Thane Pullan

Thane Pullan
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Open letter to Shortland Street

To whom it may concern,

It has occurred to me that Shortland Street has constant diversity when it comes to GLBT characters. It has made an effort for at least a decade or two to have at least one gay or lesbian character, it has even included a transgender character. While this is fabulous the show is lacking in characters with physical disabilities.

Sure there has been a few such as Chris's sister. (hopefully I am remembering correctly) I am sure that there have been some scattered guests; but in recent years there has been no long term regular characters in wheelchairs, who are blind or deaf and this is something that should be addressed. I remember there was Waverly's boyfriend played by Philip Patston; this is the longest term character in a wheelchair that I can recall.

It will be beneficial for the disability community to have characters that they can relate to in the same way it is beneficial for the GLBT community to have such characters. This will do a lot to inspire young people with disabilities and give them a character to relate to. Of course I am not suggesting that all people with disabilities need this, but some may find this beneficial. Some people also think that people that have disabilities are stupid; visibility is absolutely essential to combat this mindset.

Producers may avoid including people with disabilities because they are scared of getting things wrong. In my opinion it's wrong not to include characters with disabilities at all. You are not going to please every person with a disability, don't even try. Some people will complain no matter what. The majority of persons with disability would just appreciate being included. Ignore the fringes. I am happy to consult on such stories either professionally or not.

You frequently rotate different types of GLBT characters, you can also rotate characters with disabilities. It's 2016, it's time that you give the disability community equal attention.

Finally I am not writing this because I want to become an actor. I could see myself finding the filming process incredibly boring after day three. I do have interest in working behind a camera but also plan to presue this ambition in other ways such as writing a short film. I merely ask that you start to include characters with disabilities. If I am not involved in the process beyond this point that is totally fine.

Kind regards,

Thane Pullan
Posted at 04/09/2016 17:22:24 EDT 2 comments

Why banning speech is a bad idea

There is a trend with young people to ban offensive speech. As a (part time/whenever I feel like it) comedian I am deeply oppose to this but I am also opposite to it oppose it intellectually.

I would rather know who the scumbags in society are. There is no better way to detect them than to hear them speak. If someone calls me a worthless spastic for example; that sends a signal to me to not associate with that person. It is more dangerous to have people secretly resent you, particularly if they can affect your life. Racism could be an example of this; if people secretly are racist they will probably hold that against you in your professional life.

Once you ban speech the thoughts don't go away, they just go underground which has the potential to intensify the thoughts in groups. Tribalism comes into force additionally. We need to challenge ideas rather than shut down the conversation. Tribalism further enhancers people's emotional attachments to their ideas. Once you're emotionally attached to something you're not able to listen to reason. I am not stupid, many people won't change their mind, but some will.

Of course I am not suggesting that we get universities to endorse white supremacy groups, or allow bullies, or allow people to incite violence. People must be protected, but ideas must be challenged adequately.

While I am complaining about young people and new trends; my next post will be on the absurdity of trigger warnings.

I also blog about disability issues on other sites, so I will stop covering disability issues here for the most part.
Posted at 10/01/2016 15:51:48 EST 0 comments

A message to journalists interviewing me

Since I am being interviewed more often, I will point journalists to this page rather explain these things every time.

Please introduce me as "having a" disability rather than "suffering from" a disability. This is the only specific wording that I will request. The word "suffers" is extremely negative and considering many people pity people with disabilities anyway, I don't think use of that word is helpful or necessary. I don't mean to be the word police and have no idea if it actually has an effect on a person's psychology but I think that introducing people with people with physical impairments as "suffering" has no positive side and should be phased out.

People in wheelchairs don't like to be referred to as "wheelchair bound". Similarly people many people with disabilities don't like to be called "disabled people". I actually don't care about these things but keep these in mind if you're covering people with disabilities otherwise you will have the politically correct brigade complaining.

