Matt Glowacki
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Matt Glowacki

Allendale, Michigan, United States

Allendale, Michigan, United States
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The best kept secret in music


"Speaker Addresses diversity using Family Guy and South Park"

When Matt Glowacki, a speaker who was born without legs, took the stage in the Cape Cod Lounge, any sense of awkwardness that was felt toward his birth defect was immediately eliminated.

Glowacki, who was visiting the school Wednesday night as part of his lecture, “Diversity through South Park and Family Guy,” introduced himself to the audience by jokingly acknowledging his lack of legs. He told the Cape Cod Lounge’s audience that, “for the next hour, it’s going to be all right to laugh at people with disability.”
Knowing that it was the question on many of the guests’ minds, Glowacki addressed his handicap by telling the audience that he was simply born without legs.
“I don’t have any legs because I was born that way,” he said. “No one really knows why it happens. But, it doesn’t stop me from lying to children.”
“Everything else is there and works just fine,” Glowacki added, drawing the first of many laughs from the crowd.
After opening the evening by making the audience more comfortable about why he is in a wheelchair, Glowacki talked about his life and how he never let his handicap stop him from enjoying what he does.
“I found things I like to do and turned them into jobs,” he said.
Beginning his lecture, Glowacki spoke about how it is television, rather than parents, that teaches children. According to Glowacki, in a given week, teens will spend 35 to 55 hours watching television but only 38.5 minutes in meaningful conversation with their parents.
He followed with what many people had come for, a clip from “Family Guy,” which focused on body image. Afterwards, Glowacki broke down the segment, examining the use of satire and parody to show a point. He said that, by using these methods, “South Park” and “Family Guy” make strong social commentary and carry legitimate messages.
While Glowacki would go on to show other clips and analyze them, actual discussion of the shows was less than an audience member might have suspected.
“The reason why I use the branding is to draw in as large an audience as I possibly can,” Glowacki said afterwards. “So those people that come here that want to be entertained by the show, I feel that I deliver because I give them parts of the show I want to bring their attention to.”
Glowacki discussed a number of other topics in diversity like race. But in the end, the lecture’s strength was in Glowacki’s discussion of the type of diversity that was most familiar to him – disabilities.
Glowacki defined a disability as anything that limits people from being unable to get out of cars quickly, like getting a flat tire, 13 feet of snow or a bad girlfriend.
Ableism, or what Glowacki originally called “gimpphobic,” was the recurrent theme as he often referred to his past experiences.
Rather than complain about his experiences though, Glowacki focused his efforts on educating the audience as to how to talk to a disabled person and avoid offending him.
“If you come up to me and say ‘wow, you can drive a car, how do you do it?’ That’s being ignorant. If you come up to me and say ‘I understand you can drive, but how exactly does it work?’ Then I’d love to talk to you.”
He also addressed the issue of taking the handicapped stall or parking space, saying that, even though it may not happen to you, it will always happen to the handicapped person.
“It may be one in a hundred for you or even one in a thousand. But for me, it’s 100 percent of the time.”
Glowacki began his career as a DJ so that he could still go to dances and get paid for it. As his business grew, he also took up making customized wheelchairs. Because, as Glowacki joked, he is quite familiar and fond of wheelchairs, he has helped make wheelchairs for Olympic athletes around the world.
An Olympic athlete himself in sit-down volleyball for the Special Olympics, Glowacki often used his past experiences to help portray life through the eyes of someone who uses a wheelchair. Having no legs, however, has not affected his happiness or his sense of humor.
“People tell me ‘no, you can’t love your life because you have a disability,’” Glowacki said. “I tell them, ‘my disability means more to you than it does to me.’ I tell people that walking is overrated.”
Overall, Glowacki’s presentation got a positive response from the crowd, enjoying both the humorous and educational aspects of the lecture.
“I loved it, I really did,” senior and nursing major Charlotte Chery said afterwards. “It was informative but it was also entertaining. I learned a lot from it.”
“I like all the ‘isms’ he talked about because I don’t always thing of those things,” senior Aouatif Ansari, a marketing major, said.
Nick O’Malley can be reached at - Daily (UMASS)

"SP & FG provide diversity lessons your parents never did"

Matt Glowacki impressed quite a crowd in the Barry B. Thompson Student Center ballrooms. Despite the hail and the flooding of Lillian, Vanderbilt and Ollie streets almost, 100 students learned about diversity as it is portrayed in "South Park" and "Family Guy." His colorful character and language gave him great crowd appeal. It also allowed him to be able to talk about serious topics just as the shows he spoke about do.

