Solingen 93

Domestic Violence and Abuse

The Changing Depiction of Disabilities in the Media


[Instrumental music] We’re at a very interesting time in our
history and in our culture regarding the depictions of people with disabilities
in the media and this would include television, this would include movies, this
would include audio and radio. We’re seeing more and more efforts like the
one that you’re doing where it’s not someone else speaking on behalf of the person with a
disability. You don’t have the teachers or the preachers or the social workers
sort of pushing the agenda, but more and more there are opportunities, whether it’s
via the internet, YouTube, Facebook for people to blog to put their own stories
out there. And so I think what that, what’s happening now is we’re seeing a
change in the types of stories that are being told. It use to be the disabled
person on the outside of society. It was always monochrome in terms of them
either being tragic or heroic. Anybody who’s lived a little while knows that
life is more complex than that. It’s more complicated than that. There’s a lot more
color in the spectrum, but sadly up until probably the last 10, 15 years, with
very rare occasions, we didn’t get a chance to see that. I think with more
disabled people being creative behind the scenes, whether it’s writing,
producing, directing, acting, whatever those efforts might be in terms of
telling those stories. The stories that we’re hearing, the stories that are
coming out now, and this is something relatively new in the last five years or
so, really I’ve seen that kind of catapult forward. We’re seeing more
complexity in those stories, more depth in those stories, more authenticity in
those stories and as a result, they’ve become less lazy; and they’ve become
more interesting because the nuances are all there in ways that we really haven’t
seen before. There are numerous driving forces behind that happening. I think
right now at our point in time in in the culture, part of it is
technology. You can’t deny it, you know, five, six years ago there was no YouTube. You
couldn’t just take a video on your phone and put it up there for anybody to see.
You can do that now. If you do it with some creativity, with some panache with, with some sort of a little different spin, like coming at it from left field or from right field, you can get some traction. You can get some attention. People are no
longer limited to the let’s say television networks, you
know, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS. They can produce a web short, a web series that’s 10, 15
minute episodes on their own. Boom! It goes on there, they get a following.
They can get funding to actually do the real thing, whether it’s a short film or
whether it’s a feature length. So people now, the blockades have come down.
The gatekeepers no longer have the same types of power. If you’ve got ways to
to, to put something creative together because of things like Facebook because
of, of ways for people to connect and come together that can push that
material forward give people an opportunity to see it and more and more
we know that people are hungry for that. They’re tired of the same old same old
tragic heroic story. They wanna see more complexity. They want to see themselves
represented. And I think we’ve got more and more opportunities not only to
create it and produce it and put it out there, but we’re seeing more and more
people writing for themselves, directing for themselves, producing for
themselves. They’re not anymore relegated to saying you do this for me or trying
to put forth that effort. No, they’re taking it into, they’re taking responsibility for themselves and creating it themselves, and that is making all the difference.

Cesar Sullivan

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