family which is very diverse, we still struggle with teaching our kids about appropriateness and language and diversity. We're up in Oregon, we don't have the blessing of being down here in the Bay area. Up there in Oregon it's quite a bit less diverse, so I had to re-double my efforts to get the right message across."

I think everybody is aware the the elephant in the room is the fact that Jeremy Roloff and his friends that Matt and Amy are fond of, were caught using racist, homophobic and other offensive language and mocking other diversity groups. It's interesting that Matt is now acknowledging that. Matt's statement about Oregon being less diverse is actually very similar to a quote the National Enquirer included in their article "Big Bigot in the Land of the Little People" from what they said was a childhood friend of Jeremy's. The supposed friend, explained that they didn't feel Jeremy was malicious or hateful, but his language and mocking was because he was sheltered and isn't exposed to many people who are different than he is. Matt Roloff's point here is actually very similar to the quote that was in the article (no, I'm not suggesting that Matt spoke to the Enquirer and was the anonymous quote :-)

Matt brought it up all by himself although he didn't refer directly to it, but I think it's a good step that Matt is now being more honest about it and acknowledging that it's something he's trying to work on with his own kids.

The entire interview is available for your viewing:


leonel said...

Finally. My respect for the family just went up a notch. What a great thing to finally hear Matt Roloff say. I'll be making time for watching this interview!

Thanks for posting.

Robert said...

Leonel, I agree. I still would like to see an apology or a direct comment about Jeremy, but admitting that it's a problem they need to work on is better than pretending like there is no problem with language and behavior that respects other groups.

Alice said...

Honestly, I think if I were the Roloffs, I would begin to feel just a little bit guilty talking about diversity knowing that many people are aware of what Jeremy has said. Perhaps it's Matt conscience speaking.

Timothy said...

Finally some honesty. I like it.

I wish instead of tip-toeing around it they would just say what everybody knows, that Jeremy said offensive things

Honestly I think it would make a great and real subject for an episode rather than the plots that we've seen many time over.

Many parents deal with teens acting out and saying things that are offensive. This is a kid that should have known better because of the Roloffs message. Why not be honest and deal with it on the show?

I can speak for myself and I would respect them more if they were honest and didn't make excuses.

Anonymous said...

Get real people. The roloffs are a reality program doccumenting the daily lives of an ordinary American family. They are not a perfect family. They are just like you, me, and everyone else in this world. They seem to be sincere, hard working parents who are doing a great, though maybe not perfect job, like most of us parents today. Unless a viewer can honestly say that he, has never made mistakes in daily life, or spoken stupidly, sometimes without thinking, or most important, have children who are perfect, then please keep your ignorant remarks in your head and think before you speak! The Roloffs do not owe anyone an apology. We choose to watch their show because we love to view other people's lives and no one should be under such scrutiny for every incident in their lives. Somethings are strictly between family. Let's worry about our own actions, and let the Roloffs do the same.