Because of his special circumstances, Glowacki has a different view on diversity than most people. He defined diversity as "taking time to learn from people different than yourself" and lamented that many people do not think of diversity in the same way.

His initial presentation proved just how ineffective political correctness is in a world like ours.

Glowacki feels that political correctness has led to what he calls "lowered expectation words" that do the opposite of what they are designed to do, leading not to empowerment but toward bitterness. He used the example of "wheelchair confined" as the politically correct term for people who such as himself use a wheelchair as a way to move faster and more comfortably. Glowacki, who was born without legs, has gone to the paralympics in volleyball, which he played not in a wheelchair but on the ground and regularly goes hiking.

He also noted that the widely used term "handicapped" actually developed as a derogatory term for people who were disabled in the depression, because they sat around with a cap in their hand asking for change. Though such politically correct terms can be frustrating, Glowacki urges that one should not "give people the power to make you upset because someone is ignorant" but to instead use it as a chance to educate someone.

It was then that Glowacki moved to the meat of the matter-- TV and its portrayal of diversity.

He said that in most houses there are more TV's than there are people, a ratio of 2.55 people to 2.73 televisions. An even more astounding statistic is that in any given week parents will spend an average of 38.5 minutes of quality conversation, while 35 hours will be spent in front of the TV during the same week. It is up to TV to educate about many issues, including diversity.
Glowacki argued that both "South Park" and "Family Guy" do so in a very effective manner. He noted that both shows were based off of "All in the Family" and that even in the theme song to "Family Guy" they allude to the moral values that are inherent in the show.

Clips from both shows were even used to highlight three major diversity issues that are common in the world- lookism, ableism, and racism.

Lookism describes the tendency for people to discriminate based on the physical appearance of yourself and/or others. He used clips from the "Family Guy" episode "He's Too Sexy For His Fat" to illustrate his point. Glowacki noted that the media portrays an unhealthy thin person as the way we are meant to look. He also said that in many cases, the faces of celebrities that you see are highly manipulated with both makeup and digital enhancements. Children as young as 4 years old lament their body image and one out of four college-aged women have some type of eating disorder. Lookism is used by companies to sell products, like the 100 billion dollars spent on dieting alone last year. He also wowed the crowd with Dove's short called "evolution" which shows how a homely looking woman can be turned into a superstar with modern magic. The short is available on YouTube.

Ableism describes the tendency for people to discriminate based on a perceived disability, Glowacki's self-term for it is "gimp-phobic." He used clips from the "Family Guy" episode "Ready, Willing, Disabled" to illustrate his point that people should not assume that because they are disabled something is impossible or difficult. To do so can be insulting but people should instead focus on how such things can be done by a person with a disability.

At Tarleton, racism is something most people should be more than familiar with, especially during Black History month. However, racism is not just a black/white issue. It involves any group being derogatory of another. He used clips from the "South Park" episode "With Apologies to Jessie Jackson" to show that the real value with racism comes when someone realizes they are ignorant, as Stan does in the episode. When someone realizes they cannot fully understand what it is like to be different in a particular way, then they can be educated because of their open mind. Glowacki also focused on the fact that it is content and intent that makes any word malicious, including "the n word."

