Be Careful What You Wish For (The Failing of Batkid)


The world was captivated by a 5 year old California boy this week.

Here’s what we know about him.

His name is Miles Scott, he’s 5 years old and cute as button.  He’s had acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 months old, which thankfully is now in remission.

Every year tens of thousands of kids (which we’ll define as minors) are diagnosed with a form of cancer.  Cancer we can all agree is vicious but when tragedy befalls the young it is particularly stinging.  It’s hard to imagine a bigger injustice than to have to deal with such an ordeal so young in life.  Nonetheless, it persists, in spite of our “best efforts.”  Generally speaking disease is far from being eradicated in the lifetime of anyone living.

The Make-A-Wish foundation is a non-profit organization with a 30 plus year history of selfless dedication to young people who have had the bad fortune to be dealing with major illness.  Typically children are thought to be terminally ill, however Make-A-Wish has a method, which I do not doubt the integrity of, that dictates the selection of which wishes they will grant; a child may not be terminal, simply have a debilitating chronic disease, but for all intents and purposes are in critical struggle. The distinction is subtle, but existent.

When I was young, the people I can remember in similar positions were AIDS patients like Ryan White and Joey Dipaolo.   There was a concerted effort in the 80’s and 90’s to bring awareness and education of disease to the youth, a direct result of the unexperienced nature of deadly sexually transmitted disease.  Prior to that, STD’s were not destructive.  I think this influenced many people of my generation to think of disease in a distinctly different way than previous generations.

For example when AIDS came out, there was rampant misinformation regarding transmission.  What was drilled into us was you could NOT get AIDS (HIV) from touching, and there was no reason to not hug someone dealing with the disease.  Further, it was not limited to gays.  A generation before me such a scourge that was primarily focused within the gay community would have been handled differently, even though what the gay population experienced in the early days of AIDS in the 80’s was not ideal.

Fast forward to Friday and Miles saw his wish come true.  His wish was to be Batman for a day.  Can’t knock that.  Cancer has not eroded his taste.  Batkid he became.

This is where things get fucked up however.

In the supposedly exceptional America, the Make A Wish Foundation and the masses exploited Miles.

The typical Make-A-Wish wish is an intimate event for the patient.  This event was not such.  Adults decided to interpret his perfectly reasonable request, and manipulated it until it distorted.  They decided that his appreciation and the positive value/impact would be correlated to the amount of people, time, resources and social media dedicated to his wish.  How self-serving and obstinate they were.

The scope of this “wish” was perverted so much, it required a major assist from government, which the Make A Wish foundation will not be fitting the bill for.  Tax payers will.  Look at all the uniformed personnel (understand the public pays them) that there were and there were more you didn’t see.  This was an all-day thing requiring major reinforcements.  A 22 year veteran city worker for San Francisco told me he estimated it would be around a 400K bill to the taxpayer.

(UPDATE 11/20/13: The actual tab to taxpayers will be $105,000)

It’s my opinion, if an organization imposes its will on the populace in such a way that extracts such expense to the state, then it is incumbent upon them to see this expense benefits as much of the populace as possible.  In this case that would be other ill children.  Not just one.  There are thousands of severely ill children in the Bay Area.  Untold amounts more who would never qualify for a wish, but nonetheless need one more than Miles.

What does not benefit a society is perpetuating a lottery mentality, one in which dreams come true, but these dreams are dictated by the powers that be.  It just does not benefit us in the long run.  They should be fortified with the knowledge that self-determination and equality are the keys.

One kid lived a dream.  We all can connect viscerally with that notion.  For a brief moment in time, his life was perfect.

Should an advanced society promote such ideas though?

Is this not dangerous individualism at the expense of clearly pragmatic collectivism?

One thing is clear: the media loved it.  Clicks galore.  People made money.

How is it the general populace does not view this in an uneasy manner?  We elevated one child, in full view of the nation’s children, to demigod status.  If we really think about it, the effort that went into this was massive.  Millions of dollars, months of time, thousands of people.  At what point do we step back and say, “we’re just all living through this kid.”  Without realizing it, many people are using this kid to make themselves feel good by telling all their friends how “heartwarming” and restorative of humanity this makes them.

Sanctimony in the highest order.

4 Responses to “Be Careful What You Wish For (The Failing of Batkid)”

  1. Use word document to write your posts so they be free of misspells.

    >________________________________ > From: The Lupa Cartel >To: >Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 12:39 AM >Subject: [New post] The Failing of Batkid > > > > >Lupa posted: ”   The world was captivated by a 5 year old California boy this week.   Here’s what we know about him.   His name is Miles Scott, he’s 5 years old and cute as button.  He’s had acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 ” >

  2. Mellie Travers Says:

    Hi! I think your point of view is interesting, but is a little distorted. I understand where you come from: why this one kid and not the others, why use taxpayers’ money, or why make this simple wish so big? From the information I gathered, the public reaction to this event was much bigger than expected. When the foundation realized the level of interest, they took measures to include everyone interested, which required involving the city. I work in fundraising myself, and this event will probably generate thousands of dollars in donations revenue, which will be redistributed to other children in need. What seems like an exploitative event, from what I understand, was simply a wish that generated way more buzz than expected and ultimately transformed in a rewarding fundraising event, all the while gathering thousands of people willing to spend unpaid time doing volunteer work. From my point of view, the ”negative” all became really positive in the end, particularly for Batkid!

    • Hello Mellie. Thank you for your comment. I think Make-A-Wish was just overzealous. I think it was the ancillary parties involved that saw this as an opportunity for themselves. Why exactly did Obama make a vine video for him? Would he have done it if the story wasn’t so big? No. That was PR. Why did the SF Chronicle print 1,000 fake newspapers? I don’t know their motives, but my guess it was greenlit in an attempt to sell more papers. When this heartwarming story returns to room temperature this boy will have a great memory (whatever a 5 year old can remember anyway) but the resources used for this one fleeting moment could have been dedicated to have a wider impact. I understand Make-A-Wish operates to provide one wish to one child, but they also do not normally take such measures to fulfill a wish. It seems they were able to make an exception on the wish, but not the number of people granted the wish. I imagine being Batman for a day is more than just his dream. It’s rather generic.

      I appreciate your comment, and I have heard from others who provide similar response. In the end, it made more than one boy happy, it made millions happy. I get it, but it’s like if your kid wants to eat ice cream for dinner. It would make him/her very happy but was it the long term best thing to do? I’m not stuck on the fact he isn’t terminally ill, though I have to admit, if this was done for a boy who was I might not have been compelled to write this. Such a focus on one person I think would merit a more dire situation. This situation is kind of like a person that gives someone gift, but it’s what they want, and they want to be able to enjoy the gift themselves, while still having the appearance of being giving.

      My question is why do the same people who got so emotional over this, perhaps walk by an individual in need and not think twice? They might even show callous disregard. If humanity was actually as empathetic as this event would lead us to believe, the world would be a much better place.

  3. […] In a previous post I was critical of the event.  I felt it was unnecessarily exclusive to Miles, overly elaborate and the cost to taxpayers, which was later revealed to $105,000, should be billed to Make A Wish. […]

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