Welcome back! This week we continue our look at why Hollywood keeps having non-disabled actors fill roles of disabled characters (physical or otherwise) and portray people with disabilities on screen. And what better example of this than the BBC’s remake of The Elephant man (it probably sounds more like the name of a superhero to those not in the know, but a lot sadder than most, is a one-off series and, while I did not see the movie myself, I get the feeling that everyone loses. Also a lot less action), where, once again an able bodied actor plays a person with physical disabilities. But what, if you remember form the last post, is the industry-wide systemic problem?
According to The Guardian, “it’s routine for non-disabled actors to play disabled characters, often gaining critical acclaim in the process.” (The Guardian, Why are disabled actors ignored when it comes to roles like the elephant man? Paragraph 2). How routine? Why not ask, as examples from The Guardian itself, Dustin Hoffman from Rain Man (why is it called Rain man? Is he supposed to be omnipotent about the weather because of his Autistic/Aspergerss? Best. Weatherman. Ever) or Eddie Redmayne (cool last name. To bad he does not actually have a red mayne, or any mayne for that matter). Also, while your at it can you get an autograph from them for me? Not that I like either of them much...or at all, but only so that I can have two autographs from celebrities to lord it over my friends. Thanks.
Much like this lady above: show it off loud and proud, saying “hey, I’m an egotistical man that had an unhealthy amount of emotional response after receiving two pieces of paper from people of whom I only know through the screen”.
What this entails is a whole lot of bad news, to varying degrees. So lets list them all! Yeaaaahhhh!! It: takes away both work and exposure from legitimate actors with disabilities, forcing more into unemployment! (not like there isn't enough already) It pushes disability representation to the side in our arts and cultures! (not that they need help with that) It also has non-disabled actors act out the characteristics of our disabled community, without any input (or involvement) from us! But if you think that it’s just people with disabilities who are making noises about this, guess again.
The trans community started to raise a fuss after a cisgender actor was slated to play a trans character. Fortunately, she was wise enough to drop the role. Now if only if only we can get a none-disabled actor, or at least a non-physically disabled actor to start with, to do the same (ah progress, you’re always fashionably late). According to The Guardian, a fellow actor once wrote that “actors ‘cripping up’ turns disability into a defining feature, disrupts the story and makes the audience become voyeurs of difference” (The Guardian, Paragraph 3). You know how you want to cringe when most horror movies try to depict disability (with the notable exception of, I think, A quiet place, of whom I heard actually had disabled actors in it), especially cognitive or mental disabilities? Yeah.
Well, that does it for this week's post. Next week we will continue on with this subject, finding out just why it can be seen as contentious (which happens when we can’t find conscientious on an issue from conscious people. Though that may seem pompous). But until then, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
Welcome back! This week we will look at an interesting, and probably controversial, topic that deals with how the media sees out Aspie/Autistic community. And, in this case more importantly, how they portray us to the wider society, and I don’t mean in paintings (though you could argue that everything is a painting of some kind: movies and video games are thousands of individual paintings in a row shown for a split second, and that books are just paintings of either words or images glued together to form a storyline. Man, thats deep. I must be what they call...woke). No, I’m talking about how they act as us in the movies: non-disabled actors playing disabled characters in movies. Will, enough talking, let's get right to it.
We all know that acting is the art of pretending to be someone, or something, your not. But there’s a difference between imitating to flatter, and mimicking to mock. There’s a reason stuff like black-face is frowned upon these days.
Have you heard of the old British (I assume it’s an old British film anyways) movie called the elephant man? If not, here's a description from IMDb “A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.” (IMDb: film description of The Elephant Man, 1980). Why are we talking about it? Will the BBC is doing a remake of that very film and, surprise surprise, the actor who is playing the Elephant man is not physically disabled. Rather, it will be the actor from that 80’s nostalgic, rose-tinted (or a hit T.V. show if you’re a fan) Netflix series Stranger things.
And who exactly will this actor be? Why, none other than Charlie Heaton! You know, the guy that looks like he went for the bowl-cut/Beatles option, decided it looked to ugly, so had the barber sheer off a section at the front of his hair to make it look modern and awesome (or, if your a fan, the cutesy lad with the gorgeous Beatles-like hair do)? Will, regardless of what you may think he looks like, we can all agree on one thing: He is not physically disabled. Hair-style disabled maybe, but not physically.
Well, if the Stranger Danger actor is not fit to play the Elephant man, than who is? Why, have you ever heard of this man called Adam Pearson? Adam Pearson is an actor with neurofibromatosis (tried to copy that word for word from the article and still got it wrong, autocorrect saved the day again) a condition that, according to The Guardian, was supposed to affect Joseph Merrick (Of whom the movie is based on I assume). If you want to read more about the man behind the movie, see here by All That's Interesting. After all: if you thought that the last couple of posts were depressing...why not read something else that’s depressing! (highly encouraged by psychiatrists everywhere to bring down your mood, harsh your mellow, and to spread those negative waves. Like that famous line from Kelly’s heroes “there you go with those negative waves again”).
Hey, I gotta stay relevant somehow. You think I’m gonna let the news have a monopoly on depressing stories? Not a chance! Tears are the new show of support.
