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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

I spoke with NPR today on a show called Where We Live. The topic was perceptions of people with disabilities in the media. Apparently I did a good job but I could hardly hear John Dankosky, the radio host; they have a great producer team (Brianna and Catie) who got me some questions in advance, which probably saved the segment. Next time I’ll drive up to the studio in Hartford. Anyway, after I spoke I was thinking about how film and television shows represent disability—both good and bad. A colleague wrote after hearing the piece and said a “good” example is Michael J. Fox’s role on The Good Wife. I agree. Another is RJ Mitte in Breaking Bad. Mitte has cerebral palsy and he even admits to making it seem worse than it is on TV, for effect. It’s not like people with disabilities can just make their symptoms appear on the ... keep reading »
The setting: Phoenix. The scene: American Idol, season eight, the momentous singing competition that makes or breaks the dreams of young, hopeful talent. Tonight’s two-hour premiere was well worth watching to the very end, when 23-year old Scott McIntyre auditioned for the judges. McIntyre has been blind from birth. Sporting a ‘Mind the Gap’ t-shirt (a nod to London’s famous ‘tube’ system) that he thought Simon Cowell would appreciate, McIntyre won the judges over with his rendition of Billy Joel’s And So It Goes. Because of my hearing impairment, I rely on my boyfriend to tell me whether each contestant has a good voice. “Is he good? Can she sing?,” I ask during each performance. I had my fingers crossed for McIntyre. “He’s pretty good,” my boyfriend replied, somewhat tentatively. When the song finished, I sat up straight in my seat. I had seen contestants with disabilities compete on Idol ... keep reading »
On Saturday night, SNL portrayed New York Gov. David Paterson in a four-minute “Weekend Update” segment as confused and disoriented — often looking in the wrong direction and mistakenly walking in front of the camera when it was not his turn to speak. The skit includes Gov. Paterson saying, “Come on, I’m a blind man who loves cocaine who was suddenly appointed governor of New York. My life is an actual plot from a Richard Pryor movie.” After watching the skit, Gov. Paterson said it went too far, saying such “third-grade humor” only adds to negative stereotypes. But I’m starting so see a trend here: Disability humor is now up for grabs along with the more traditional racial and ethnic jokes. There was the New Yorker cover depicting Barack Obama as an Islamic, and the movie Tropic Thunder that parodied actors who tried to “act” disabled or black, giving us ... keep reading »
The Black Balloon, a movie opening today in New York City and Los Angeles, is about an Australian family who has a severly autistic son, Charlie, and must find ways to cope with his emotions and antics. Calling the movie “harrowing,” New York Times movie critic Stephen Holden asks: “Would you be able to cope? … Would you find in yourself the seemingly infinite reserves of love and patience possessed by the Mollisons, the movie’s itinerant, highly stressed army family who have just moved to the suburbs of Sydney? Maybe not.” The Black Balloon stars Luke Ford as Charlie, the autistic teenager; Rhys Wakefield as his brother Tommy, and the Oscar-nominated Toni Collette as their mother. With a tag line “Normal is Relative,” The Black Balloon is a story about fitting in, discovering love and accepting your family, no matter the price. keep reading »

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