I have been wanting to write about this topic for a while.. I think it is a very controversial subject to discuss among the disabled community considering they are the ones who inspired me to even bring it up on my blog today.
I have been a lover of films since I was a little girl. I don’t think I’d ever become an actress because I’m not good at accents. However, if you were to ask any of my family members they would tell you I’m very animated and have a great sense of humor, but this isn’t about me per se.
My love of movies goes back a ways, like to when I was seven years old watching Michael Bay’s Bad Boys with my mother. I just saw the humor and all of the action sequences that I wasn’t really interested in anything else. It wasn’t until probably the early 2000’s that I actually remember watching a film and wanting to know basically everything about the story, characters, and the actors that were making these people come to life.
Growing up, I didn’t have too many disabled role models, at that time, I didn’t even know that many people or kids with other disabilities! I do remember the first time I was introduced to a disabled character though, it was 2003’s Daredevil the character Matt Murdock was played by Ben Affleck and as much as I loved him for that role, I was completely unfazed by the fact there was an able-bodied actor playing a blind man.
Prior to watching Daredevil, the whole superhero phase was in its infancy for me. It either happened while we were home for a week while I was recovering from my second surgery or after I was officially released from the hospital that my dad bought the X2 and I discovered Wolverine and I figured out that if he had metal in his body, that maybe I was a wolverine too! This was the start of why I love superheros so much! As other disabled and able-bodied people alike think that they promote ablism I have to disagree, I look at them and their stories as motivation for my own!
Let’s move on to recent films, because there have been a couple of films have been released almost back-to-back from each other. We have the adaption of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars in 2014 and JoJo Moyes’s Me Before You in 2016. I remember seeing the trailers for both of the movies just before they were to be released in theaters and I was more curious about the story itself than I was about the disability theme that both had discussed; you have in TFIOS where both characters have dealt with cancer and then Gus losing his leg through his battle with it. Whereas in MBY you have the lone character who is paralyzed from the neck down and is very suicidal and you have people who are trying everything they can to change his mind about ending his life again.
I had decided to read the The Fault In Our Stars after my sister bought it on my Kindle. If she hadn’t done that, I probably would have watched the movie without even considering it. After I watched the movie I was still in love with the characters and their friendship with one another. I wasn’t following a lot of the online disability community as much as I do now, so I don’t really remember what they thought of both Shailene Woodley and especially Ansel Elgort, who plays the character with an amputee but I know they probably wouldn’t have given him any mercy. The reason why I say that is because when Me Before You came out earlier this year, the whole community erupted!
It seemed they were more upset with Emilia Clarke who plays “Lou” who takes care of Will (as played by Sam Claflin) who is paralyzed and in a wheelchair. I do remember trying to keep my mouth shut throughout both times this movie came out and I agree with some of the reasons.
I am over the fact that everytime we have a disability related film out, it’s over the lines of pity and sympathic to the people who are dealing with these conditions. People are stereotyping who we are and that isn’t fair to us, however I’m not exactly for the whole thing of bashing the actors who are playing these people. We don’t know how we got these roles. I often wonder if they were sought out by the casting directors and if that’s the case, that’s who everybody should have directed their anger towards when the film came out.
The last film I want to discuss is the 2014’s The Theory Of Everything the story about Stephan Hawking and this was the movie that made me think about what I preferred to seeing for these movies. I’ll explain more about that in a minute. I watched this knowing all about Dr. Hawking, but nothing about how he was before he was diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1963. I thought Eddie Redmayne was a brilliant choice to bring this person to life for younger generations to understand, because I know of Stephan Hawking as the physics dude from many talks about relativity and quantum theory thanks to my papaw! This movie was the reason why I wanted to read Me Before You before watching the movie because I wanted to see how Will is potrayed in the beginning of the book. Eddie is only a good choice because they show Stephan as a normal, “abled” person that Stephan was before he had the condition.
So what is the point to acting? I don’t even know if I really answered that question above. Just so everyone realizes, I do have strong feelings about actors that play disabled characters, whether they’re fictional or real people. However, I try to keep an open mind and sometimes it doesn’t bother me which was the real reason for this post, but there some shows that aren’t so lucky. I believe I have tried to explain my reasons for seeing the positive in the superhero or disability themed films despite the fact that there isn’t a single handicapped actor for these roles but as I thought about it I think we would have harder time accepting if they used CGI on a disabled actor if that role required them to be this normal person, so we have nothing to really complain about because it wouldn’t work out well anyway!
So what do you think of my theory? I want your honest opinions, but please respect that these are my feelings too!