I view my physical limitations as irrelevant when it comes to my achievements. Some people are good at running, I am good at programming and being innovative. I simply have different skills than most, and the time to develop them.

I don't really care about labels, even my first point on this is more of a preference than anything. My main point is that I am not extraordinary because of my disability and don't wish to be painted as such. Too often stories on us are either painted as tragic or super inspirational. I don't want to be either and while journalists are doing stories on me, I will try to do some good and hopefully get some to cover people with disabilities differently.

As much as I don't really like to be called inspirational or extraordinary; I have authored a book, created software so I can do stand up, about to take my second international trip in my second year of comedy and have several amazing software packages in the pipeline. Yes I am awesome, but it's because of my abilities, not disability.
Posted at 29/08/2015 18:19:14 EDT 0 comments

Time For Companion Cards

Other countries can learn from each other in the area of disabilities. Australia has a companion card scheme, New Zealand should implement it here.

Companion cards allow carers of people with disabilities to get into events at no cost. This is important for people like me; I cannot drink without a companion. This would be an economic argument because if I can freely buy drinks, this means more profits for the venue.

More people who have disabilities may go to events if they didn't have to pay for carer tickets. I have been to concerts where there was vacant spots for people with disabilities. To be honest I enjoy the extra room, but let's ignore that. Without being too dramatic it's like charging us twice to get in, especially if you can't find someone who genuinely wants to go. For example a person that used to take me to concerts used to put in earplugs.

I believe that many events would happily sign on to such a scheme; I never used to ask for a companion ticket for local events, but times are tough. I find that many people are happy to let me have a companion ticket if I request one.

In my opinion life should be enjoyed; I mostly tend to enjoy concerts, DJs and stand up comedians. I would say it's about my only source of entertainment apart from YouTube and the few TV shows I have on while I am working. A lot of my offline business contains entertainment aspects such as doing comedy and later producing music so I qualify that as entertainment too. The companion card scheme will enhance the main thing I do for pure entertainment and it will enhance other people's lives. Let's implement it.
Posted at 04/03/2015 16:23:33 EST 0 comments

Disability and labels

I am just putting this out there since I am becoming more involved in the disability sector. Your label debates are stupid. I have no interest in them. You can call me a cripple for all I care, call me a crippled spastic, I really couldn't care less. I think Spastic Fantastic has a nice ring to it.

However I understand some people find being called disabled disempowering and for that reason I say their views should be honoured. If nothing else it means we can focus on other things. I don't agree with such people's perspective, but I understand where they're coming from. So even though I don't agree with you on a personal level; just take this victory and move on.

However then you get people that like the disabled label and refuse to buy into political correctness. My question to those people is simple. Is your position so important that you're willing to waste hours and hours in circular arguments going absolutely nowhere instead of tackling things like transport, accessibility, media, visibility? If the answer is yes, you have screwed up priorities, but you are free to engage in pointless arguments. I however have better things to do.

I will continue to call myself a cripple in my comedy act. If you don't like it: It's a sad day for you. My activism is separate from my comedy. Nobody has said anything negative, this is so everyone knows and understands my position prior to any potential moves I am about to take in the near future, or will take in distant future. Although if politics really means pandering to people on power trips, I can't say this interests me, at all. I don't have the time nor the will to play stupid power games, I call things as they are. Luckily you can be an activist without the politics.

Finally I believe strongly that words are a man made construct and they have practically no effect on me, this attitude needs to be taught via education. Society would be better off.
Posted at 28/12/2014 04:03:40 EST 2 comments

Why there are fewer women in power

Here's one of the actual reasons there are fewer women in power: women are less likely to be narcissists or psychopaths. The percentages are respectively 25% and 15%. This is from narcissism expert Sam Vaknin. Narcissists and psychopaths are mostly men and these types are more likely to go after powerful positions.

Of course other factors play a role such as religion and upbringing. They play with barbies and taught to be submissive by the Christian religion, while the opposite gender are loud and play with tanks. I wonder if the later combined with higher expectations for sporting achievements contributes to narcissism. Also the infamous ol' boys club is another obstacle.

