Lisy's Thoughts on Disability in Film & TV

Spectacular displays of ignorance in the comments. 2 types really:

Type 1) But the disableds are so expensive!!!1111!
Type 2) “It’s called acting!!!111!”

Alright then: If it’s all just acting; why don’t we regress to blacking up? Hey, why don’t we regress even further and not allow women to perform and insist that all female roles are played by men?

Yesterday I saw a casting call insisting that the man “must have beard”. Sticking a false beard on someone beardless is a lot cheaper than the CGI to make a limb disappear. But apparently it’s OK for Hollywood to demand organic beards; but impairments must be faked; to hell with the costs.

I know, you should never read the comments on any half-decent article because BTL is almost always a septic tank full of wankers. But on this occasion they actually seem to encapsulate pretty well the opinions of the whole of Hollywood.

These were my 2 comments in reply to moans of “The disableds are so expensive”

What on earth are you talking about? In my years as a stand-up (yes, yes, wheelchair-using stand-up, ha ha) I never cost any promoter a penny more.


What on earth are you on about? For McGorry’s character in OITNB it’d be *cheaper* to have cast an actor with an amputation because they wouldn’t need the prosthetics to make it look like he’s got a falsie! He’d come with his own, ready to go, prosthetic leg.

The short film Gregory Goes Boom starring Michael Cera had such a tight budget that they struggled to find the funds to hire a wheelchair for the shoot. If they’d cast a wheelchair-using actor, he’d have come with wheels included.

And you do know that wheelchairs, um, have wheels, right? A wheelchair using actor can move from one location to another by, well, wheeling.


(She had a bug up her arse about how difficult it is to move a “wheelchair bound” actor from one location to another. If our chairs didn’t have wheels which allow us to move from one place to another, they’d be pretty fucking useless.)


This article seems to suggest that 30% of supporting and background (not main) characters must be not cis, het, white, middle to upper class, non-disabled men. (I haven’t got the brainpower to read the full rules).

So, theoretically, as long as 30% of the background characters are women; they’re good to go.

It also suggests that it just has to be characters; not actors. So a film like The Full Monty would be fine; despite the cast being mostly socially privileged men, because all the characters were from a socially disadvantaged background.

It also suggests that a film along the lines of the Irish pile of shite Inside I’m Dancing could get made under these rules because - never mind the supporting and background characters - the main characters were disabled. Despite the leads being played by non-disabled actors.

The Guardian article says that crew members must actually be from minority or socially disadvantaged groups, but not on screen talent. Just the characters. Which will do nothing to change the lack of disabled people in film, the fact that acting is increasingly becoming a career only available to the upper classes, and the lack of opportunities for transgender actors. “Transgender” isn’t even on the list of characteristics that 30% of the background characters must be. (Again, “gender” diversity is listed for crew requirements. But the only gender specification for background/supporting characters is “women”.)

Maybe the rules are fairer than the Guardian article implies. I’ll let you know if my cheekbones stop feeling like they’re going to explode for long enough for me to read something that lengthy.
It’s a start; but a target to quadruple on-air representation and portrayal from 1.2% to 5% is still pretty pathetic from a public service broadcaster when 18% of the UK population are disabled.

It must be about 20 years since I last saw an episode of Emmerdale: I didn’t even know they had a character with Down’s. What a tragedy for his family and his colleagues.

Well that’s unusual: A very visibly disabled person deemed one of the most sexy celebrities.

Now; if only PETA would drop the “but OMG you must go vegan because otherwise YOU MIGHT CATCH AUTISM!!11!” crap.

As long-running American comic Archie announces the introduction of a new disabled character, Ouch look at how disability is portrayed in comics.

TV sitcoms of the 1980s were often about teaching viewers a lesson. Sometimes subtly, usually overtly. Whether the message was moral or ethical in nature, the gist was one of acceptance: body image, race, sexuality, ability. And The Facts of Life, the longest-running sitcom of the decade, covered them all, breaking new TV ground for taboo and uncomfortable topics.

Like having cerebral palsy and cracking jokes about it.