A few months ago, I mentioned to someone with whom I was having a debate on Facebook that I was disabled. (I was born with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a congenital connective tissue disorder.) He immediately dismissed everything I said because I was a “welfare recipient.” Obviously, the fellow was a dunderhead. He didn’t seem to understand that not all disabled people receive disability payments. I don’t; I’m certain Larry Flynt doesn’t. Even if we did, disability payments are not welfare. Even if they were, that wouldn’t automatically negate a disabled person’s opinion. Clearly, this fellow held a belief that disabled people are a drain on society and that they are of lesser worth than their able-bodied peers. I could dismiss the fellow’s reaction as being that of an ignorant fringe-dweller, but his attitude toward disability, while extreme, isn’t an outlier.
Although disability is common in society—about one in five Americans report having a disability—we’re more likely to encounter disability in film than in real life. I’ve seen far more deaf people, blind people, and mobility-impaired people in movies than I’ve met in real life, and I would bet that my experience isn’t uncommon. Our understanding of disability often comes from cultural products than from real life. How these cultural products present disability is vital, then, to how real-life disabled people are viewed and treated.
The Disability in Film Blogathon covers portrayals of disability in film and television, including physical impairments, developmental disorders, traumatic brain injuries, and speech disorders. (It does not cover mental illness—that’s a whole topic to itself. Nor does it cover terminal illness—the focus of the film or television program should be on living with disability, not on mortality.) Also allowed are the stories of performers with disabilities. Other topics related to disability in film and television are allowed as well—for example, the issue of able-bodied performers playing characters with disabilities or a discussion of the fact that performances of disabled characters are often given awards.
The blogathon will run from 24 October-26 October 2018, in honor of National Disability in Employment Awareness Month. As there are plenty of topics from which to choose, no more than two entries on the same topic will be allowed.
The Rules in Brief:
1) Entries must cover some topic related to disability in film, excluding mental illness or terminal illness.
2) No more than two entries per topic.
3) Blogs may post up to three entries.
4) No old posts. All entries must be newly posted.
5) To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog, along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover.
6) Posts must feature one of the banners below and a link back to the blogathon post on either Pop Culture Reverie or this year’s co-host, In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood.
Pop Culture Reverie: The Sessions, The Lookout
In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood: The stars who stuttered, The Spiral Staircase (1946) and TBD
The Stop Button: My Left Foot
Cinematic Scribbings: Immortal Love