“America whispers the word Alzheimer’s because their government whispers the word Alzheimer’s, and although a whisper is better than the silence that the Alzheimer’s community has been facing for decades it’s still not enough.”
Those make up some of the closing remarks from a man who starred opposite James Franco in a hilarious parody of Kanye West’s “Bound 2” music video. An actor who portrayed a disgruntled barista whose get-rich-quick idea scheme was to create the adult film Swallow My Cockuccino. He’s the one responsible for co-writing a film that starred Jonah Hill being anally violated by a demon [spoilers for This Is The End, my bad].
Seth Rogen is all of those things, but he is also an Alzheimer’s disease activist.
Those of you who read my post in honour of my grandmother will know that she suffered from the illness during the last years of her life. For the better part of four years I lived with both her and my grandfather, and I was able to witness firsthand how it robbed her of her ability to recognize her loved ones and, later, even form simple sentences. The worst nights were when she refused to sleep, insisting that she needed to “go home” because her father would be upset with her.
That’s all to say what you probably already know, that Alzheimer’s is a disease that does the unthinkable and pushes you out of the victim’s memories. You can try to help all you can, but whether or not they realize it is another thing entirely.
Rogen has a full understanding of that, and testified to the US Congress yesterday, drawing on his own experiences with his mother-in-law. Honestly, you should really watch it for yourself:
It’s clear that he’s got jokes, dropping references to House of Cards and Knocked Up, which he starred in with Elizabeth Banks. He uses that to his advantage, however, insisting that if “a lazy, self-involved, generally self-medicated manchild” can care about something like this certainly anyone can.
His story about his mother-in-law “a teacher for 35 years [who] forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself, and go to the bathroom herself, all by the age of 60” prompted the response you can see on the left. It’s also a wake up call to anyone else who, like he once did, believes that Alzheimer’s is only for the very elderly.
It’s not all talk and no walk with him, either, as he created the organization Hilarity for Charity, a fundraising part of the Alzheimer’s Association. A legitimate concern for him is that “over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s and at this rate in 35 years as many as 16 million will have the disease”; that’s a fact that should frighten anyone.
He called for the US government to provide funding and, consequently, hope for an affliction that bears a heavy amount of both stigma and shame. That latter emotion is something he’d like to turn back on the senators who skipped his talk completely.
Of the 18 members who made up the US Senate subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies only two attended: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). While this certainly supports his assertion that this is a subject few want to talk about, the absence of so many political figures hurts his overall cause.
Even still, an A-list celeb like Seth Rogen appearing on C-SPAN is going to get attention, and it would surprise me if the YouTube video didn’t hit a million views by the end of the day. If the people are listening the politicians will inevitably have to as well, and I’m more than one hundred percent behind what he’s doing.
As icing on the cake, he also graced those halls with his laugh, and while not nearly as important it is very special.