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When you are disabled it can be exciting when a movie about a disabled character comes out because disability inclusion is important for educating society that may not be around disabled people very often. I love to see movies about disabled characters but unfornately ninety percent of the time I am very discouraged and have nothing good to say about them because it wrongy portrays the disabled community and is just awful. I think a vast majority of the time filmmakers aren’t trying to wrongly portray the disabled community. but you do when you don’t hire disabled people to play disabled parts and make us all seem suicidal. Most movies with disabled characters are total garabage and I typically will not watch them unless I know the disabled character actually has a disability and even then the movie isn’t always that great and could be better. I like to think that movies with disabled character are getting better but we still have so much work to do because we are still creating movies with terrrible messages and I think the main reason for that is disabled people are never consulted and if we are you are not seriously taking our considerations. In this post I am going to talk how we can improve movies with disabled character and make them better represent the disabled community.
Minimize sex scenes- There is nothing wrong with telling abled-bodied that you can have sex with a disability and it’s important we talk about it because some people think we can’t but there are ways to do it that are not inappropriate for kids. I recently saw a movie called Champions which is a basketball film that features kids with intellectual disabilities and for the most part, it was a good movie because all the disabled characters were actually disabled and the message was better than most movies I’ve seen. The movie was not bad but it’s not how I would have done it because there was too much profanity and sex talk that I believe was unnecessary. A low-functioning disabled person will sometimes say things that are inappropriate because they don’t know any better but typically it’s not something they came up with on their own and in most cases, it’s something they heard from someone else. If you want to have disabled people openly talk about sex it needs to be from someone who understands what sex is because if it is coming from someone who barely knows their name it’s not good representation. Why is it important that we tone down the sex scenes in movies with disabled characters? The problem with having a lot of sexual scenes in movies about disabled characters is that it narrows down the amount of people who can watch that movie and we need to be making it available to as many people as possible. Parents with young children are not going to take their kids to movies that have a lot of sex because it’s not age appropriate for them and we need to keep that in mind when making these kinds of films because it doesn’t matter how great the movie is if there are too many sex scenes only some people will be able to watch it. Kids need to see authentic disability representation as much as adults do if not more so because you have to expose your kids to disability at a young age or it will turn them into abliest adults which will be more difficult to unlearn. Sex scenes are what entertain a vast majority of people in society but I don’t think it needs to be in movies about disabled characters that were made educate and personally I think all of these movies should be G-rated because you can make a movie that is safe for kids of all ages without it being too cheesy.
Hire disabled writers and actors– If you have ever watched a movie about a disabled character you may notice that a vast majority of these storylines portray disabled people as suicidal, inspirations, or very smart and able to cure themselves. The average person who never is around disabled people may think these are good plots but they are not and I hate it when movies make disabled characters commit suicide because it puts the message out there that all disabled hate themselves. Disabled people are more likely to become depressed than abled-bodied people because we live with constant daily challenges that abled people don’t have but that doesn’t mean we are all depressed and a lot of us aren’t and we shouldn’t put the message out there that it’s our disabilities that make us depression often it’s ableism and the lack of accessibility. Filmmakers need to start hiring disabled writers and actors because abled people tend to have a much hard time coming up with good storylines than a disabled person who lives with these challenges will. If writing about disability is easier for actual disabled people then why are you still not hiring us because if you can hire abled-bodied people to write you can hire disabled people. There is nothing wrong with making movies about disabled characters that make you feel good about yourself but it has to be right and the only people that know how to do it right is actual disabled people that live with these challenges. Abled-bodied people might be able to sit in a wheelchair and act disabled but it’s not going to be as authentic because abled bodied people tend to exaggerate how hard things are or struggle with things that someone who has had a disability their whole life would not struggle with.
Stop making cures as your plot- A vast majority of movies and tv shows have cures somewhere in their plot and we need to stop using these storylines because in real-life doctors cannot cure whatever illness they want and sometimes we are just stuck with what we have. Many disabilities and chronic illnesses have no cure so why are we curing incurable disabilities in movies? It puts out a terrible message that disabled people can cure themselves by going to a smarter doctor when realistically that would never happen because doctors don’t have the answers to everything. We need to start showing disabled people living well in films instead of desperate for being cured because not all disabled people want cure but you never see that in films.
Language matters- In the movie Champions there may have been a few instances where incorrect terms were used but for the most part the language they used when talking about disability was okay and I have seen much worse. If there is one thing that I think filmmakers should get right when creating films about disability it’s the language you use when talking about disability. You should not use terms like wheelchair-bound because a vast majority of disabled people do not use those terms and may be offended by it. The language you use in films matters because the average person will hear terms in movies and not know that it’s the incorrect one and be oblivous to the fact it’s harmful toward disabled people. I am always hearing people use ablelist terms to indentify disability and I mostly blame the media for that because correct terms are almost never used and people are normalizing terms like wheelchair-bound when it should not even be in your vocabulary.
Write a review– If you are disabled and see a movie about a disability character that wrongly portays the disability community write a review about it on public platforms. Abled-bodied people don’t typically see ablelism in movies as easily as disabled people do and it’s important that we educate people when we see poor representation because most people will not be able to recognize ablelism in movies. . I don’t like writing negative movie or accessibility reviews all the time but sometimes it’s necessary because it’s through the negative reviews that help people improve and if we are always telling people how great things are things will never change. If you feel bad writing negative reviews I wouldn’t look it as doing something bad but rather as an opportunity to help people do better.
Films about disabled characters are necessary to help educate society about disability because most people have never met a disabled person and everything, they know about disability inclusion comes from what they see on tv. . Disability is one of the most misrepresented communities and it’s not because movies about disabled characters don’t exist, but they are almost always poorly represented because people aren’t consulted. If people would hire more disabled writers and actors and actually listen to the input of disabled people, I think we could start making movies with good representation. There is no excuse for not hiring disabled people to play disabled parts and I think people just don’t want to do it because they think that an abled person can act disabled just as well as disabled people can, but no one can represent the disabled community better than people who live with these challenges. How do you think we can improve movies about disabled characters?
*If you want to read more about this topic, check out my post on how filmmakers get disability wrong here*
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