My point is calling it sexism is overly simplistic. There are a multiple of reasons, including sexism.
Posted at 28/12/2014 04:00:55 EST 0 comments

Inspirational porn and objectification

I was reading about inspiration porn a few days ago and the fact that it can be interpreted as objectifing disabled people really stuck with me.

If you say that we are not objects to inspire others. OK, I am with you, but I disagree with the execution of this message. It's overly negative. A better way would be to say we're not inspirations, we're normal. OK some stupid people won't listen, what's new? Racism, sexism isn't solved, likewise I expect this will be an ongoing problem.

The answer is to push to be visible and normalized in society. This worked well with homosexuality in the past 30 years. This means fighting to make it easier to go out in terms of accessibility, transport etc. Visibility leads to changing of people's attitudes, it's really the only way in my opinion. Plus you will be improving accessibility for others.

I used to hate being called an inspiration, but is bringing joy to people's life such a bad thing? I can't say it is. I also hope that I am am an inspiration for other reasons; I am intelligent, funny and say what I mean. However if you're inspired by my disability alone, you're an idiot, but feel free to donate all the same.

As far as being objectified, I must say being inspirations is the least of our problems. That's all I will say.
Posted at 28/12/2014 03:58:14 EST 0 comments

Homophobia and Racism, solvable or not?

Prior to the passing of the equal marriage bill in New Zealand I had a quite an interesting conversation with a friend he was saying that it was practically pointless and won't solve homophobia etc.

I disagree entirely that it is pointless but he has a point. The civil rights act hasn't stopped racism after 50 years, which makes the idea of equal marriage being a magic bullet crazy. I don't think many people think this. Whether homophobia will completely go away, I doubt it, but things, over time have and will get better. Take racism for example: People are not literal slaves now, people have poor education, low paid jobs and live in poverty. This is partly due to being denied opportunities and also the accessibility of additional educational assistance ie well off families can afford to hire tutors. It is also a fact that hungry kids don't learn at the same rate. Have things gotten better? Yes. Has the problem gone away?

Absolutely not. By the way poverty is one of the main drivers of crime, which also results in less job opportunities as people aren't willing to hire criminals. There's also racial profiling by police and there was a very recent story of a white prom being held in Georgia.

I am not sure what causes racism other than ignorance and stupidity. The causes of homophobia are a bit different, you have the religious right sprouting their nonsense and also some closeted homosexuals struggling with their sexuality which makes them lash out at other homosexuals. I was kind of one before I came out almost six years ago. I was also a full time nerd and didn't see anyone, so no harm done. The religious angle will lessen over time, as well as the "homophobic homosexual" angle as more and more people get comfortable at coming out. Part of this has to do with legal acceptance and visibility which results in snow ball effect on general acceptance.

It is however important to examine society constantly, there's still problems, including in the GLBTI community with the acceptance of feminine gays etc. Perhaps society's problems can't really be solved.
Posted at 28/12/2014 03:54:42 EST 0 comments

How to solve climate change

Something must be done about climate change, we're running out of time. Fortunately governments across the world are introducing carbon reduction legislation, unfortunately this may not be enough with the upcoming industrialization of countries such as India etc.

Telling corporations to reduce carbon emissions has not been particularly effective in the past. The Kyoto Protocol was practically ignored. I don't think that this an effective course of action. Not only do Oil companies rally against climate change legislation but they fund organizations to spread misinformation to the public about climate change and buy up media like newspapers so they can get them to not cover climate change. Big Oil/Mining won't give up their profits and it's pointless to expect them to. It is also not effective to turn it into a marketplace with the Emissions Trading Scheme/Cap And Trade. In my opinion this is absolutely pointless and doesn't solve anything. All you're doing is moving money around. Corporations can also just pass costs on to consumers, I don't think that this is very effective in solving the problem.

