Film and lit crit about disability

Injured warriors and waddling dwarfs
Beech leaves
Like practically everyone else, I have just read the Song of Ice and Fire books after getting hooked on the HBO series. And don't they have lots of disability stuff! I've just been rereading an old post of mine about how people with disabilities are looked at, and noticed a comment by storm_seller about the meaning of scars in the context of warrior literature. Definitely time to discuss all of this.

There are several major characters with disabilities, and oodles of minor ones who are missing an appendage, badly scarred, castrated or what have you. One thing the books made me aware of is how far the Lord of the Rings school of thought is sanitised in this respect. If you're reading heroic fantasy with constant wars, people really are going to get knocked about quite a lot, and it's not going to be pretty. Martin seems fascinated with this side of things, and is always describing how people look when they're disabled, or indeed how they look at any time. (He also has a thing about salads. Seriously, every time there's a meal, he describes the salad down to the last ingredient, which will usually involve red fennel. There needs to be more salad-oriented fantasy out there.) A big theme is how people work to gain or retain power when their disability has taken power away from them.

Spoilers for all the books published so far, I'm afraidCollapse )

14 nights
Thanks everyone who responded to my previous post! Here is the website:

14 Nights

It says it "contains nudity and sex" but so far, there are just one or two images of a guy sitting around without clothes on, as well as some curse words here and there.

A little bit of background: I started this story because I wanted to write a romance story but I was sick of seeing the same type of characters in every romance story ever. I got really excited the other day when the topic of incidental disability came up because it's something I've noticed and sort of intentionally tried to work against, hence this comic. I don't plan to ever go into how the main character lost his hand, I just figure that's how he is and he just trying to go about his life.

Mainly I want to know, from the perspective of a group of people who read a lot of books and watch a lot of movies and think about this stuff, am I falling into any traps that non-disabled writers tend to fall into without realizing? Am I doing anything egregious to my character that would instantly turn away any disabled audience I could hope to have? Thanks in advance; I take all feedback to heart.

Writer seeks criticism
*peaks around the corner*

Hi there. I've been lurking here for a while, but today I have reason to post. I'm writing a story, a webcomic actually, with a disable main character, and I would really like some criticism from actual disabled people (I myself am not). I won't post the link right now because I don't want it to seem like I'm spamming the group. If you guys are cool with helping a young writer out, I'll make a new thread and you can start ripping me a new one, haha.

SPOILER WARNING: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
Little Me
Massively spoilerific review of the book from the perspective of someone with osteogenesis. If you don't want to be spoiled, don't click the link.

Incidental Disability
Crutches 1
The discussion of transexuality in film was a spur to some thoughts I was already having about the portrayal of disability in film. There are at least three aspects to the way film deals with disability that we need the media industry to make progress on if we are ever to consider ourselves to be getting equal treatment. Those three points are
1) The use of disabled actors, even in roles not specifically written for disability
2) The portrayal of disability in a realistic and positive manner rather than as inevitably melodramatic tragedy.
3) The portrayal of disability when it isn't fundamental to the plot.

The typical film role isn't going to be broken if you cast a redhead, someone who is ethnically Chinese or so on, you might need to tweak a line or two but that's about it. A lot of roles can even be switched from one sex to another without breaking the fundamentals of the character as written. Looking at that from a slightly different angle, we get the idea that the role is independent of the character's physical aspects, it doesn't matter who you cast, just as it doesn't matter whether the cashier at the bank is a redhead, or the mechanic at your garage French. Take that another step and any random selection of film roles should include a bunch of crips - at 1 in 5 of the population it's difficult to avoid us!

That's what I mean by incidental disability. Disabled people are randomly scattered through the population, they should be randomly scattered through the people we see on film (and I don't mean disabled actors here, but disabled characters irrespective of whether they're being played by a disabled person). But when we do see disabled people in a speaking role, it's very rare that they are there incidentally, almost inevitably they are there because the role is very specifically a disabled one, with disability hooks into the plot. I've been trying to think of counter-examples on and off for a few days now, films or TV with a disabled character in a prominent position in the screenplay where the disability is incidental to the plot, and I have precisely two examples, neither of which is entirely satisfactory.