As Mr. Pearson, who The Guardian claims was not even given the opportunity to audition, says “It’s a systemic problem, not only in the BBC but industry wide.” (The Guardian, Why are disabled actors ignored when it comes to roles like the Elephant Man?, Paragraph One). Will, that does it for this week's post. Next week we will continue with this rather interesting, and relevant, topic. And fear not if your interested, I found a site with lots of sources about this topic (or if your not interested, than start panicking. You know, imagine your whole entire schedule is thrown out of whack or something, or all of your collection about your favorite interest was destroyed in a fire. Probably the same thing). But until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
Welcome back! This week, we will finish up our look at the SLATE article on Cri du chat syndrome (if you want to read the full article yourself, you can access it here). But until then let's pick up where we left off last time, when I was going on a rant about society and child rearing (always a fun topic. Try it with your friends! It’ll help you get all the romance you’ll ever want. Like someone once said: you’re going to win so much that you will get tired of winning). But enough about that, let's get back to the topic at hand.
Nothing brings people together than going on an angry rant about heavy topics like society, culture or politics. Or, if you love living dangerously, all three.
After the discovery of her son having Cri du chat, it was like she and her husband were out at sea, being told that their son would always be “profoundly disabled” (SLATE, Not Mine to Mold, paragraph 6). Feeling overwhelmed, she imagined a future based entirely on caregiving until a doctor suggested to her to have her son, you guessed it, institutionalized. At the time, she was, as she describes herself, “Clueless” (SLATE, paragraph 6), and thought the suggestion outdated (you know your assumptions about a certain demographic is, will, off-kilter when someone, who does not know much about the demographic themselves, starts to ask you “doesn't this sound...old fashioned?”).
But, upon going to some experts (and we all know those types of “experts”), they only made her worst fears seem right, even to the point of wishing she could go back in time to try and fix it. But she eventually realized that you can’t choose what your kid is going to be like. I would say more, but if you yourself have children of your own, you can pretty much fill in the blanks from here (also I don’t have kids myself, and I’m totally not letting you try to fill in the blanks so that I don’t have to type as much. Nope, I’m not lazy).
Would a lazy person try to minimize the amount they have to write each week, just to make time to watch cat videos? Yes, but I don’t watch cat videos, because I already have a cat that I can sit and watch for her to do cute stuff ours hours on end. Priorities people.
The author tried to get advice from therapists and teachers, but they weren't much help either, as “they didn't have access to long-term data, just a few decades of small scientific studies” (SLATE, Not Mine to Mold, paragraph 6). But here's the kicker: when the author then turned to social media, she found that the recommendations from the “experts”, therapists and teachers were not only outdated and lacking long-term data, but also incomplete, ignoring one perspective (deemed crucial according to the article, and they are not wrong): those from adults with disabilities. Long story short: she soon discovered that there is a whole different world concerning our Autistic/Aspie community and the disability community as a whole, one that rarely ever sees the light of day.
Well, that does it for this week's post. Next week we will be looking at another topic, as per usual. If I said it once, I’ll say it again (and again, and again, and…): we so do love our stable routines. If I was expected to suddenly start writing about clowns or the surface of the earth, my whole life would be ruined! (if you’re on the spectrum, you know what I’m talking about. If not, then imagine that one day you suddenly warped from your home country to halfway around the world! Or if you are halfway around the world, then imagine that warped to the other half of the world!). But until then, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.
Welcome back! This week, we will continue to look into the topic of Cri du chat syndrome and one mother's journey of caring for her child with the rare genetic disorder (and all the fun that it implies). Last week we left off by recounting some of the advice that was given to her by professionals, boiling down to having her leave her son at a feeding clinic isolated by his family (save for whatever time she would be able to go see him, which in her case would be none because of her busy schedule), the ever popular option of institutionalizing him, and the one good idea: reaching out to other parents who are in similar situations. Now let’s see where this parenting adventure will take her next.
Notice how I seem to depict all out adventures either on a boat cruise or under the water? Never on any actual land mass. Except for that one time with the fair and travelling to Britain and Scotland, but they don’t count as they are an island surrounded by water.
On top of everything else that she has experienced thus far, there was yet another realization that became quite clear to her: Raising a child on the spectrum (not to mention one with an extremely rare genetic disorder) was a lot different from raising a normal child. This was made extremely apparent to the author, as she has both a child who has all of the above, and some who do not. The author has, as they say, lived experience. Much like I have lived experience of accidentally putting my hand to close to a candle for a couple of seconds, but long enough so that the hairs start to burn. Lived (painfully) experience.
Concerning the parenting of her other children, she has a number of sources she could draw on, most of which, from what I understand, without much if any help from institutions. Sources like: generations of parenting knowledge, her own childhood experiences, observed other families parent/child dynamics, and parenting advice from conversations, magazines, newspapers, fictional books/movies/T.V shows. In other words, society, much like all other aspects of our lives that it touches, taught her, in large part of in whole, of how to raise her normal children.
But how many television shows, movies and/or books do you know of that teaches parents how to raise a child that is on the spectrum? (or at least those that give positive advice on such matters). Do you know of any family with generations of knowledge on how to parent a child on the spectrum? Have you ever heard it discussed? Probably not, or rarely if so. Society, it seems to me, does not seem to know what to do with such a child even if it dropped from the sky and started to do a jig. Except, of course, for the parents who are themselves on the spectrum, from which they might be able to benefit from their own childhood experiences at least.
Childhood can teach us many things. How to raise our own kids, what bugs are safe to eat raw, why attacking a nest of red ants can hurt a lot, and most importantly, how to try and not get in trouble.
Will, that does it for this week's post. Next week will be the last post on this subject, and the last stop on this particular tour of the Autistic/Aspie Atoll. Please leave in an orderly line as we drop you off onto your own island. Also, do not forget any valuables/items you bought with you on the trip, otherwise we will keep all items in a lost and found box/sell them on the black market for top dollar. Whichever comes first (hurry, they go fast). Until next time, this continues to be, the Audacious Aspie.