In the end, Glowacki said that people would not perpetuate such problems if they were held accountable and encouraged the crowd to discuss diversity with their friends to help illustrate clear boundaries of what is acceptable.
- The J-Tac (Tarleton College)

"Speaker Matt Glowacki Discusses Prejudice with "Family Guy""

By: Sarah Favo
The second clip from Family Guy was about ‘able-ism’ or treating people differently because of their disability. He called this as ‘gimp-phobic’. People tend to over accommodate, or ignore people who are disabled. “It is as normal for me to use a wheelchair as it is for you to walk around,” said Glowacki to the group gathered in the Pryzbla Food Court.
In fact, he prefers the wheelchair because he can move around for a long time, while people who walk can’t. He used himself as an example saying he is still active as a DJ, gives talks to different people and makes custom wheelchairs. The wheelchair he uses is one he made himself. He made his point that people must see potential in others. If people wrote him off because he did not have any legs and wasn’t worth anything, he wouldn’t be what he is today, which includes a paraplegic Olympian. He also said since 1/3 of veterans are disabled we need to confront our attitudes. Because of the GI Bill, all veterans from the Middle East will return to college. Students will need to adapt when they find people with missing limbs in their classrooms.
The third clip from South Park discussed racism. He wanted to make the point that white Americans will never know what it is like to be called any name. People need to talk about what each name means and how using each name affects people.
He concluded with two final points: do not give approval by not speaking out against discrimination and celebrate the differences in people. This can improve the world. - CUA Tower (Catholic University of America)

"Disabled Comedian reads deeper into FG & SP"

The legless stand-up comedian, Matt Glowacki, kept an audience of about 250 rapt with attention Wednesday night in the K-State Student Union Ballroom with his show, “Diversity according to South Park and Family Guy.”
If children are going to watch 30-55 hours of television a week, they should at least be aware of the hidden meanings behind their favorite shows, he said, referencing the satirical undertones of the pop-culture cartoons.
“Family Guy” for example, is a satire of “All in the Family;” a popular 1970s sitcom known for polarizing audiences between those who understood its blatant and satirical discrimination and those who took its discrimination at face value. “Family Guy” audiences are similarly polarized.
Glowacki illustrated his point by showing clips from the shows that addressed discrimination of black people, handicapped people and fat people that audience members might have misinterpreted when they saw them on TV. He then seguewayed audience laughter into an informative discussion about addressing ignorance of minorities with sensitivity. He gave examples of what an ignorant question would sound like; such as, asking a disabled person if they can or cannot drive a vehicle or compete in athletics.
“I want you to assume I can do whatever it is you’re going to ask if I can do,” Glowacki said. “You should have high expectations for people with disabilities.”
Not only can 36-year-old Glowacki drive a car, but he was a Paralympic athlete, owns three businesses and tours the U.S. with his diversity program.
His program focused on the power people give words like “handicapped” and “the n-word,” a phrase he said originated in the first O.J. Simpson trial when the media was trying to quote a racist lawyer.
“A word is just a word until someone says it’s a bad word,” he said. “Language is the agreement of the meaning of words.”
Glowacki said the best time to influence people who use hateful language is in small groups of friends, since it seems everyone has a friend who uses offensive language. He suggested audience members use shows like “Family Guy” and “South Park” to make such confrontations easier with humor.
“It was eye opening,” said Kelsey Donahue, junior in public relations. “He pointed out a lot of good meanings you don’t normally assume are under there are when you’re watching shows like that. [He] really encouraged us to look at things from a different perspective.”
Glowacki is in the business of engineering custom wheelchairs for disabled athletes around the world as well as teaching disabled war veterans how to regain their confidence by playing sports again. He said more people should consider using their talents to help assimilate people with acquired disabilities into society because of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan.
“There is a 1:12 death-to-violence ratio, which means that out of every 12 people injured in war, only one dies,” Glowacki said. “One-third of veterans have already applied for disability.”
City employee Greg Weber said he decided to come to “Diversity According to South Park and Family Guy” without knowledge of Glowacki’s perspective on the topic of diversity.
“When I first saw the poster, I had no idea he didn’t have legs,” Weber said. “You assume everyone you hear speak will have legs, but when I saw that he didn’t, it wasn’t an issue. He made an excellent point. His name isn’t ‘Handicapped’ — it’s Matt.” - Kansas State Collegian

"Family Guy Teaches Morals"

Last Wednesday, students watching Family Guy and South Park filled the basement lecture hall in Breckinridge. They did not watch the popular TV shows for fun. Instead they learned about diversity as part of Black History Month activities on Morehead State University's campus.

