John's Not Mad (inc. The Boy Can't Help It)
The 1989 QED documentary 'John's Not Mad' chartered the life of a fifteen year old Scottish lad called John Davidson who has been living with tourettes syndrome. Now, thirteen years later (2002), Johns twenty-eight, and the makers of this program want to know what has changed for him since this show aired all those years.
However, for them to be able to accomplish this task, they follow John in his daily rituals, and interview him, his friend Dave Henderson, and his mother Heather. Plus, in addition to this, they also inter-cut snippets of the previous program into this one -- just to illustrate the passage of time and progress.
Here's a quick Q and A about what this documentary covers:
- Has Johns conditioned worsened over the years? No. It's about the same really. Except he's coping with his ailments a lot better now.
- Does John work? Yes. He's a caretaker at the local community center, and runs a local youth group too.
- What is his home life like? At the moment he is living by himself with his dog called Cassie.
- What about John's family? What's happen to them since last we saw them? Both his younger sister and brother are married with children, whilst his mother, Heather, has separated from John's father, and living in a new home.
Also, here's a selection of quotes made by John during this recording:
- People know me as 'f*ck off John'.
- Before the first program aired I wanted to hide myself away.
- I felt sad watching the show. I cried. I was desperate to find out other peoples reactions.
- Sometimes my ticks are kind of amusing, and I don't mind people laughing with me.
- I cannot remember what I was like without the ticks.
- School is full of bad memories for me. It was like being in prison.
- Sometimes sh*t happens -- I've got to live with it.
- When it first started to happen I did not know what was going on. I felt dirty.
- Tourettes has limited me to what I can do.
- If I did not have this condition I would have liked to have been a soldier or something.
- Good job I'm not criminally minded, I'd be bloody useless at it.
- I kept on blaming myself whenever my parents argued.
- My dog, Cassie, is my best friend. She's my shadow.
- I would like to meet someone someday, but I find it difficult.
After my last article related to the previous John Davidson documentary, 'John's Not Mad' (click here for the review), I got into a discussion on facebook about why I wrote this piece in the first place. You see, this chap called R0IE did not understand why I included this post into my blog, and just needed some clarification as to why I did it.
What now follows is a basic overlay of our conversation together...
R0IE: Why did you write it reviewer?
ME: Why do you ask mate? Didn't you like it?
R0IE: Yeah. I did. I just don't get why you wrote about some old documentary about some sick Scottish kid.
ME: Simple buddy -- to inform, and to tell a story.
R0IE: But what has that got to do with movies and comic books?
ME: Well, to get you to understand why I wrote this piece pal, let me ask you a question, OK?
ME: What do comics and movies have in common?
ME: Yes. You're correct about that. The do have characters. But they also tell a tale of how people overcome their difficulties. Batman with his lost parents. Superman with his need to help people. And generally any person with a dilemma they face, and how they try to face it.
R0IE: So what are you trying to say? That this Scottish kid is a superhero or something?
ME: Yeah. something like that. Just without the cape and the stately mansion. John has a problem that he can never fully escape from - like Batman has - and his only enemy is what's within him and the society around him.
R0IE: Oh! I never thought of it like that. It would make for a great movie, huh?
OK, I'm sure that you don't want to read my analogy comparing Nazi Germany to Kermit the frog, right? Though I am sure that you got the basic gist of my justification, and a simpler answer to a question that I wished I elaborated on further before. Just like these facts in fact. (1) Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that is characterized by compulsive, rapid, and sudden movements, vocalised with numerous 'tics' and 'phrases'. (2) This condition normally manifests itself before the age of eighteen. (3) The 'tics' in question occur on a daily basis, but can change periodically due to the severity of the symptoms. (4) It is believed that this condition is genetic in nature, and linked to an abnormal metabolism of the neurotransmitters in a person's dopamine and serotonin levels. Girls with this gene have a seventy percent chance of displaying any symptoms, whilst boys with this gene have a ninety-nine percent chance of displaying any symptoms. (5) There are a number of additional problems related with tourettes, like: Attention-deficit disorder, Disinhibition, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, Numerous learning difficulties, plus Varying sleeping disorders as well. (6) A number of famous people have had tourettes. Such as comedian, Dan Ackroyd; soccer star, David Beckham; English lyricist, Dr. Samuel L. Johnston; and film director / inventor / media magnate, Howard Hughes. (7) There was an autobiographical movie made in 2008 called 'Front of the Class' about tourettes syndrome. It was based on a book by the same name written Lisa Wysocky and Brad Cohen [who had tourettes]. Plus it was directed by Peter Werner and starred Patricia Heaton and Jimmy Wolk. (8) Jessica Thom created a hero called 'Touretteshero' to educate and entertain people about this affliction. Please check out her website - www.touretteshero.com
Overall 'The Boy Can't Help It' touched me in the same way than the previous program touched me -- in the heart and in the mind -- making me want to scream out in the sky for a solution to his frustrating illness. But it would not do anybody any good, would it? And it would not do John any good either. All I can do is help promote how tourettes affects those people who are afflicted with it. Well, you never know. Maybe one day my actions would reach the same level as John's courage, huh?
In closing, I'd like to thank Ruth Smith from www.tourettescotland.org for all the information she gave me about this condition. Your a star my dear. x x x
THE RATING: A