Monday, October 6, 2008

It must be my anti-PC day...


Advocates Protest 'Blindness'
by Jonathan Crow
Hollywood has trouble with portraying disabilities. Even when they try to do the right thing, they still manage to tick people off. That was the case for this summer's blockbuster comedy Tropic Thunder and it's happening again with this week's release Blindness. In "Tropic Thunder," Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) tells fellow actor Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) to "never go full retard." The scene is hilarious, satirizing Hollywood stars' tendency to play disabled in pursuit of Oscar gold. Think Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump" and Sean Penn in "I Am Sam." The film's satire, however wasn't appreciated by disability advocates who slammed the use of the R-word as "offensive and demeaning...it fuels social stigma against vulnerable people."
Fast forward a couple months and a similar controversy is playing out with Miramax's latest release. "Blindness," based on a book by Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago and directed by Academy Award nominee Fernando Meirelles, depicts a city in the thrall of a virus that suddenly robs its citizens of their sight. Soon society collapses and stricken descend into a brutal Hobbesian new order. When the book came out, it was praised for its use of blindness as a metaphor. But as the movie is about to be released, it has been lambasted by Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.
"The National Federation of the Blind condemns and deplores this film, which will do substantial harm to the blind of America and the world. Blind people in this film are portrayed as incompetent, filthy, vicious, and depraved. They are unable to do even the simplest things like dressing, bathing, and finding the bathroom. The truth is that blind people regularly do all of the same things that sighted people do."Read the full statement >>
Miramax responded, "We are saddened to learn that the National Federation of the Blind plans to protest the film 'Blindness,'" and that director Meirelles "worked diligently to preserve the intent and resonance of the acclaimed book."
So, is the NFB justified in its criticism of the movie or are they missing the point?
Normally I pay little attention to stories like this because I think they are just silly, but what caught my attention this time was the actual reason for offense stated-- that the blind are portrayed as more or less savages. Granted, there are few things a sighted person can do that a blind person can't learn to do, but the key word there is "learn". In this film everyone (but the horrid Julianne Moore) is suddenly stricken blind, so there is no period of adjustment, no one to lend a hand. There lies the difference... disabled people and their advocates don't ever want us thinking they are less capable than the rest of us, but everyone needs time to learn and adapt to their situation and needs help from others to do so.
Also, if you read the full statement linked above, there is an objection to Julianne Moore being presented as superior to the blind because she still has sight-- aside from the old saying, "In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king," of course she has a unique advantage in a world suddenly thrust into darkness, and she has the only flashlight... silly people...
This reminds me-- the next episode of 'Mythbusters' (one of my all-time favorite shows) has a segment where they test whether or not a blind person can drive a car with a "backseat driver" guiding them (as shown in that highly overrated movie 'Scent of a Woman'). That could be cool but I am sure it will offend all the blind people who watch the show... oh, wait.............................

4 comments:

joe bloke said...

bollocks. them, not you. honestly, if these people want to save us all, then why don't they go out and protest about soft-core snuff movies that are being spoon fed to the people? Saw, Hostel, Captivity, etc. surely, these are the films that those who want to save me should be screaming about?

assuming, of course, they've seen them. . .

Lisa_mynx said...

oh, dont worry, they attack anything that doesnt have a G-rating... unless that G-rated film has magic in it then they attack it too

BW said...

Must admit I got a bit tired of people acting like I'd suddenly become a bit thick when I had to spend some time in a wheelchair, so I sort of understand the defensive attitude.

I dunno...I think once you're experiencing disibility...you don't really know how you'll react when someone's seeming to take the piss out of you. Even is they're really not. I guess it's the period of adjustment, you talk about & how comfortable they are with how things have turned out.

The point about using disabled actors to portray characters that have a disability is a valid one, though. I wonder how much of the decision not to use them is based on insurance.

Anyway...thanks for popping over the other day.

Lisa_mynx said...

If it were actual disabled people who were outraged, that would be a different matter, but these are the advocates-- liberals who tell the world how they should feel and expect us all to fall in line with how they feel about things...

And I have spent my time in a wheelchair-- there was even a point where the quacks suggested I might not walk again or if I did I would be severely limited... I didnt pay attention to what others said or did then either