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.