By David Bauer
Marcus, who has cerebral palsy, is a real jerk, and that’s good news for the rest of us with cerebral palsy.
Marcus is a character (played by nondisabled actor Leo Fitzpatrick) in the movie Storytelling. He’s a college student enrolled in a creative writing course along with his girlfriend, Vi. The movie’s opening scene shows Marcus and Vi engaged in wholesome, noisy sex.
And what does Mr. Sensitivity do immediately after orgasm, when most couples are content to lie blissfully in each other’s arms? He wants to read Vi a story he’s writing, a story Vi has already heard and isn’t interested in hearing again. Marcus, being Marcus, accuses her of no longer caring for him, and she dresses and leaves.
Despite his lack of interpersonal skills, the character of Marcus is actually a step forward in the film depiction of people with CP. He’s ambitious, aggressive, and sexually active. In other words, he’s an adult, flawed to be sure, but nevertheless a fully functioning, involved-with-life adult, which is a far cry from other portrayals of fictional movie characters with CP.
In The Score, for example, a recent film with Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, Norton plays a childlike, eager-to-please person with CP who is only too happy to have a job sweeping out a warehouse. And in The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey won an academy award for his portrayal of Verbal, a nonthreatening, self-effacing individual with CP whose goal in life seems to be the avoidance of doing anything that might offend someone else. Next to them, Marcus is a role mode