Who is Blind?

Filed Under (Autism and The Media, Critical Disability Studies) by Estee on 15-02-2009

I am catching up on my movies. After just finishing the movie Blindness, I feel disturbed at its depiction of blind people as totally incompetent, they are quarantined and incarcerated, as disabled people were not that long ago. Then, on About.com, I found this protest:

National Federation of the Blind Protests the Movie Blindness
Monday October 6, 2008

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announced its strong objections to the new Miramax film release Blindness, promising to protest at cinemas across the nation. The film, which opened on October 3rd, is based on a novel by author José Saramago, in which the people of city suddenly go blind as a result of a certain virus. Fearing that the mysterious blindness is contagious, the government quarantines the blinded citizens in an abandoned asylum.

The NFB claims that the film will do substantial harm to the blind. Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said “Blind people in this film are portrayed as incompetent, filthy, vicious, and depraved. They are unable to do even the simplest things like dressing, bathing, and finding the bathroom. The truth is that blind people regularly do all of the same things that sighted people do.”

I admit to listening carefully, perhaps sentimentally to the the last lines in the movie — the point where Danny Glover’s voice over comments at being afraid of losing the “intimacies” from being blind — the connection, the oxymoron of seeing more when blind. It’s spoken as if once sight returns, they will all put up some sort of guard yet again and cease to connect. It’s a quaint idea. The problem is, is that it is just another stereotype, just like autistic people are all “smart” and all blind people can “see deeper” into things by virtue of some sixth sense.

It is important to also note that not one actual blind person was in the movie. I guess we begin to SEE only when we recognize that all people are the same — no matter what their disability. “We are all perfect despite our imperfections,” I said in The Autism Acceptance Project video nearly three years ago now. “We are all the same despite our differences.” Yet, we are still so very blind to accepting this fact.

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About Me


ESTÉE KLAR

I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.