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Mexico: Television Comedy Show Makes Light of Actor's Mental Disability

The Human Rights Commission of the Federal District of Mexico [es] has asked the television network Televisa to apologize the actor known as Sammy, after the contestants of the comedy game show “Hazme reír [es]” [“Make me laugh”] played a prank on him, even though it is widely known that he suffers from moderate mental disability. According to Mexican newspaper El Universal, during the May 17 transmission of the game show, TV presenter Galilea Montijo and comedian Roxana Castellanos pretended that Sammy had an audition for a show [es], where they were asked to appear in lingerie and changed clothes in front of him. It also included “temptations” from the women contestants, and the prank extended to the point of convincing Sammy to dance in his underwear in front of the cameras of national Channel 2.

The pranks on “Hazme reír” are one of the ways the contestants have to gain points in order to keep playing in the Mexican game show. Following the show protocol, after the video of the prank by Montijo and Castellanos an evaluation of their comedy skills was made by a jury that included actor and comedian Rafael Inclán and actress and comedian Consuelo Duval. The judges immediately recognized the lack of respect to Sammy.

The following dialogue happened in the evaluation.

Judge Rafael Inclán: “The prank was well done but long. And with all due respect… [it was] an offense to Sammy’s condition. I’m sorry.”

Contestant Galilea Montijo: “Oh, which is?”

Inclán: “Don’t you know Sammy’s condition?”

Montijo: “Well, he is a person …” (she looks for Sammy in the public seats) “Sammy, where are you? Are you normal?”

Inclán: “No. We all know that.”

Montijo: “Oh, no, sorry. What you just said is the offense. To tell him in his face that he is not a normal person. (laughs)”

Inclán: “Sammy is a television accident. To me, it was cruel. Do the prank to someone else.”

(…)

Judge Consuelo Duval: “In my own personal point of view, Sammy is a good soul. And that’s why he is not normal. Sammy sees everything beautiful. Sammy sees everything in beauty.”

Montijo: “We all know that he has a… well… well, yes, he has a…”

Inclán: “That’s why.”

Montijo: “Sammy’s mental abilities are working at 100%. You’re at 100% sir, right?”

Actor Sammy: “Yes.” (nods)

Inclán: “Don’t ask him.”

Montijo: “…That he has natural humor.” (laughs)

Duval: (starts to cry)

Sammy is a Mexican actor that has appeared in several comedy shows on the Televisa channel –among them, the ones from veteran comedian Eugenio Derbez and the variety show El Calabozo–for the last 10 years. One of the recurring themes during his acts is that the presenters mock him constantly.

Although it has been implied since his first appearances that the actor suffers some kind of mental disability, recently the sister of Sammy, Martha, has declared to Mexican newspapers that he only suffers dyslexia [es]. “You cannot defend someone if you don’t know what he has,” she stated.

For Jessica Uribe, from the blog Vivir México [es], [“To live Mexico”] which also contains the video of the prank, the responsibility of the television-aired prank belongs to the line of content aired on the Mexican network:

La mayoría de nosotros sabemos que televisa es una mierda, no concede programas de calidad, sus actores cada vez más parece que son sacados de una mala broma y en fin, sobrarían mis palabras en contra de esta televisora que está en decadencia y que ella sola se dispara en el pie a diario. Esta vez la regaron al no revisar el contenido de un programa con la nula idea de lo que son los Derechos Humanos y el respeto a personas que sufren de alguna incapacidad (sic).

Most of us know that Televisa is shit, that they don’t make quality television shows, their actors seem to be a bad joke, and overall, there are enough words against this decadent network that shoots its foot everyday. This time their mistake was not to review the content of a program that lacks any knowledge about Human Rights and respect for the persons that have some incapacity (sic).

Vuarnet, from the blog Isopixel [es] comments that working on the television network does not mean that an actor can be humilliated:

Gracias a su participación en diversos espacios dentro de la televisora se hace vivir y mantiene a su madre, pero el hecho de que le den trabajo ¿les faculta para denigrarlo de ese modo? No hay derecho en serio…

Thanks to his participation in several shows on the network he [Sammy] has found his way to make a living and economically supports his mother, but the fact is he has the job enables them to humiliate him like that? There is no right…

User Regiodelnorte replies in a comment [es] to the Regioblogs [es] article of the same subject that the apologies of “Hazme reír” should be only the beginning:

La merece [Sammy], pero tambien que sean retroactivas las disculpas: Desde Jorge Van Rankin Arellano, Esteban Arce [ambos de El Calabozo], pasando por Eugenio Derbez.

He [Sammy] deserves it [the apology], but also the apologies should be retroactive: From Jorge Van Rankin Arellano, Esteban Arce [both from El Calabozo], all the way through Eugenio Derbez.

In response to the same article, user RBN suggests that mocking others is common in Mexican television [es]:

Cuántas veces se ha burlado de los homosexuales con sus interpretaciones donde se exagera la condicion amanerada.

How many times have they mocked homosexuals with their exaggerated interpretations of the effeminate condition?

Twitter user @Uchalas thinks that the actor has no choice but to subject himself to the ridicule [es]:

Yo creo que Sammy si entiende lo que pasa a su alrededor, pero si la hace de pedo perdería el trabajar en Televisa. ¿Como ven?

I think Sammy understands what happens around him, but if he causes controversy he would lose his job in Televisa. What do you think?

@Elmeollodlasnto, from Twitter thinks that it was not adequate the way the apologies were given [es]:

Televisa ofreció disculpas por su broma para Sammy. ¡¿Alguien las aceptó? Sin embargo, el video ahí estará. Debió ser Galilea y no Regil [el presentador].

Televisa offered apologies for their prank to Sammy. Someone accepted them? Regardless, the video will be there. It should be Galilea and not [the presenter] Regil [who should apologize].

Aside from the real situation of Sammy, the prank and its reactions have brought to the surface a whole generation of characters from the Mexican television that have become popular because of the mockery around them, rather than their comedy skills. Among them, “el Changoleón [es]”, a homeless alcoholic man that became popular through the show Toma Libre, y “el Furcio [es]”, another mocked character from the show No Manches.

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