Ew on Film

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

speechless thoughtless

merely aware

together

in a blinding morning haze

at the dawn of an unnamable world

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

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