The AJOB blog links to a Crooks & Liars post about Rush Limbaugh accusing Michael J. Fox of lying, and/or acting, in his recent advert supporting a Democrat in Missouri’s November election bid. For those of you who haven’t seen the advertisement (which can be found by following links, as I’m still too lazy to figure out embedding YouTube in this thang), it’s a short but powerful advertisement talking about the potential power of stem cell research. It’s the Parkinson’s that makes the advert hard to watch.
Now, I will admit that I’ve heard the rumour/discussion that Fox doesn’t take medication for his Parkinson’s, and this has been widely repeated since the advert started airing – the suggestion is that he doesn’t typically take the meds, so he looks worse than he is. There are, however, two issues at fault with this supposed logic. The first is simply: why would it be a falsity if he chooses to show people what the disease looks like when it’s not medicated? What is untruthful about that? That would be accurate in showing the ravages of Parkinson’s. Medications, as anyone who has to take chronic maintenance medications knows, come with side effects. Personally, it seems to run a 1/1 ratio for me – for every pill I take to control my chronic pain, I have to take another to combat side effects. The side effects are not pleasant, and I do often take a drug holiday if I know I don’t need to be terrifically functional, because for all the pain that comes from a drug holiday, I’m just experiencing that, and not the stacked effects wreaking havoc. Perhaps you have to be in a maintenance situation yourself, but it doesn’t sound insane to avoid medications because you hate the side effects. Nor does it seem like lying – in fact, I’d argue that the polite fiction is that a disease or illness isn’t “so bad” because it’s effects are being masked by prescriptions.
I suppose that ended up being both problems: what does it matter if he takes his medications or not, and why would it be “false advertising” if he didn’t. On top of that, though, there’s also the consideration mentioned in the Crooks & Liars post: the movements seen in Fox’s advert are because of his medications, not a lack of.
That Limbaugh would accuse Fox of acting “because he’s an actor” is just reprehensible. Certainly, Fox might continue to identify as an actor, and act when he can – but he retired from that years ago because the Parkinson’s no longer allowed him to do the job.