Matt Glowacki has toured the country with his show called "Diversity According to South Park and Family Guy." He explained how these two controversial TV shows that are favourites among college students can teach students lessons about beauty standards, discrimination, political correctness, and racism.

One of the clips Glowacki played was from a 2007 episode of South Park called “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson.” In the episode, one of the main character’s dad uses a racial slur he believes to be the solution to a puzzle on Wheel of Fortune. The category was "People Who Annoy You" and he answers with the N-word.

“People think racism is a black-white issue,” Glowacki said. “It is not. Any group of people that discriminate another group of people is racist.”

Glowacki, who was born without legs, has been the target of discrimination himself.

The first public outing for Glowacki and his first girlfriend was a high school dance. It was also their last. His date disappeared to the bathroom with one of her friends. Later, the friend emerged to inform Glowacki that his girlfriend did not feel comfortable being seen with him in public. Glowacki decided that would never happen to him again.

Glowacki said people often do not know what diversity is.

"A lot of times people are like, 'I know what diversity it. Diversity is walking around knowing what differences people have,'" Glowacki said. "That is not diversity. Diversity is taking the time to get to know people on the inside to see the abilities in them."

He encouraged students not to automatically judge people based on their appearence, but take the time to get to know others.

“What people don’t realize is that you don’t really know anything about another person until you spend time with them, until you find out what their loves are, what they do for a living," he said.

While many people he has met think of him as an inspiration, Glowacki thinks differently.

"I like to think I do change people's minds and all that, but I really don't think I'm an inspiration," Glowacki said. "It's the people in the military, the firefighters, the policemen. It's the people who put their lives on the line every single day. Those people are the real inspirations."

Student Activities Council (SAC) President Zach Goble came up with the idea for the program, when searching for educational events SAC could offer the campus community.

"I came across Matt Glowacki and Diversity According to South Park and Family Guy. The event had a catchy title and great reviews so we said, why not?," Goble said.

Goble was pleased with the turnout for the event, estimating 125 attended.

"The room was filled to its max capacity," Goble said. "Educational programming can be difficult to get people to leave their dorms for, but this one really sparked interest."

Junior Andrew Hickerson was one of the students attending the event.

"I thought it was a creative way to relate an important social issue to a younger generation," Hickerson said. "It started as a way for me to get extra credit but it ended up giving me a greater understanding of race, gender and disabled relations."

Junior Charles Mitchell was surprised the event was pro-Family Guy/South Park.

"I thought I was going to have to defend two of my favorite shows," Mitchell said. "Normally these shows get such negative press that when there is anything that shines a positive light upon them I find it surprising." - The Trail Blazer (Morehead State University)

"SP & FG teach diversity"

