This is one of those films that, if it didn’t have an impairment theme, no-one would give a fuck. It wasn’t bad, but it would never have been nominated for a million awards if it weren’t ultimately about non-disabled actors pretending to have an impairment for the purposes of winning an award.
I’d read people who live with mental ill health claiming that “it’s the most realistic depiction of mental illness they’d seen.”
I’m in no position to judge what any other person deems “realistic” because I don’t live inside their head. Of course there will be people for whom Pat’s experiences ring true. But statistically speaking, they are in a minority of mentally ill people.
The event that kickstarts the movie is Pat getting released from hospital. The reason he was sentenced to hospital was because he beat a colleague almost to death for having shower sex with his wife. In real life a person with mental illness is 14 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a perpetrator. So Pat’s story is only representative of a small percentage of people’s experiences.
What really struck me was that Pat and Tiffany found relief from their symptoms by diving in to a creative project. On one level it’s absolutely no different from me finding that swimming eases my joint pain.
But on the other hand it just made me go “huh?” A lot. I’m trying to pull off an artsy project at the moment and I swear it’s going to cause me a nervous breakdown. I’m spending a significant chunk of each day rocking back and forth asking “why aren’t they Emailing me back?” And most of the rest of the day telling myself “this is shit. That’s why no-one’s Emailing you back. You’re an idiot and your idea stinks. Of course no-one’s replying.”
Disability in film: Are attitudes changing? -
We are now amused to recollect that, in Elizabethan theatre, all the female roles were played by boys and we cringe to recall that white actors once routinely blacked up. After the true watershed for depictions of disability in film, we will, I hope, question why any disabled character is ever played by an able-bodied actor.
xoJane: A Paralympic Track Star Is Accused of Killing Girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and the Jokes are Hilarious -
A woman died, and people were making it into joke fodder. Intimate partner violence actually isn’t funny at all; the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that 30% of female homicide victims between 1976 and 2005 were women involved in domestic violence cases. In 2007, 14% of homicides were committed by intimate partners, and most involved women killed by men. Domestic violence escalates to murder, with most intimate partner murders being preceded by a history of violence. Domestic violence kills, and Steenkamp was actually an outspoken advocate about domestic violence issues.
You can see some of her comments about domestic violence, including a heartbreaking one about waking up in a “safe” home, on her Twitter feed.
(I just tweeted this over a series of 3 tweets to a friends on the subject of Judy Blume, and thought it was worth repeating here.)
Loved her till I read Deenie. Was then horrified by a character who was disgusted by “looking disabled”. Looking like me…
I now realise it follows her journey to self-acceptance. But aged less than 11 I was appalled by the hatred around “looking disabled”. It hurt that looking like me was considered so terrible.
This is a show that - from the title - could have been either brilliant or horrifically exploitative and cruel. Luckily it turns out it’s the former.
It’s based on My Mad Fat Teenage Diary which I haven’t read, but I understand the show is quite different. For starters I gather that the real Rae was hospitalised in the 80s, but the TV show is set in 1996.
I’m a year older than Rae of the telly version. She’s 16 in the summer of 1996, I was 16 in the summer of 1995. But it’s still close enough for me to feel like I get it exactly. It so reminds me of what it was like to be 16 in the mid-nineties, wishing you were thin enough to be considered attractive, people considering you as “one of the boys”, and most crucially: Trying to make friends and keep it a secret that you’re mental. A secret that I was actually pretty rubbish at keeping: Few pints down and I’d always burst into tears.
Of course the televised Rae is far more successful at making friends and having a thriving social life than I ever was. I was in this odd situation that I frequently went out for drinks during the week, but Friday and Saturday nights I was always home alone. At the weekends people wanted to party with their real friends, but on a weeknight people would have a pint or 2 with their tertiary friends, which was all I ever managed to be to anyone. So no-one ever took me to raves or offered me tickets to Oasis concerts. In fact I was 21 the first time I went to a proper music concert. (My uncle’s country band playing in the clubhouse of my local football team doesn’t count as a “proper concert”.)
So it’s a great story, but by far the best thing is the music. They play A Letter to Elise and suddenly I’m back in Cambridge buying Wish on tape in HMV. (I didn’t get my first CD player until Xmas ‘94, it came out in ‘92). I sit there watching it with the notepad app open on my phone jotting down songs/albums that I must check to see if I’ve ripped to iTunes, and if not I must dig out the CD.
All this wonderfulness and seeing Rae as a slightly cooler version of a young me made last night’s episode really disappointing. I’d never release an aviary full of birds that have lived their whole lives in captivity and expect them to not have been shredded by predators by morning. And as much as I wanted to fit in with the cool kids I’d never have stood up someone even more mental than me who desperately needed me just so I could go to a rave with the popular people.
Christ I did some stupid, ignorant stuff that turned out to upset other people when I really didn’t mean it to. I said things that I didn’t intend to be mean in the slightest, but when the person I said it to repeated it back to me I realised how dismissive or rude I sounded. So I know how easy it is to accidentally be mean when you’re trying to navigate through being a teenage fuckup. But killing an aviary full of birds and ditching someone whose life may be endangered by you doing so? I would never have done that. And taking last night’s episode down that route made me feel rather robbed of a character in whom I could see a young me. And Christ, with teen telly characters mostly being skinny unimpaired people; there’s really not many characters I can look at and think “God they’re so much like I was.”
Ricky Gervais sitcom Life's Too Short scaled back -
Given that Life’s Too Short S2 has been cut back from a series to just 1 episode they should call it Life’s Shorter Than Expected.
(This is what happens when I attempt humour while caffeine deprived.)
Review of 'enjoyable' Ricky Gervais comedy Derek
Derek: self-indulgence, saccharine and disability -
And as I recounted in my previous post about Derek, I have had a group of kids shouting “Oi, Derek!” at me in the street.
Ricky Gervais' Derek may be clumsy but he’s not cruel