I am watching TV and suddenly I realize the sales woman in this Walmart/Verizon Razor M commercial is disabled.
She is on crutches (those of you familiar with disability know how to tell the difference between ones for injury and ones for disability) and it’s not mentioned or even concentrated on; I almost didn’t notice.
I have been rewinding and rewatching it over and over in shock. And even better, she is POC.
In Verizon and Walmart’s world disabled people of color exist and lead normal, uninspiration lives.
WAIT WHERE CAN I FIND THIS COMMERCIAL I NEED TO SEE IT WITH MY OWN EYES *mad dash to youtube*
[TW: This post talks about ableism, rape, sexual assault]
I’m going to talk about ableism, why it’s a problem and why I want to fight against it. Of course this is a personal thing for me. I’ve experienced it and I won’t pretend to speak for anyone else or their views or experience. Their disability is their experience. This is me talking for me.
“Ableism is not us being unaware or dishonest about our own limitations…” *applauds*
this is awesome.
dear jess, you are awesome.
A Fate Worse than Death: The Last “Outsider” in Popular Culture – Disability
This a panel at the upcoming GeekGirlCon and we hope to make it a fantastic panel with a lot of discussion. More than 1 in 10 Americans live with an apparent disability. But this isn’t reflected in books, comics, films or television (e.g. Less than 2 percent of TV show characters display a disability and only 0.5 percent have speaking roles). When seeking to include characters with disabilities, creators are asked, “Why?” There is greater acceptance when beloved characters are killed as opposed to maimed or permanently disabled; and celebrations when they are cured. It’s assumed that disability isn’t like diversity - it’s weird and different and uncomfortable and sad. Discussion will examine the reluctance to include characters with disabilities, common myths and stereotypes, and some of the common controversies using examples from popular and geek culture, personal experiences in industry and discourse with audience members. But we need you!
We want to hear REAL questions, hard questions! The panel is made up of folks with experience in film, comics, web-series and more; and all of them have either included disability, have a disability or been part of the battle for inclusion. What do want to hear about? I posting this prior to the event to urge people to send me (the moderator) questions. There’s no guarantee we can get to all of them, but here is an opportunity to learn what really goes on behind the scenes and as a community crowd-source ideas and solutions. So lets hear from you! Post in the comments or send me an email at DaysMail@gmail.com . If you prefer, I’ll even get on the phone with you, just call 206-333-1791.
Our amazing panelists:
TEAL SHERER- Teal Sherer is an L.A. based actor, producer, and activist for performers with disabilities. Her new show (which posts every Tuesday), is “My Gimpy Life,” a comedic web series produced by Rolling Person Productions, directed by The Guild’s Sean Becker, and written by Gabe Uhr. She was a founding member of Blue Zone Productions - a theatre company that promoted actors with disabilities, and played the role of “Honey” in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the NoHo Arts Center. Last year, she produced and starred in the Pulitzer Prize winning play PROOF, the first person with a disability to play the lead role of Catherine. However, most people may be familiar with Teal from her appearances in the third and fourth season of the award winning web series, “The Guild” as the recurring character “Venom” - a total bitch on wheels. Teal is a member of the SAG Performers with Disabilities Committee and teaches dance and drama classes to children with disabilities through the UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) Play Project.
LAWRENCE CARTER-LONG - Recognized for his expertise in the arts, access and media, Lawrence is a sought after media spokesperson on a wide variety of subjects ranging from medical ethics to media representation of disability. Appearances have included the New York Times, NPR, the BBC and several appearances on CNN, among others. Lawrence was founder and curator of the groundbreaking “disTHIS! Film Series.” Along similar lines, he has been a member of the steering committee of the ‘ReelAbilities: Disabilities Film Festival’ since 2010 and an advisor to NYC’s Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts as part of their Disability in Entertainment and Arts Link (DEAL) project since 2006. In May 2011, Lawrence began working with the National Council on Disability – an independent federal agency that recommends federal disability policy to the President, Congress and other federal agencies – as their Public Affairs Specialist. Lawrence curated and will be presenting a selection of films showcasing the history of disability in cinema on cable systems for Turner Classic Movies in October 2012.
LIZ HENRY - Liz Henry is a poet, translator, blogger, and editor as well as a computer geek and web developer. She has been publishing zines and small books since 1986. For Aqueduct Press, she edited WisCon Chronicles Volume 3: Carnival of Feminist SF. Her latest book is Unruly Islands, a collection of anarchafeminist technoutopian poems.