1) Mathilde in 'A Very Long Engagement' (aka 'Un Long Dimanche de Fiançailles'), Audrey Tautou is a young woman trying to trace what really happened to her fiance in the aftermath of WWI. She has restricted mobility from polio, so mostly relies on people coming to her, rather than chasing around the country herself. Polio isn't central to the plot, or even necessary to it, but it does show up rather a lot, which is why I'm not entirely sure it's a good example.

2) Joey Lucas in 'West Wing'. Marlee Matlin almost exclusively plays characters who share her deafness, and Joey Lucas was clearly deaf, but the storylines were about Joey as a political operator, if disability came up then it was President Bartlett's MS, not her deafness, but they did choose to give her an interpreter, so focussing on it visually and in the way she interacted with others, rather than just letting her get on with it.

There must be other examples, but I'm certain it isn't happening anything like as often as it should be!

Decent portrayal of transsexuality? ANYWHERE?
Beech leaves
Is there anywhere on TV or film which can manage a decent portrayal of transsexuality? The ones I've seen have ranged from mediocre to downright awful. I suppose they do have a serious problem in that most people don't know much about it, and the little they know is likely to be horribly wrong, but the attempts at audience education always seem to be so crude, and usually involve intelligent, sympathetic characters, the sort you'd expect to know better, saying dreadful things and being clumsily (and often poorly) re-educated. Having just winced my way through a CSI episode (Season 5) on the subject, which amongst other problems showed a madly complex reason for the murder without mentioning once that transsexuals are at very high risk of murder through simple hate crimes, along with confusing "trans" with "drag done tackily", I'd really like to know there's something more hopeful out there.

In case anyone is wondering, I probably wouldn't classify transsexuality as a disability, but gender dysphoria is a medical condition which causes acute suffering and social difficulties, and there is quite hefty medical treatment for it. So as these TV shows so often focus on the before-and-after stuff, I think it qualifies for discussion here.

Disabled characters in SFF novels
I watch for the scifi
I've just been musing on SFF, since that's usually what I retire to when I'm feeling unwell and in need of comfort reading :) I'm wondering if we could put together a list of instances of SFF featuring disabled characters, along with a general assessment of how well done they are.

For the purposes of discussion, let's include anything that's currently regarded as a disability and anything that, within the context of the novel, is considered as such.

Cut for lengthCollapse )

Since it came up
Beech leaves
Quick list of LGBT/disability crossovers in TV shows? Remember your spoiler warnings, unless it's obvious that the characters are both queer and disabled right from the start!

Angels in America - ok, this one's a miniseries, but here we have gay men and AIDS, and they're shown having actual relationships and all. I have a horrible feeling that the gay-man-with-AIDS theme crops up an awful lot in film, though probably not as well handled as here.

Boston Legal - Vaguely spoilerishCollapse )

Mod note: I've changed the colour scheme to improve the contrast. Is it OK now for everyone?

An Oblique Approach
LJ Profile Pic

I've just been reading the 'An Oblique Approach' sextet by David Drake and Eric Flint and disability crops up a few times, one of those instances being fundamental to the plot.

The novels are SF, but set in the Sixth Century AD using a core cast of historical characters, and revolve around two forces from the far future attempting to alter the way humans and human society will evolve by changing the past.

Spoilers....Collapse )

Extremely Late Avatar Review
LJ Profile Pic
sammason's  post reminded me that I had written something that's probably worth repeating here. I wasn't up to sitting through a film when Avatar was in the cinemas at the start of the year but I finally got to see the Special Edition at the start of September (though a 170 minute film didn't do much for my ability to walk by the end of it) and I couldn't help noticing a few things.

Possible SpoilersCollapse )


Log in