I strongly believe that global warming requires a technological solution. We're not going to solve this otherwise. Asking corporations to reduce emissions is not working. The answer has to be technology, specifically carbon sucking technology. We can already imitate trees with 1,000 times more power. We should build these on a large scale, it could make a difference. Other solutions could involve carbon capture but as I understand it's both difficult and expensive to store carbon in large amounts. One thing that I need to stress is technology always improves so while it may not be viable now it could be viable if enough research goes into it. Perhaps we just need to find alternative ways of dealing with carbon. As climate change gets worse, I'll be highly surprised if we don't resort to the solutions I outlined. The sooner we do this, the better.
Posted at 28/12/2014 03:51:45 EST 0 comments

My thoughts on The Zeigiest Movement

Let's talk about the Zeitgeist Movement. The Zeitgeist Movement is basically automating everything so nobody has to work. At first it sounded crazy, then I warmed to the idea after the third movie came out. Now a conversation with a supporter has kind of turned me off, but I think that their ideas are still praise worthy. I just disagree with the way they go about it, and, thinking about it as a write this, they have attributes of a cult.

I love the idea of skyscraper farms, self driving cars and automating every part of manufacturing so goods and services will be generated automatically. However this poses problems with non renewable resources and land. An answer for this is "Some people will want to be on top, however other people wouldn't mind being on bottom", which is a leap of faith.

Another common criticism is if nobody worked nothing would improve. I disagree, I know if I don't do something constructive I get bored and depressed. However in a world with realistic sex robots (eventually) maybe I can live with not being constructive. However not everyone is motivated by the same things, some people do actually want to make better for people and even if the rest don't, things will still improve. Some of the technological progress hasn't necessarily been inspired by profit. This requires a different mindset. People today crave for wealth and success. This has to change. There is also a satisfaction with oneself by people who work for a living followed by contempt for people who don't. This has to change. Also this mindset can make people idiots! Some people would rather vote for a party that would punish beneficiaries rather than one that reduces unemployment. If unemployment is reduced there will be less people needing welfare therefore the ratio of your taxes that is spent on the welfare system would go down. Apparently some people are too stupid too understand this.

I would have left things here a month ago but a conversation with a Zeitgeist supporter really annoyed me.

He refuses to vote in the US presidential elections because it would "legitimize the system". This is such a stupid position. The system is already legitimate, a few thousand people not voting does absolutely nothing to change things. If you are not using your voting power to vote for the lesser of the two evils, your are only helping the worst party. The two parties are not the same, this is an overly simplistic view, although they may be extremely similar on many issues. If you don't like what's being offered, get involved, put up your own candidates etc. Not voting and just hoping things will change will accomplish nothing, and furthermore your inaction becomes part of the problem.

Why I say that The Zeitgeist Movement has cult like attributes is you basically have a leader that is promising a divine future, encouraging people to not go with the \'system". These are attributes of a cult. I'm not necessarily calling The Zeitgeist Movement a cult. I also note that there is no clear path other than just hope that people change their ways, the equivalent of offering continuous hope without actually doing anything productive. Believing that the attitudes that humanity's attitudes as a whole will change also requires a giant leap of faith. Personally I'm not sure that I can subscribe to this belief.

Upon further reading, their monetary history seems to be sketchy, with misquotes etc. Thinking about it, a red flag was them saying that 9/11 was an inside job, which I don't believe is true. Though the mainstream explosion theory is just plain crazy. No explosion was necessary for the planes to come down.

Conclusion: This is an odd position. Originally I was going to write this from a more supportive position however I have modified my views very recently, as recently as today. I am still very keen on the idea of using science and technology to automate nearly everything, but I do recognize the problems. Additionally I view some parts of the movement as being counter-productive and to learn that the films were creative with facts is really a turn off. I support the scientific ideas behind The Zeitgeist Movement, but not the people behind it.
Posted at 28/12/2014 03:49:02 EST 0 comments

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