About 3 months ago I wrote this article about TLC’s Albino Island in AFRICA, that you can check out with this link here. So I decided to watch MTV’s True Life I’m an Albino this week to see how they tackled the issue. The interesting thing about both shows was the focus on young people who have albinism. By the way that phrase, “people who have albinism” seems a little less stigma inducing than flat out calling somebody an “albino.”
So MTV basically chose 3 people, and a fourth person was briefly part of the program since she was a twin of one of the main subjects. All the young people were about 17-21 so no big difference in age, but they were all on the brink of adulthood and pretty much about to step into a world outside the protection of home life. I don’t remember the order they were introduced, so I’ll just jump in first with the young lady.
Jennie is a girl who wants to be an actress, but she’s got a particular eye condition with her albinism called nystagamus that causes her eyes to be in a constant state of movement. On my other article I talk about the fact that bad eyesight is one of the other hardships.
In her case though this comes in direct conflict with the fact that a) she’s chosen an lifestyle where people are filming her and b) auditioning means 9 time out of 10 you’re going to get a script AT the audition and have to read it on the spot. Tough. In fact, this whole profession is going to be EXTREMELY difficult, since showbiz these days has pretty much degenerated into models who talk, instead of great performers who might happen to be attractive. In other words appearance is super important. If I knew her personally I would IMMEDIATELY advise her to start taking writing and film classes. Her best, most realistic, option would be to make her own films. Tell her own stories and Hollywood will come a knocking after a few Sundance standing ovations. Trust me on this. Because right now the media pretty much just sees the albino condition as comedy or odd/supernatural (Powder or The Da Vinci Code). I mean I love the Venture Brothers-but here’s a character from the show known as “White.”
At any rate she’s reasonably comfortable with herself and she’s got goals-so her LIFE prospects look pretty good-other than the career thing. Next up are 2 guys. Both with names that start with Z’s, so let’s see if I can get this right. One is a “white” kid and the other is “black.” You see why I put that in quotes right? In the albino world this is such a strange concept. I talk a little more about this in my TLC article.
Anyway the first one is Zack. Zack is black. But, so am I! Hahahaa. Here he is with his family.
In fact the biggest thing going on with Zack’s life IS he family, specifically his mother. The kid wants to drive. BAD. He’s an athletic guy, runs track and field, and has a nice group of friends. But he really wants to be mobile. But I think that is only a symptom. I think the root of the problem is that driving symbolizes normalcy for him. And the idea of NOT driving would definitely put in the “handicapped” barrel, and he does not want to in that category. And yet, his vision is pretty bad. Here is getting fitted for special glasses.
The last young person is Zane.
He has a twin sister who makes a brief appearance. She also has albinism and she does a bunch of things to hide that. And I think that’s only one of the issues that makes Zane’s story the most complex of all the stories on the show. So he’s got this twin right? And it began to occur to me how twins come up a few times in the albino world.
I mean who can forget those Albino Twins in the Matrix?
And what about those two that are always visiting Dirty Jobs?
But let’s get back to Zane. Zane not only plays football on his high school team, he’s been chosen to play college ball. This is a big deal for ANY kid, but obviously it’s even more of an accomplishment given what he had to overcome.
As I said his story is a little more complex, for instance, one of the most surprising things is he AND his mother thought that his condition was a result of his mother had done. And they were told by a counselor that it’s genetic. She has albinism also.
What’s most interesting to me?
I’ll tell you. By this people MTV, the focus is pretty much on American young people. And what I found striking about this episode is that ALL THREE of these kids had chosen a career or thing to pursue in life that’s very public. 2 athletes and an actress. One would THINK somebody like these kids would try to find a way to stay out of the limelight. But they’ve all chosen to do something that results in great public display and the scrutiny of others.
So it makes you wonder; has a lifetime of being looked at made them just choose to embrace that or is it simply young people doing what young people do. When I was that age I was very athletic and I was even on a team in school for a while. Outside of school I was a member of a skateboarding group. And I also chose to act in movies. So are they just doing what young people do? Interesting.
Another point of this article is this last thing that happens to Zane. He goes to a meeting for people with albinism and basically says that being there is the most comfortable he’s ever felt in his skin. So in my last article I mentioned how you could donate, in THIS one I strongly recommend that if you yourself have this condition get out and meet others. Or try to find that group that meets in Washington D. C. Or if you know somebody, particularly a young person, get them meeting other as SOON as possible. Don’t be alone in this. MTV also tends to make full episodes available ONLINE, but as of right now this one is NOT because it’s still brand new and they’re showing it on the station, but in the following weeks it probably will be.