e d g e - education for disability and gender equity

CULTURE
CONTENTS

1
Introduction
2
Stereotyping
3
Disability in Media
4
Disability & Art
5
Charity Images
6
Telethons
7
News Media
8
Disability Culture
 
9
ACTIVITY
10
RESOURCES
   
3. DISABILITY in MEDIA

People with disabilities are another group in society who have been profoundly impacted by the media, both for good and for ill. In the mass media, people with disabilities are often rendered invisible, leading to the mistaken belief that such people do not exist, or are insignificant in society. (In the last exercise, when you looked at magazine advertisements featuring women, did you see any women with disabilities?)

Ironically, however, authors, artists, and members of the public have long been fascinated by the subject of disability. Because disabling conditions are so widespread, and can affect any family at any time, everyone has a stake in trying to comprehend what it means to live with a disability. People look to *cultural products* for information, understanding, and interpretation of the disability experience.

Media representations may offer accurate information and truthful insights or, just as likely, they may put forth myths, distortions, or outright falsehoods. As with other groups, people with disabilities may be presented as stereotypes.

What stereotyped notions about people with disabilities have you seen or heard? Have you seen these movie characters?

  • Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) in Forrest Gump
  • Arliss Loveless (played by Kenneth Branagh) in Wild Wild West
  • Jerome (played by Jude Law) in Gattaca
  • Quasimodo (voiced by Tom Hulce) in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Evil Scientist (voiced by William Hickey) in Tim Burton's The Nightmare before Christmas
  • Hank/Charlie (played by Jim Carrey) in Me, Myself & Irene
Tom Hanks seated on bench
Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump"
Kenneth Branagh seated in steam-driven wheelchair
Kenneth Branagh in "Wild Wild West"
Cartoon cliip of Hunchback with gargoyles
Hunchback of Notre Dame
From Disney cartoon

Poster for the movie, "Me, Myself and Irene"
Jim Carrey in Me, Myself & Irene

These characters represent some of the more common media stereotypes about people with disabilities. Can you describe some disability stereotypes, using these characters as examples?

(Next - Section 4: Disability & Art)


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