I am a crazy Marvel fan, but they just pushed me over the edge. A week or so ago I binged watched Jessica Jones, Season 2. In one scene, her friend Trish Walker who is a radio talk show host and also happens to be on a drug-induced rage loses it in the middle of an interview with a gluten-free writer. Said writer is basically an idiot, but I think the greater point is that the scene represents society’s uninformed rage and condescension about gluten-free eating.
Trish asks the writer – “How many people die a year from celiac disease?” The writer then incorrectly says, “Oh, it’s not a direct cause of death.” Wrong!!!! Trish – “Your books says gluten can mean life or death”. Stupid writer – “I didn’t mean that literally.” Guess what? You’re still wrong. Trish – “So would you says it’s worse than gun violence or what’s happening in Syria?” After some back and forth, Trish says, “You clearly care about gluten deeply, but here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter.”
My heart sank when I watch this, but I was going through the first stage of grief: denial. Trish then goes on a drug induced rage, so I justified it to myself. She is clearly an asshole, so when she says gluten doesn’t matter, she is just clearly being an asshole.
Flash forward like ONE WEEK and my first watch of the new Deadpool trailer this morning. Guess what? GLUTEN JOKES. IN THE TRAILER. I can only imagine how the rest of the movie will be.
Deadpool says to his girlfriend on entering the house, “Sorry I’m late. I was rounding up all the gluten in the world and launching it into space where it can’t hurt us ever again.”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Not. The irony here is that if Deadpool could actually do this, he would truly be my superhero. (Although how much would that suck for the rest of the world? I’m not too sure right now – seems like people who make fun of celiacs deserve a gluten-free world). Laughter is not what I’m feeling after watching these two scenes.
Without launching into a bunch of swear words and throwing my laptop at the television, I’ll just copy and paste the note I just emailed to Marvel:
I can no longer defend your gluten jokes to the celiac community. After the Jessica Jones episode, I was shocked to see another gluten joke in the Deadpool trailer. I’m not a Marvel subscriber, but believe me, I own every movie and tv show and watch them regularly. I love everything Marvel, and I am a celiac patient. I understand the temptation of making fun of people who don’t have celiac or gluten sensitivity and choose not to eat gluten because one of the Kardashians did it, or they read on a supermarket tabloid that removing gluten from your diet is part of a miracle cure diet that will help you lose ten pounds tomorrow. Media organizations like yours NEVER differentiate between these trendy folks who choose to not eat gluten and celiac patients whose lives are at risk if we do eat gluten, even molecules of gluten. I often tell people that if I wasn’t diagnosed with celiac, I’d go to a gluten spa tomorrow, bathe in the stuff and shove as much of it down my throat as possible. Let’s face it – gluten is delicious, and I can never eat a molecule of it again.
From BeyondCeliac: “Celiac disease is a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When a person with celiac eats gluten, the protein interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food by damaging a part of the small intestine called villi. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems including some cancers, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.” Not really that funny, is it?
Did you know that it is estimated that 1% of people in the United States have celiac disease, but 83% of those are undiagnosed? Did you know that celiac patents can die from intestinal cancer due to celiac disease? Did you know that the presence of less than 20 parts per million of gluten in food can make someone with celiac very sick? That means it can be extremely risky to eat anywhere where gluten is present in the kitchen, whether it is actively put in the food or not? (Cross-contamination – learn about it). Did you know that celiac disease is totally disruptive to celiac’s lives and can be disabling? Do you know that there is only one treatment for celiac – never eat a molecule of gluten again? Do you know how hard that is? Can you imagine being a kid who can’t eat any food at a birthday party or with your friends at school? Can you imagine how it feels to go to a Marvel movie with your friends, having to explain to them on the way in why you can’t eat the popcorn or other snacks, and then have your hero Deadpool make fun of your very serious, deadly disease right on the screen in front of said friends? It’s hard enough to be a kid, and there are a lot of kids who look up to Marvel. I can only hope that the Marvel writers who think it’s hilarious to keep making fun of our disease are in the undiagnosed 83% and will eventually be diagnosed and realize the hard way that celiac disease is not funny. Karma’s a bitch. Maybe that’s the only way to get your writers to open their eyes? Actually I wouldn’t wish this disease on my worst enemy, so I hope none of you have it.
I demand a response to this email with a statement of what Marvel is going to do or say about celiac disease and gluten jokes moving forward. If you are going to profit from making fun of our disease, I expect Marvel to make a donation of said profit to celiac research, so that we can finally find treatments and a cure for our hilarious disease. Our disease is under attack from all forms of entertainment. I can no longer stay quiet, I no longer respect Marvel, and the Marvel heroes are no longer my heroes.
My site: https://glutenfreebeerbabe.com
If anyone else would like to contact them, here’s the webpage I used. https://marvel.com/help/contact BUT IF ANYONE KNOWS HOW I CAN DIRECTLY CONTACT THE MARVEL WRITER’S ROOM, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!
I definitely understand everything you are saying (RN with Celiac here) but near the end of Deadpool 2 he states he is “gluten-sensitive”….so I’m relating his “launching gluten into outer space” comment to that…so it really CAN’T hurt him. Deadpool has NCGS. ☺️
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Actually, the Deadpool joke is even worse, as he says, “…where it can’t ever *not* hurt us again,” implying that it’s not really harmful. If he’d said it the way you mentioned, it wouldn’t have been quite so bad, even if it was tongue in cheek; it might actually have felt like he was implying some gluten issues of his own, which would have made him that much more relatable.
As for Jessica Jones, I was surprised they had a go at celiacs, actually, because normally they act like it’s just the gluten sensitive folks who are jumping on some faddy bandwagon, and only celiacs have a valid reason to avoid it. As you said, it seems like we were supposed to see Trish losing it by being the opposite of her normally caring, empathetic self, but the execution would have been better if they hadn’t picked a group for her to have a go at that all too many people have little sympathy with at the best of times.
The truth is, though it’s much worse to make a target of folks with a severe illness such as celiac disease, even people who just chose not to eat gluten because they think it might benefit their health – either in helping them lose weight (which it might well do), or because gluten can cause more subtle health issues for non-celiacs which can often only be revealed through an elimination trial – don’t deserve to be treated like idiots, because there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing, there is some factual basis for it, and they’re not hurting anyone in doing so. That’s what really annoys me, is that so many of these jokes are made from a place of utter ignorance and assumption; most people who make those sorts of jokes actually know little to nothing about gluten, what it is, and how it can affect the body.
In any case, you’re absolutely right that celiacs and those who are gluten sensitive don’t deserve to be treated as if it’s some life choice we’ve made because we’re too fussy to eat like normal people, or because we’re just jumping on some bandwagon, and I commend you for writing to Marvel expressing your annoyance and seeking to educate. It’s hard enough just dealing with gluten sensitivity; I can only imagine how difficult and frustrating it is coping with full blown celiac disease, which is so much more debilitating and damaging.The world would be a much better place if people had a bit more empathy with regards to difficulties they haven’t personally experienced, instead of simply assuming it can’t be that bad just because they don’t understand it.
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