On recent Disability After Dark, “Me Before Ew,” Andrew Gurza dissects – no, he vivisects, the film “Me Before You” – disclaimer I have not seen this movie & after his comments have interest in seeing it. I love his relentless no-holds-barred evisceration of this supposedly feel-good movie. It falls into the category of the noble self-sacrificing (fill in the blank: disabled person, homosexual, manic depressive) who opts for death rather than burden the one they love with having to deal with life with a hopeless (fill in the blank).
This trope shows up time & time again in film, tv & literature. I’ve been watching the boxset ‘Pioneers of African-American Cinema’ & so far at least two of the films the plot turns on the darker of the love-birds leaving their true love because they don’t want to burden them with the shame of having such a black partner. The noble self-sacrifice.
Andrew felt that the emotional or physical nature of disability wasn’t accurately explored. It sounded to me that in was merely a device to allow, in this case, the female to demonstrate that maternal loving sees beyond all limits – in particular when the object is rich & good-looking. Making them attractive, but not pretty, allowed it all to be palatable for audiences.
The podcast led me to think of how disability has been depicted or exploited by film & literature. One that comes to mind is A Christmas Carol & the manipulative use of Tiny Tim to break our hearts. There is nothing in the story, or any of the film versions, that gives a real look at Victorian attitudes to ‘mobility issues’ other than what a pity & how brave Tim is. The streets of London were littered with men disabled in wars who were reduced to abject poverty, locked up so the ‘good’ folks wouldn’t have to actually see them. The other Dickens character that come to mind in the hideous dwarf hunchback Mr. Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop.
(A side note: the major Victoria manufacturer of artificial limbs was the railway because so many trains men lost limbs in their work.)
Speaking of hunchbacks there is Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. Much of the novel deals with the street life of the disabled in Paris that provided for many of them a safe haven where there weren’t ridiculed or shunned. At least some of these characters are given a context other than being the mere plot device that Tiny Tim is.
I had originally intended to call this ‘Crips on Film’ & Andrew gave me his seal of approval to do so but … as much as I want to see the word reclaimed I think it’s best for me to leave that to Andrew who is doing an amazing job on that score without my help.
To be continued – coming next week Baby Jane.
Adam in the Morning
o that I were Adam each morning
given the privilege of naming
finding a word for each of the ways
I discover to love
o that I were Adam with no memory
no libraries describing things beyond
this moment’s opportunity to experience
a man with no past
with only the future of love to anticipate
to surrender to
to roll in the sweet earth of
looking for another rib
looking a new object to utter
to pretend word equals understanding
when it’s only bare comprehension
o that I were Adam
with no mate only himself
only his own body to discover
to give name to each of the sensations
from head to toe
with no name for head or toe
only the awe and delight
in reaching out to touch to savour
to sing those words
with no merciless weight of taboo or totem
no referential wink and nod to the wise
o that I were Adam
given the privilege of creating love
discovering your body for the first time
each time we meet
having only the sensation of fingers
no time to speak
enraptured by the invention of next
by the tremble of how long will this last
before we are flooded by names
o that we were Adam
in a blinding morning haze
at the dawn of an unnamable world
HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam
April 03 – every Tuesday
June 8-9 – Capturing Fire 2018 – Washington D.C. (flight & hotel already booked)