By Staff Writer DAVID BERSELL - Matt Glowacki entertained and educated UMF students on diversity, with topics ranging from physical beauty to disability to racism, on Monday, March 9th. The laughs and lessons began right away: As the program started at 9 PM in Lincoln Auditorium, Glowacki said, “If I fall off the front of the stage, don’t worry, I’m already in a wheelchair.”
First-year student Pat Hurd said that he loved Glowacki’s sense of humor and facial expressions. During the question and answer section of the program, one audience member even compared Glowacki to Robin Williams. “It wasn’t what I was expecting,” said senior Ben Pass, who attended the event because he really liked South Park and Family Guy.
Using power point and video clips from the popular shows during his near 90 minute presentation, Glowacki preached openness and discussion as a way to end the prejudice that comes from lack of information. “You don’t know anything about a person until you spend time with them,” he said.
Garnering two mid-lecture applauses and a few gasps, Glowacki said that he does not worry about being politically correct. He said, “Sometimes I offend people…Sometimes I say wildly inappropriate things” Though sometimes controversial, he explained that South Park and Family Guy actually teach morals through parody and satire if watched closely.
After the show, Glowacki said that he chooses speaking topics for colleges which seem the most pertinent for young people. Currently they include body image, as 1/4 of female college students suffer from an eating disorder, and disability, as 1/3 of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return with a disability. Sophomore Stephanie Waterhouse said that she agreed on the importance of the lectures topics, especially body image.
Glowacki said that as years pass, young people seem to be more receptive to topics like diversity. He challenged the crowd to “tell stories through your experiences” as a way to educate others.
After the lecture, Glowacki encouraged questions and joked around with students. He said that he understands when people have intelligent questions. Whether they concern how he drives or how he was born with no legs, Glowacki said that he does not mind, “as long as people have good intentions.”
He also teased that being in a bad romantic relationship for four years was his “biggest disability” ever. On his first time speaking in Maine, the positive and ever-smiling Glowacki said that the state “has a really good quality of people. I could easily live here.”
At 35, Glowacki currently lives in Sun Prairie, WI, where he runs two businesses, one which customizes wheelchairs and another that offers DJ and entertainment services. He also teaches competitive wheelchair sports, after playing on the USA Paralympic Team for Sit-Volleyball for eight years. This is on top of his 200 speaking events a year. He said that by turning the things that he already loved doing into jobs, he promoted his own happiness. - Farmington Flyer (University of Maine Farmington)

"Legless Man Explains Diversity using SP&FG"

For Matt Glowacki, a man born without legs, diversity is an important issue especially among teenagers and, he said, the best way to explain diversity is by watching "South Park" and "Family Guy."

Glowacki told about 75 people Wednesday night that parents in the U.S. spend only about 38.5 minutes per week talking to their kids. And with more TVs in each American household than residents, the TV is an alternative source for kids to receive education on moral and societal values.

Glowacki intentionally joked at his own expense as he rolled up the ramp onto the stage of the East Ballroom in the Lory Student Center so as to point out the elephant in the room: The fact that his legs stopped at his thigh.

"Political correctness is crap," he said, "but there are lots of angry handicapped people out there that stand by it."

Glowacki encourages people to learn from "South Park" and "Family Guy" because they put everything out there - race, disability and appearance - and still provide lessons.

He started his campaign to break down racial and social barriers and spread diversity in college and has since given over 200 presentations and won two awards for his work over time.

"The idea of diversity is getting to know someone from the inside," Glowacki said.

At his presentation Wednesday, Glowacki showed a number of video clips to help make his point. The first clip was from an episode of "Family Guy" in which Peter Griffin, the main character, almost loses his family as a result of his plastic surgery binge.

He said it represented the idea of 'lookism' or discriminating against people based on the way they look.

"Its important for you to understand," said Glowacki, "The images of beauty you're comparing yourselves to are no more real than these cartoons."

Glowacki also provided another "Family Guy" example in an episode where Joe, Peter Griffin's paraplegic neighbor, competes in the "Special People's Games" to depict the problem of 'able-ism', or discriminating because someone is handicapped.

Glowacki made up "gimp-phobia" in place of able-ism because, to him, it is more accurate.

"I see disabilities as challenges we have to overcome," Glowacki said. "Have you ever had a flat tire on your car? That's a disability."

Finally, Glowacki attacked racism with an episode of "South Park" where Stan and Token, the show's only black student, fight about Stan's understanding of Token's status as a minority.

He used this episode to explain how no one can really understand what it is like to be a part of a certain minority, but at the same time, everyone is a part of some minority.

Several students commented on Glowacki's performance and said they appreciated his take on diversity.

"(Glowacki) is very funny and has a lot of energy," said Theresa Wellington, a freshman journalism and technical communication major. "He uses humor to break down barriers."

Others applauded the university's commitment to promoting these social issues.

