One of the things that drives me just a little bit up the wall about disability in pop culture is when creators want to have a disabled character, but don't want that character to have any of the actual consequences of being disabled. This plays out in one of two ways: Either the disability is just there, without any of the attending difficulties, or the disability has been turned into a Super Power. Sometimes, we get both.
I've never seen wheelchair-using Professor X have to actually deal with stairs. He uses his psychic powers to make his wheelchair float.
A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, has become a Christmas classic. Chances are high that most of us have read it, read adaptations, seen it performed on stage, or seen it on film. In some households, people make A Christmas Carol a family tradition, and it's supposed to be a feel-good, inspiring moral tale which brings the family together for the holidays.
Whenever someone starts talking about "crip-drag" - the slang term that basically means "currently non-disabled actor playing a disabled character" - the conversation tends to eventually (usually sooner, rather than later) turn to this:
But but but! We shouldn't accept a less-than-stellar actor just because they're disabled. That's, like, Affirmative Action GONE MAD!!!!!! No, you just have to accept that they always, totally, without fail, and without any influence by ablism or assumptions about what stories they can tell about disabilities, the casting directors chose the best person for the job. And it's just a wild coincidence that the best person for the job is almost always someone who doesn't have a disability.
Original Plumbing, a new magazine published and distributed out of San Francisco, is a fresh new publication dedicated to FTM sexuality and culture. Made for trans men by trans men, its first issue ("The Bedroom Issue") came out in October and features voices from five rooms and a couple different continents, with content ranging from interviews to fiction to a detailed summary of how Germany's health care system helps transitioning. They're off to a great start, and I asked editor-in-chief/photographer Amos Mac and assistant editor Rocco Kayiatos (who raps as Katastrophe) a few questions about future plans for ORIGINAL PLUMBING.
OK folks. You know how we feel about this year's Kay Jewelers ad and the holiday-themed pap smear PSAs, but which holiday ads are making you want to throw your remote/magazine/newspaper/laptop into an open fire this year? There's only one way to find out! It's time for OFFENSIVE COMMERCIALS: HOLIDAY SHOWDOWN!
I was one of those major theater nerds in high school; my nerd-dom, however, did not usually translate to reading many well-regarded Classics of Theater. I did not read Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie until college, and, looking back, I would have read it much earlier, had such a thing been possible. The Glass Menagerie, written in the early 1940s, is one of Williams' works that continues to get quite a bit of mileage out of the "faded Southern belle" archetype (if I may quote The Simpsons). It is notable also because of its depiction of disability in the character of young Laura Wingfield—who has a limp due to an adolescent bout of pleurisy. Though Laura, as a character, is problematic in some aspects, she is still worth a look because she does not totally conform to many dominant cultural narratives of disability.
"Wow, that is so inspiring!" "She has truly overcome her handicap." "You are so brave!"
Do any of these exclamations sound familiar? They might, if you are a person with a disability who has been on the receiving end of "good intentions" that mask an unfortunately pervasive Western trope about disability and people who live with disabilities: Supercrip.
Besides being Operations Director here at Bitch Media, I'm an activist on climate and globalization issues. So needless to say I'm a big fan of author and super-activist Naomi Klein, and have been closely following her dispatches from the UN climate mega-summit in Copenhagen, which has been miserably failing at coming up with a just and scientifically viable post-Kyoto agreement.
I thought I'd share this illuminating (if laryngitis stricken) interview she and french journalist Jade Lindgaard had this morning with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! where she discusses the US position and Hilary Clinton's statement's at the conference this morning.
Poster 4 Tomorrow is a project based out of France that was founded this year to encourage artists to advocate "on behalf of those who don't enjoy the same freedom of expression that you do" by designing posters that pronounce an explicitly political sentiment regarding the universal right to free speech. Right away this struck me as problematic. In order to truly work from a praxis of liberation, one must struggle with not for those who are oppressed, as speaking for the oppressed simply reifies their dehumanization (and by extension one's own) and contributes to the oppressed persons' being prevented from having an autonomous public voice. Replacing one master with another (albeit one who seems well-intended) is not a solution.