Hi there! I’m Madison, and I just recently joined the PD Narrative gang. I'm a junior English major here at Ohio University, and I’ve been watching thousands of YouTube videos this month so you don’t have to. Video seems to be the favorite form of communication these days, and people with Parkinson’s are no exception.
1. “Hi, my name is”
These videos are made by regular people, who begin with the dreaded diagnosis story, then move to “where I am now”--how they came to terms with the disease and learned to persevere.
Here’s two of the most popular vlogs. “Popular” usually means a couple hundred views accumulated over time, but these have significantly more than that.
Which one do you like more?
These are produced by prominent research foundations, and usually include basic facts about Parkinson’s, ending with an appeal for donations.
These videos have titles like “Face of Parkinson’s” or “____’s Story about Parkinson’s,” which assumes that people won’t care about Parkinson’s until they can link it to somebody. The following is a good example of a “collage” video (notice the juxtaposition of Parkinson’s people with medical experts (in white coats, no less!)):
The black and white images and neutral backgrounds, combined with the dramatic music and the relentlessly inspirational phrases was just too much for me. However, I understand their intentions: to evoke an emotional response, to get the viewer to reconsider perceptions of people with Parkinson’s and to create support for their research.
Here’s an example of a really interesting and creative promo from the Shake It Up Foundation in Australia:
3. Celebrity Videos
These are pretty self explanatory, right? Parkinson's people find it helpful to see hyper-visible celebrities talking about the disease, especially when they have it.
These celebrities include Ben Petrick, Freddie Roach, Jane Asher, Katie Couric, and of course, the ever-present Michael J. Fox. (Because they're celebrities, we figured you could find them on your own.)
Does it make a difference to you if the celebrity has Parkinson’s or not? Does the video lose credibility if the celebrity is just a spokesperson for PD?
Here, doctors talk straight into the camera--think a video version of WebMD. There’s a wide range of videos, each focusing on a single issue, so it’s easy to search for an answer to whatever question you may have.
Which example do you like best?
As the apprentice video producer here at the PD Narrative Project, this is my favorite category. There’s dance, poetry, acting, all kinds of different ways to share their stories. Instead of just a diagnosis story and a catalogue of symptoms, these videos tell stories about living with Parkinson’s.
Here a woman with young onset PD describes how PD changed her daily life and how music keeps her going when her symptoms get rough:
Here a man uses poetry and video to tell a story of how his PD symptoms made walking home difficult:
Of course, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE videos are our own! (And not just because I helped shoot one!) We’re going into this project with an awareness of what’s out there: we’ve spent a lot of time looking at other PD blogs and videos, and we’re figuring out our place in this digital space. We want to share unheard stories, and we want to help others tell their stories in imaginative ways.
Who knew that Parkinson’s would be such a popular topic on YouTube! You’d be surprised at what you can find. At this point I’ve only scraped the surface, and I’m sure there's more to discover. Let me know in the comments if you’ve found anything you’d like to share!
Thanks for reading, and see you on YouTube!
P.S. Want to see the strangest video related to Parkinson’s I found? Click here.