This fall HBO debuted a new documentary called Any One of Us that follows mountain biking star Paul Basagoitia in the wake of a 2015 bike crash that left him paralyzed. Using first person footage captured by Basagoitia and short interview segments with an array of familiar and unfamiliar SCI personalities, the movie aims to pull back the curtain and allow the millions of people who tune in to HBO for entertainment escapism a glimpse of the realities of spinal cord injury.
As a sucker for a good documentary, and someone with an obvious interest in anything and everything SCI-related, I was stoked to dig in, even if the movie poster’s lone image — Basagoitia standing with hand crutches in a desert and looking at his reflection in an oasis — had me a little leery.
If 30 years of New Mobility have proven anything, it’s that there is much more to life after SCI than trying to walk again. That’s not to downplay the importance of walking — it’s huge. Most of us would be thrilled to wake up tomorrow and go for a leisurely stroll in the park, but working to walk again is only a piece of a much more complicated puzzle of recovery.
Yet all too often, media portrayals get so lost in the easy (and ableist) “will he/she walk again” narrative that they forget the other pieces and leave their audience with an incomplete picture.
While Any One of Us is not without its strengths, most notably Basagoitia’s willingness to bare himself both physically and emotionally on camera a