What a Saturday Morning Cartoon Taught Me About Disability
The now-dying tradition of the Saturday morning cartoon was a weekend ritual during my childhood. Before my parents had cable and way before the days of Netflix, there were the main three channels beamed over rabbit ears. I had many favorites as a kid growing up in the late 80s and all through the 90s, but one show was a must-watch, with my giant bowl of Lucky Charms and bean bag chair in tow. It was an obscure show called “Project G.e.e.K.e.R.” (or Geeker for short.)
“Project G.e.e.K.e.R.” was a show created in the mid 90’s by Doug TenNapel of “Earthworm Jim” fame and was voiced by an all star cast that included “Futurama’s” Billy West and Cree Summer, who voiced Susie in “The Rugrats” among other characters we all grew up with. The show followed the many misadventures of a man-made genetic “mutant” named Geeker, a thief named Lady MacBeth who had a robotic arm, and their dinosaur friend named Noah as they tried to stay away from the evil businessman Mr. Moloch, who wanted to use Geeker’s powers to take over the world.
They just don’t make shows like that anymore, huh?
As a kid, I felt a great personal connection to this show, but up until now, I couldn’t explain it. I would bug my parents to try to find toys or things that had Geeker on it, but to no avail. I drew my own pictures of Geeker everywhere and even wrote obscure fan fiction, which is probably still on the internet somewhere.
But as an adult, I think I found out the reason why this show spoke to me.
Like Geeker, I wanted to be “normal.” As someone born a result of a “genetic accident” due to my rare form of albinism, I sympathized with Geeker. I knew the struggles he had in trying to navigate an often-cruel world, and his strong desires to fit in. He would often attempt to grow a fourth finger for his hand, which he never succeeded in doing. As the show went on, Geeker slowly learned it was OK to accept his flaws and embrace his strength instead.
You can still be tough while having a disability. Lady MacBeth, also known to Geeker as Becky, is the main heroine of the series. She’s tough, smart, and sassy… and she just so happens to be an amputee. Rather than feel sorry about her lost arm, she pimps it out with laser guns and mechanical claws. As a kid, I hated the assistive technology I had to use to make my schoolwork bigger, but after watching Becky use the tools she has, I realized that sometimes, adaptive technology can make you cool and almost superhuman. Although lasers being shot out of my eyes would have come in handy to deal with the bully who stole my lunch money, I made do with Close Circuit TV magnifiers and telescopic lenses. If Becky could be badass with her arsenal of technology, so could I.
I may make mistakes, but that’s OK. Geeker is very accident-prone, always finding himself in trouble somehow. He may not be the brightest of the bunch, and things might get tough, but no matter what pickle he finds himself in, he smiles and finds ways around it. I made a connection to this recently, while battling with bad PTSD symptoms and the consequences that have come about. But like Geeker, I refuse to give up or give in to what people think is best for me. I’m better than that, and I’ll rise up, even if it means taking a step back or asking for help sometimes.
“Project G.e.e.K.e.R.” was a rare gem in the Saturday morning lineup that was chock full of action, suspense, and a great non-preachy lesson in personal acceptance. It lasted only a season due to government regulations requiring more educational programming on children’s television. Not many people remember “Project G.e.e.K.e.R.” because it was short-lived. But its message was clear. “Normal” is overrated and anything is possible, even if you are a genetic accident in a yellow jumpsuit, or a nerdy chick with a rare condition.
Follow this journey on Legally Blind Bagged.