Let’s talk about disability in media, and about how sensationalizing members of a social class is not the same as representing them decently.
There’s this trend in media which basically tells its audience that disabled people are only worth something if they gain a superpower from it.
- Raymond Babbit from Rainman
- Duddits from Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher
- Professor Charles Xavier in Marvel Comics
- Sherlock Holmes (esp. in BBC Sherlock)
- Sheldon Cooper in “The Big Bang Theory”
- Barbara Gordon in the recently altered DCU
I am over disabled people being made special in order to appear in stories.
I want stories about disabled heroes, mind you, but I don’t want them to have some kind of power that other people don’t. Disability does not mean “give me something to make up for it”. Disability is not something to be made up for and that is exactly what current and past media has told us. It has said we are not worth looking at as humans, because either our problems are so great that our narrative function is to be an inspiration, or our problems don’t matter because we are too smart to talk to people.
And yes, super intelligence is a superpower. It is another way to make disabled people Not Like Everyone Else. Benevolent ableism is still ableism. Stratifying people is the exact opposite of normalizing them.
Disabled people are not all sensational; they are human and alive and they go to school and het drunk and make bad decisions and fall in love and have adventures and we try and we fail all—just like Your Regular Person.
Strange, isn’t it?