Lisy's Thoughts on Disability in Film & TV

I talk about Ironside and Glee in this for a few seconds.

Watching this. It’s interesting. Adam and Kristina are generally so honest with Max. So it was disappointing that when he outright asked “why do the other kids hate me?” That they didn’t answer honestly “because they’re disablist.” (Ack, I know in American English they use the word “ableist”.)

Growing up I felt like it was my body’s fault that everyone hated me. I didn’t understand that it was because our society is riddled with prejudice; because no-one told me. Learning about disablism and the social model made me realise that I was not the problem. Yes it’s bleak to explain prejudice to a child, but if you don’t explain it, there’s the chance that they might end up feeling that their body/brain is the problem.


This show had a character appear in flashbacks in season 1 with all limbs in tact.

In season 2 she returns, minus an arm. She is played by an actor with all 4 limbs.

From a purely technical perspective; wouldn’t it be easier to put a prosthetic arm on an amputee in season one, than have to use expensive special effects to make an arm disappear in season 2?

The obsession with casting non-disabled actors to play disabled characters can create more problems than if they just used common sense.

About to dive into Ironside seeing as it started in the UK a couple of weeks ago. Doing related reading.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: End of the Beginning

Jesus. Not every disabled person is a supervillain. Or supervillain’s henchman/sidekick/patsy.

OK, so Mike Peterson is in a kill or be killed situation. I’d choose be killed.

Glee: New New York

Contains a scene which is essentially an instruction guide on “how to mug a wheelchair user.”

Thanks for teaching that to budding muggers everywhere, Ryan Murphy.

Disabled characters are written into stories for one reason: the disability. Do most people actually believe real disabled people spend our days obsessing about being cured? Or rhapsodizing about killing ourselves? Here is the truth: Disabled people barely ever even think about our disabilities. When we do think about them, it’s usually because we are dealing with an oppressive, systemic problem, such as employment discrimination. Can’t there ever be a disabled character in a book or film just because? Where the topic doesn’t ever come up? All sorts of interesting stories can be written about a disabled character, without the disability ever being mentioned. You know, just like real people.

The vast majority of writers who have used disabled characters in their work are not people with disabilities themselves. Because disabled people have been peripheral for centuries, we’ve been shut out of the artistic process since the beginning. As a result, the disabled characters we’re presented with usually fit one or more of the following stereotypes: Victim, Villain, Inspiration, Monster. And the disabled character’s storyline is generally resolved in one of a few ways: Cure, Death, Institutionalization.

Susan Nussbaum, Disabled Characters in Fiction (via kassapti)

Finally Grey’s Anatomy looking at the perks of having an impairment:

"I think you broke my leg! It’s OK, I have another one in the car."