"It's really cool that CSU addresses the issues within diversity," said Jesse Casaubon, a senior pre-med major and member of the Contemporary Issues sect of the Associated Students of CSU. "He brought forth a lot of points I, and a lot of other people on campus, never would've considered."

Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at
- The Rocky Mountain Collegian

"Glowacki offers new outlook on Popular shows"

"South Park" and "Family Guy" are most likely seen as racially stereotyped programs on television, but a presentation entitled, "Diversity According to South Park and Family Guy" dug deeper into the diversity issues involved in the two shows.

"It uses the two TV shows, and how diversity is shown in there, and actually how diversity is taught. I think when people really look at the cartoons they don't think about diversity and how they are actually teaching about it. They think it's very, very racial, and filled with racial profiling and stereotypes," Jarrell Jackson, chair of Redbird Diversity, said.

Inspirational speaker, Matt Glowacki, discussed stereotypes and issues of diversity while incorporating clips of "Family Guy" and "South Park."

"[Diversity] is a process we all engage in every single day. I think diversity should be a verb because the magic of diversity happens when you interact with people you normally would never interact with, and then you learn from them," Glowacki said.

The concept of isms tied the lecture together. The first ism discussed was that of lookism.

"It is discrimination towards people based on the way they look, but it could also be within a person. When you look at yourself in a negative way," Glowacki said.

One out of four college aged women has some sort of eating disorder. Lookism could be a factor involved in women's body issues.

"It is the way the products are marketed to us. Every product is sold to us under this premise called fear, uncertainty and doubt. They try to make us scared or make us feel uncertain like we need something in our life to make us feel better about ourselves," Glowacki said.

Ableism is discrimination towards people based on the fact that they may have a disability. The character of Joe, from "Family Guy," was used as an example because he uses a wheelchair.

Some people react differently when they are interacting with a person who has a disability. Glowacki discussed how some people will ignore someone who is disabled while others will try to over accommodate them.

"It's all about lower expectations for people that are different," Glowacki said.

By tying in racism, Glowacki brought up the concept of people trying to alleviate the distress of others when they are hurt by a particular comment or insult.

"People think they are doing something by trying to solve the problems with these issues," Glowacki said.

Glowacki discussed the importance of television and the media in today's society.

"Everybody watches television now. It actually does a lot of teaching...television is educating our kids," Glowacki said.

What is seen on the television and what is witnessed in the real world could sometimes give individuals misinformation on a particular issue. The easiest way to educate others is to discuss topics together.

"Understand things on multiple levels. Just take the time, explain the jokes to everybody else…also when you watch something be thinking about it," Glowacki said.

Events of this kind give students the opportunity to gain new opinions and viewpoints on programs they regularly watch.

"People are not cultured. They don't now about other organizations or other races. This will open people's eyes to a different outlook."

As Redbird Diversity chair, Jackson tries to look for programs that deal directly with issues of diversity.

"This was something different that ISU has never seen before," Jackson said.

The event was held in the Brown Ballroom of the Bone Student Center. The event was sponsored by Redbird Diversity.

- Daily Vidette (Illinios State University)


Programs include:
-Diversity According to Family Guy and South Park
-Doing Happiness
-Diversability Challenge
-Walking is Over-Rated
-Designing your own Gold Metal
-Hooray! Building A Community Out of Classmates



Matt Glowacki’s “Diversity According to Family Guy & South Park” is the most booked diversity program on College Campuses, and in 2010 AND 2013, he won “Best Diversity Artist” from Campus Activities Magazine.

Matt teaches three different topics of Diversity all in one program and uses clips from two of today’s most popular television programs to tie it all together. The cartoon branding brings in the students and the real life references and examples drive home his ideas.

This fun and high paced experience into Diversity is like nothing else out there. You never watched television like this before.

Program Goals:
•Teach Diversity in a non-threatening and relevant manner by tying in current media references and pop culture references.

•Illustrate the limitations of Tolerance and introduce the benefits of Engagement as a way to fight apathy on campuses.

•Attune viewers to a higher level of understanding of how the media portrays stereotypes about Diversity.