One day sometime last month I was apart of a chat on Twitter. I forget what the subject was about but towards the end of it I remember a conversation that Dee, Sara, Michelle and myself had and it was kind of strange to voice my opinion about it. It consist of two people in wheelchairs like me and one able-bodied person in the chat. It was how we all feel about disabled people in the entertainment industry. Of course, our views were different. I’ve never really came out about how I fee about a person in a wheelchair or who was an amputee as an actor or singer. I thought I’d roll over (step on) a few toes in the process. I felt bad for Dee as she was tagged in our multiple tweets between each other and I figured by the end of it, her head must’ve been spinning! A couple of weeks later, Michelle had done a post about her views on whether or not using a person with the real disability as the person to act out the character. You can read her post here.
My views vary in both areas.
I’ve never understood why they’ve never equalled out and still don’t. I don’t normally watch any movies that has a story line that has a disabled person in it. Luckily in a way, the amount of films in the world that do have handicapped characters are pretty low. Two movies that stand out in my mind are Soul Surfer and Dolphin Tale. Now with the Dolphin Tale, it is the real dolphin playing herself. She really is missing her tail fin and she does use a prosthetic fin to help her swim. There is a character in the film, actor Austin Stonewall, who plays Kyle and he goes from normal, walking with both legs and then towards the middle of the film the story line changes for his character and he gets hurt while fighting on the battlefield and loses his leg. Morgan Freeman’s character is in the process of making him a prosthetic leg before main character Sawyer figures out that he can make Winter a prosthetic fin. In the film, Soul Surfer, Bethany Hamilton is attacked by a shark on her surf board, she does lose her right arm, but actress AnnaSophia Robb plays the character Bethany in the movie. Both Austin and AnnaSophia are not amputee actors. Why couldn’t cast directors, writers, producers, whatever chose to use an able-bodied over an amputated actor or actress instead?
Something that I have talked about before, is the over use of technology. I’ve said that I am not a fan of the Exoskeleton. I don’t understand that something that is supposed to help a person walk like before they were in a accident, costs just as much as any medical bill a person gets after their accident. As a person that uses a wheelchair, I’m perfectly fine with myself being confided to my chair. It is my way of being mobilized. You may have your views on that and that is fine. Back to the issue. I think the reason why more able-bodied actors and actresses get cast in these movies and television shows is because maybe the technology to do these wild and exciting effects is less expensive. I mean, I could see a person with any kind of disability getting severely hurt and end up suing the production company and whatever else. So I can understand why erasing a limb with technology would be a better solution. Again, these are just my thoughts on the subject.
Now in the music world, it’s a little different. Whereas I’m for the situation of using more disabled actors and actress in the entertainment business. Musically, I’m definitely against it. However, I feel like I’m against it for the wrong reasons. I feel the best way for anyone with a disability to come out and sing, is to have them perform the beginning of their song in the darkness and everybody wasn’t facing the performer at first. After a minute, everybody turns around and the lights turn on. Everybody has already heard the person sing the song for a minute so they only judge the artist’s voice not by he/she’s looks. However, you can’t be on The Voice all the time. Even in the audition process of that, people still need to see your face. I feel like once you sing out in public with a disability, you get a different reaction than most performers.
The audience looks at you in a different way, they see you in an inspirational/sympathetic way.They’re not necessarily listening to the message or beat of the song, they’re looking straight at you and wondering all sorts of questions. This happens whether or not you are a singer or playing an instrument. I find singer Viktoria Modesta very brave for taking charge in trying to change how the world thinks about how people should look at music. She is an amputee model and singer. When I watched her music video, I liked the song, it was catchy, but I also wondered how long it would last too. I feel like in a way though, if she hadn’t made the music video or posted any pictures of herself with her prosthetic leg then maybe the outcome would have been bigger for her? That still doesn’t answer my question up above though, how long would she last? I also feel like the hate would be worse, because say you’re a singer (female) in a rock band and you’re in a wheelchair too. Most hardcore rock and heavy metal listeners, they don’t like female singers fronting a band and can you imagine the added pressure and hate when those listeners find out you’re handicapped as well. To me, it wouldn’t end well.
What are your thoughts on using more disabled actors in movies and on TV? Plus, what would you think about somebody with a physical disability as a big time singer?