GAIL SIMONE - Gail Simone has written Simpsons comics for Bongo, Killer Princesses for Oni Press (with co-creator and artist Lea Hernandez), and a Rose and Thorn limited series for DC Comics. Simone is the creator of the Women in Refrigerators List, which raised awareness of the treatment of women in comic books. In 2003, she took over DC’s Birds of Prey title, turning it into one of DC’s steadiest selling and most critically acclaimed books. In 2007, she took over writing duties on Wonder Woman. Additionally, Simone’s commitment to creating diverse casts of characters led her to win a Glyph Comics Award for Best Female Character in Thomasina Lindo—one of the lead characters in Welcome to Tranquility—a creator-owned comic published by WildStorm. She returned to writing the Birds of Prey series for DC Comics and can be followed on Twitter (@GailSimone) or her Tumblr, “Ape in a Cape.”
DAY AL-MOHAMED - Okay, they’re the REAL panelists, I’m just moderating. :) But for those of you interested - Day Al-Mohamed is editor for the upcoming anthology, “Trust & Treachery” and hosts the multi-author blog Unleaded: Fuel for Writers. She is an active member of the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia Writing Group, and DC Women in Film and Video. When not working on fiction, Day is Senior Policy Advisor with the U.S. Department of Labor, heading up the Add Us In initiative, and as a part of the agency’s Youth Team she is designing a skills-based video game to better teach the Department’s “Skills to Pay the Bills” employment training curriculum. Day is proud to serve as Public Affairs staff officer with Flotilla 24-01 in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and lives in Washington DC with her wife, in a house with too many swords, comic books, and political treatises.
Boosting and attempting to come up with my own questions!
How the only time disabled people are portrayed in the media, they are not put in a good light. They are either put in some documentary about medical mysteries, that make us look like even more of an alien/freak show than we already do. OR they put us on a show like Extreme Home Make-over, or something along those lines, that makes us look like we have the most tragic life in the world. That we are so depressed, useless, and just flat out helpless. Basically, just like our life is one giant sob story. Or we are in some magazine or newspaper article about how we are some heaven sent angel creatures bringing light and joy into the world. Just for breathing we get rewarded as an “inspiration.” And for doing what? Living? Moving? Making something of our lives, like normal people do? Is that implying that we are not your definition of normal and should be rewarded for doing simple little tasks because we are that… “Crippled?” “Retarded?” “Useless?” REALLY? And lets not forget being used as the ol’ “If the girl in the wheelchair can move, (which, ya know, is so hard for damn cripples) then YOU should be able to do anything!!”
Just for once, I would love to see someone disabled in the media portrayed as an average member of society, just like any other person would. Because after all, are we really that different?
Preach it, Neen!
I am disappointed by the tentative crippling of characters in popular culture.
I want my characters crippled without apology. I want my characters to be broken and twisted with a permanence. I don’t want my charcters ailments or dysfunctions reversed, erased, and forgotten; I want them thrown in your audiences’ faces like a scalding pot of revelation and ingrained in their minds with braille so that when they confront us we are not expected to be reversed, erased, or forgotten. I want your characters decadently and extensively crippled without being tragic or inspiring, without the expectation to walk away unbroken and unscathed.
I want crippling your characters to be more than a dramatic apogee awaiting swift denouement. You owe it to your audience to cripple your characters with conviction; authentic cripples don’t miraculously and spontaneously recover, so why should you allow your characters to be any different? If you can’t be bothered to cripple your characters properly, abstain from doing so at all.
I want your character’s bodies to betray them, cause them pain, and I want it flaunted across the screen. I want your characters so explicitly crippled to the extent that their scars are too prominent to be dismissed. I want your audience to realize that crippled characters are not human despite their disabilities, they are human because of their disabilities. I want you to consider for one moment the notion of portraying your crippled characters as intricate human beings rather than ignoring their complexity by indiscriminately inserting them as a dramatic plot twist. Cripple your characters in a way that will redefine body image and challenge the perception of aesthetics.
Next time you cripple a character, I hope you have the audacity to keep it that way.
Love, an unforgivable cripple
Cripples don’t have to strive to become uncrippled. Why do they think we all want to? Some of us might, some of us might not. Sure, some of my impairments I could sure stand to lose, but the rest of them - they’re me, if I change them, am I me any more?
OH, HELL to the YES!!!!
People can’t handle the fact that some people are just different without having something fabulously acceptable as balance, because otherwise we’d just have to accept autistic people on their own terms, and that’s hard and challenging and takes patience and work.
Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.
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