We’re not going to link to the video here, but you’ve probably seen the headlines stating that YouTuber MrBeast “cured blindness.”
First, they were excited: MrBeast Cures 1,000 People’s Blindness All Over The World! and YouTube’s MrBeast Helps Out 1,000 Blind People With A Massive Gesture!
And then, per the long-held traditions of the Internet, came the (deserved) backlash: MrBeast Cured The Blind, And Sparked A Fierce Debate and MrBeast Says He’s Raising Awareness Over Preventable Blindness. Others Smell Yet Another Stunt.
As we watched the story unfold, we wrestled with understandably complicated feelings on the issue.
Are we happy that 1,000 people who wanted surgery to restore their sight were able to get it? Yes, of course.
Are we comfortable with the way it came about? No – and we’re happy to share the reasons why:
🙅 People aren’t props or “content”
People in need – whether it’s due to disability, income or a combination of those or other factors – shouldn’t be used to create “feel-good moments” for someone else’s brand.
🏥 Healthcare is a human right
In a just society, people would be able to afford a simple, relatively inexpensive procedure if that was all that stood between them and sight. Instead, this became a spectacle for clicks and revenue.
👁️ Blindness is a spectrum
Headlines announcing that anyone has “cured blindness” are dangerous because they imply that everyone who is blind or visually impaired is just one surgery away from being “cured.” There are many types of blindness, and sight loss manifests in many different ways. There is no one way to be blind.
The surgery in this video addresses a specific type of blindness – and would be completely irrelevant for many other people who are blind or visually impaired. We can assure you: he did not “cure” blindness.
▶️ Accessibility – and authenticity – matter
Simply put, if the intentions behind this video were pure and driven by a desire to help folks who are disabled, there would have been a deeper understanding of the community. And that didn’t happen. Ironically, the video itself is inaccessible to folks who are blind – there’s no audio description, so viewers can listen to the content, but aren’t guided through what’s happening on the screen.
🚮 Ableism is trash
Ableist comments and “jokes” run rampant throughout the video, from the inaccurate – and arrogant – implication that folks who are visually impaired live incomplete lives and the “funny” prize signs that people weren’t able to physically see until after the surgery, right through to the “LOL” at the end that says, “I wonder if we’ll get 1,000 more views from the people we cured.” (FYI: people who are blind consume media – books, videos, and more – on their phones and computers every day with the help of access technology. So these folks may well have already been subscribed to – and watching – MrBeast’s videos.)
These disparaging comments are gross and inappropriate – no matter how much money you’re throwing at people.
So yes, we’re happy that these 1,000 people who were seeking an improvement in their condition were able to get it. But we won’t endorse the way they had to get there.
And don’t get us wrong – we’re not “coming for MrBeast.” We’re just disappointed. And we’re hoping he takes some of this feedback as constructive criticism and an opportunity to take a different, kinder, more authentic approach in the future.
A note to MrBeast…
MrBeast, if you happen to be reading this and you really want to help: Immerse yourself in the community. Understand more about the disability experience. Explore the possibilities of access technology. And embrace digital accessibility on your videos! You’ll be a lot better off. Because when you know better, you do better.