All the films focused on the negative side of disability as someone he cared very much about, portraying his character as naï¿½ve, used Forrest in Forrest Gump throughout the film. Raymond in Rain Man has been living for years in an institution as the family feared for his brothers safety when Raymond scolded him in the bath. The film then takes you on a journey were Raymond’s brother puts him in every situation that Raymond’s character is unfamiliar with creating a panicked portrayal of autism. Dustin Hoffman who plays Raymond becomes a life like Ken doll for his brother as though he has no thoughts or control over himself not a real life perspective of a person with autism.Every area of this film over exaggerates autism to become a freak like performance.
At the time this film was released society still knew very little about autism and still today many people still believe that people with autism have a special gift of some kind but have a disability that does not allow them to live for themselves. This film creates many barriers for people with autism that live normal everyday lives.Alan Stanbrook (1989) states ‘There is something distasteful about Hollywood’s pursuit of disabilities as a means of winning academy award’s take Rain Man. Am I alone, then, in finding it the most deplorable picture currently playing in Britain? The only Oscar I would award Dustin Hoffman would be for bad taste. It’s an exploitation movie in a long line of exploitation movies, in which physical and mental handicaps are milked for pecuniary gain.’Along for the ride is a film with a character named Lulu she parted from her loved one when she became unwell and began self harming, her then boyfriend played by Patrick Swayze puts her into an institution and then never returns it is only many years later that Lulu disappears from the institution and contacts Patrick to find a son that they had many years ago which he Knew nothing about. This film creates a character that is unpredictable and creates many issues for her loved one who is now married. Lulu is often aggressive and threatening however in the end shows that Lulu has conquered all when she finally begins a life outside of the institution.
Bubble boy focuses on a boy born with no immunities but develops them when he is four. His parents bring him home from the hospital but continue to raise him within a bubble that is germ free to keep him away from society. He eventually falls in love with a girl from next door who visits daily but loses her to another who can have a relationship. When he realises that she is to go off and marry he decides to venture out to tell her his true feelings. Throughout his journey he meets and affects the lives of many who feel this need to protect the boy that travels in a bubble suit. He even meets some physically disabled people on a train who he then finds out are owned by a disabled man known as Dr Phreak who has restricted growth. They travel around in a train as the circus of freaks.
But when bubble boy realises who he is, he decides that he won’t be known as a freak and nor will the rest of them any longer and frees them all. The character’s in this film are portrayed as having no life skills only circus as they don’t know what to do when they are set free by bubble boy, they then begin to call bubble boy the Doctor and promptly follow him when he tells them again they are free to do as they wish as he is off to get the love of his life. They begin to say that that is what they will do also. He has to tell them that he is to do this on his own and even then without him knowing they follow his trail. Dr Phreak is then left trying to find them to continue with his circus.On his travels he finds bubble boys parents and bubble boys mum treats him as though he is her little boy as he has limited growth.
He is even put into a baby’s highchair as they travel. Although many of the roles are played by people with disabilities these roles be-little them and continually use them in order to humour the audience. These characters roles were written to highlight the very negative views that cause the stigma’s within society. Eventually bubble boy gets the love of his life but not before risking his life to kiss her falling on the floor believing that he is dyeing before his mother tells him that he has been cured since he was four. Making his character naï¿½ve enough to think that he was dyeing when there was nothing wrong with him.The analyses of these films all perpetuate negative views of people with disabilities. It becomes clear from these films that the disabled character portrayals are written with belief that they are aggrandised but to many the end result is exotic.
Sharon Knolle (2004) states ‘There are two operative stereotypes in movies, the angry, bitter, villainous disabled person and the hero who overcomes adversity and there’s very little middle ground. The only time there is middle ground is when it’s being handled by very sensitive and intelligent writers who are either very aware of disabilities, like Waldo Salt was with coming home or they are disabled people themselves like Neal Jiminez the water dance. To this day, coming home and the water dance are probably the only two films that get being paraplegic right.’However the Media portray disability it is not something that will change anytime soon although it is up to us to begin to steer them in the right direction. As Whittington (2002) states ‘there is a link between the invisibility of people with disabilities in our society and the oppression they experience. Since the world of science and medicine took over the freak shows and the mainstream film industry created replacement images, performers with disabilities have virtually become invisible, while images of disability have been appropriated into negative stereotypes. However, people with disabilities remain commodities because as Charlton (1998) argues their disabling condition acquires an exchange value that a few people profit from.The mainstream film industry continues to manufacture disability representation from an analysis of deviance and stigma and has profited greatly from it.
‘ We as a society know that Denzel Washington could never play Elvis and Brad Pitt could never play Malcolm X. But until we as a society stand up to what is truly right, what is fair and is the right for all disabled people to be made equal the media will continue to profit from the stereotypes of under-represented groups and actors and actresses will continue to do what they do best and that is to imitate the role they are given.Reference:Bogdan, R. (1988) Freak show: presenting human oddities for amusement and profit. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Overboe, J. (1999) Body and Society. 4th ed., London: Sage Publication.Safran, S. (1998) The journal of special education.
4th ed., Ohio universityStanbrook, A. (1989) exploiting the disabled: The Times.
Whittington-Walsh. (2002) Disability and society. 6th ed., Carfax: Taylor & Fancis Ltd.