I’m going to try and discuss the born-with versus acquired experience of disability…
Looking back on my years only-with-cerebral-palsy, they were my most active years, and eventually, the most integrated. Most of my friends when I was 29 were able bodied, I had a husband, a job, an apartment and shared expenses on a car even though I couldn’t pass the permanent driver’s test.
Intellectually, I will always support anybody in regard to disability rights, whether it’s born-with, acquired, just-found-out-about-last week. Intellectually, when working on these things, I will never differentiate between one experience and another in a way that raises one at the expense of the other.
I refuse to be so divisive out in the world.
But if I’m honest, don’t I have to admit *somewhere* when I hear these courageously battling back from injury stories…and how it’s so tragic, I sometimes think “Welcome to my neighborhood formerly Privileged Person. You’ve had X years of being able bodied. I’ve had none. You have the mental experience of what it’s like to run, to jump. You at least *know* what that’s like. I can only guess. So stop kvetching (complaining) and suck it up.”
But of course….Karma gets you for that kind of thinking.
I’ve had several acquired impairments between the ages of 30 and 50.
Because I now understand the two part life, the before/ after problem, I *empathize* profoundly with others who’ve acquired disabilities. Prior to stacking up my list of acquired stuff…it was one life…bumpy but one life…now it’s a series of cracks that need adaptation…and both sides are visible.
The huge frustration, of knowing you used to be able to do X thing…and now cannot (when you’ve not yet found an adaptive way that suits you.)
The suddenness of the difference in the way you’re treated in public spaces. (when I went from crutches to a wheelchair I noticed this a great deal.)
Often, there’s a fairly quick shift in socialization. Acquired disability has cost so many people relationships, friends, lovers, spouses…in who stays in your circle and who decides to leave…(this can be very painful and contributes to the ‘disabling’ aspect of any impairment.)
In those of us ‘born with’ disability…a lot of my associates have worked out long time friendships/support systems that are just subject to life changes, the same as the able…in other words the friendship isn’t likely to turn on the disability itself.
Anecdotally, I believe the ‘born with disability’ crowd is less likely to have an officially sanctioned romantic partnership. They work out solutions, but it’s different than the piece of paper. I have no clue why that is…but it’s out there. If you acquire disability, and you have an existing marriage…it’s tough, see above, but you may very well keep that. You keep some pieces of able privilege.
One of the reasons I’m talking about this is a fine piece by Laurie Crosby
that really brings out the two different lives, pre and post disability…while showing someone who is doing the hard work of accepting the good in our community.
Holding on to this division is a drag and a detriment to discovering each other. Discovering our ability or skills or gifts, what we can bring to the work of disability rights…
By the same token, if we deny this is a long standing divide for some folks, we’ll delay the best strategies for trying to cross it or put it down.
Nothing about us without us.
All of us.
Seems that the latest critical fashion means cutting up Aaron Sorkin’s work People don’t like it because the characters talk too much. (???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s *Sorkin*), or because McAvoy and his producer cannot seem to maintain a professional relationship (this is fiction IRL I can’t see any news anchor hiring an ex)…many of the criticisms about weak women seem valid to me…(I’m a woman)…
In a fictional TV drama…
Are the characters interesting?
Are the plots interesting?
Yes, because they’re well written and they’re pieces of what we’ve just been through as a country.
You want to see what these people will do or say next. You want to know. And that is both the key to interesting, and the key to ratings which mean $$$ and renewal which, BTW the Newsroom has already..
What I get from Sorkin’s writing is he lets his people say what the rest of us wish we could, while giving them flaws big enough to be seen from a distance.
I would never invite serial womanizer Will McAvoy to dinner.
But it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t watch his “newscast” every night.
In a swamp of niche market reality tv….(Cajun Pawnstars of Remodeling Hoarders of New Jersey)
This is gold.
If you want to compare Sorkin to Sorkin, or bring him down a peg fine.
But even if The Newsroom was as bad as those who dislike it say it is…it’s still light years above what I force my remote past at lightning speed every day,,,,
This notice comes from Turner Classic Movies via the H-dis disability studies listserv via my good friend Bridgett Williams-Searle. I am going to quote bits of this email rather than the entirety to preserve blog etiquette…but October is going to be an eye-opener for the subset of TCM viewers who don’t know anyone with disabilities and never thought the popular culture view of disability as something that could be studied…
TCM to Examine Hollywood’s Depiction of People with Disabilities in The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film in October
Lawrence Carter-Long Joins TCM’s Robert Osborne for Historic Month-Long Film Exploration, Presented in Collaboration with Inclusion in the Arts
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will dedicate the month of October to exploring the ways people with disabilities have been portrayed in film…
all films will be presented with both closed captioning and audio description (via secondary audio) for audience members with auditory and visual disabilities.
The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film features more than 20 films ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s. Each night’s collection will explore particular aspects, themes, or types of disability, such as blindness, deafness and psychiatric or intellectual disabilities. In addition, one evening of programming will focus on newly disabled veterans returning home from war.
TCM’s exploration of disability in cinema includes many Oscar®-winning and nominated films, such as An Affair to Remember (1957), in which Deborah Kerr’s romantic rendezvous with Cary Grant is nearly derailed by a paralyzing accident; A Patch of Blue (1965), with Elizabeth Hartman as a blind white girl who falls in love with a black man, played by Sidney Poitier; Butterflies Are Free (1972), starring Edward Albert as a blind man attempting to break free from his over-protective mother; and Gaby: A True Story (1987), the powerful tale of a girl with cerebral palsy trying to gain independence as an artist; Johnny Belinda(1948), starring Jane Wyman as a “deaf-mute” forced to defy expectations; The Miracle Worker (1962), starring Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), with Jack Nicholson as a patient in a mental institution and Louise Fletcher as the infamous Nurse Ratched; The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), the post-War drama starring Fredric March, Myrna Loy and real-life disabled veteran Harold Russell; and Charly (1968), with Cliff Robertson as an intellectually disabled man who questions the limits of science after being turned into a genius.
the atmospheric Val Lewton chiller Bedlam (1946), the intriguing blind-detective mystery Eyes in the Night (1942); A Child is Waiting (1963), with Burt Lancaster and Judy Garland; the British family drama Mandy (1953); and a bravura performance by wheelchair user Susan Peters in Sign of the Ram (1948). A complete schedule is included.
Each year since 2006, TCM has dedicated one month toward examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed in the movies. Several of the programming events have centered on Race and Hollywood, with explorations on how the movies have portrayed African-Americans in 2005, Asians in 2008, Latinos in 2009, Native Americans in 2010 and Arabs in 2011. TCM looked at Hollywood’s depiction of gay and lesbian characters, issues and themes in 2007.
“The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film is a valuable opportunity to take a deeper look at the movies we all know and love, to see them from a different perspective and to learn what they have to say about us as a society,” said Osborne. “We are very proud to be working with Inclusion in the Arts on this important exploration. And we are especially glad to have Lawrence Carter-Long of the National Council on Disability with us to provide fascinating, historical background and thought-provoking insight on how cinematic portrayals of disability have evolved over time.”
“From returning veterans learning to renegotiate both the assumptions and environments once taken for granted to the rise of independent living, Hollywood depictions of disability have alternately echoed and influenced life outside the movie theater,” said Carter-Long, who curated the series. “Twenty-two years after the passage of the ADA and over a century since Thomas Edison filmed ‘The Fake Beggar– When screened together, everything from The Miracle Worker to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest reveals another layer where what you think you know is only the beginning.
James Taranto @jamestaranto
“I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice. “