Crip Buzz April 2013

The Best of Disability Blogs and Banter

cripbuzz413Disability in Film: Are Attitudes Changing?
Rust and Bone, The Sessions, Amour and Untouchable [originally released as The Intouchables] are all fine films. But I doubt these films do quite enough that we would regard them, a decade from now, as major milestones in the development of cinema’s approach to disability.

It sometimes seems like filmmakers believe audiences will only be interested in the business of becoming disabled, and the short-term psychological effects thereof, when I’m certain the reverse is true. How we became disabled is often the least interesting thing about us. It is how we spend our lives afterwards that is usually most worth documenting, as evidenced by The Sessions and Untouchable. They tell the true stories of paralyzed men who did extraordinary things. Or rather, who refused to be prevented from doing ordinary things.

It will only be when films featuring disabled people become so commonplace that they cease to seem like a genre of their own, that we will truly have passed a turning point in the way film chooses to show us.
— Scott Jordan Harris, www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ouch/

Disability and the Individual Achiever 
As Paralympian and Olympian Oscar Pistorius faces charges of premeditated murder, the media is filled with predictable hand-wringing about the knock-on effects for public perception of disability. A worried commenter on a current events blog brought up what must be a common theme for many. She works in an after-school program for disabled children and opined, “I always tell my kids ‘If Oscar can do it, you can do it!’ What do I tell them now?”

I’m not sure what you should tell them now, because I’m not sure I can get into the headspace where it would’ve made sense to tell them “If Oscar can do it, you can do it!” in the first place. I’m fairly sure that most non-disabled kids aren’t sitting in their after-school programs being told “If Usain Bolt can do it, you can do it!” What an odd thing that would be to say them.

Disabled people can be inspirational, or they can be pitiful. They can’t just be normal, everyday people. The man without legs who heroically overcame all odds to be a track star — we like that story. The man without legs who desperately needs your charitable contribution to afford a new prosthesis so he can walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding — we like that story too. The man without legs who became an accountant but is facing some access barriers at work — we’re pretty uninterested in that story.

Oscar Pistorius didn’t redefine conceptions of disability. He was — and may continue to be, depending on the verdict of his trial — an incredibly talented athlete. He was an inspiration, because that’s what we expect disabled people to be. And that doesn’t change anything.
— magicalersatz, feministphilosophers.wordpress.com

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