When Did It Stop Being “As Simple As That”?

The world is not made for human beings. In it’s natural state the world is not inclined to be “accessible” and “easy” for human existence. In it’s natural state human beings do not have a “right to life”.

But that’s okay. We don’t live in that world and haven’t for millennia.

You see the world we live in IS made for human beings. It is designed for us, by us, for us. We landscape, we chop down forests and woodland for growing food (or for making paper, or a thousand different reasons few of them as worthwhile as the trees), we have architecture and ergonomic design. We have roads and cars, we have planes, we have electricity and central heating. We have laptops and personal computers. We have e-mail, mail, phone and text. We have literally reshaped the world to fit us on numerous occasions, everything from indoor plumbing to ordering pizza online.

So when did it stop being “as simple as that”?

When did it, when it comes to dolling out money for facilities, roadworks, housing, making things accessible to everyone including the disabled become an issue?

Why is it the thought process on making things accessible for the disabled became a SEPARATE issue from making something usable at all? What’s so aesthetically pleasing, and usable, about stairs INTO buildings and in the middle of streets that ramps became unreasonable wastes of money? Where else is the money going? Why do people have to raise their own money to fix steps in the middle of the street through gorilla paving so that places became vaguely accessible to disabled people (in their family or otherwise)?

But lets say that the reason for the physical aspects relate to space, money and many different “reasonable” things in the minds that are behind such things. Lets start with something that would cost money anyway and so start with the minds of people.

Lets start say – with disabled characters being portrayed by disabled people?

Oh – wait… The Guardian already suggested that.

Only – immediately the comments had virtually NO ONE saying “gee – what a good idea, lets see about having disabled characters portrayed by people with disabilities” – oh no. The comments flared up and the majority have spoken. It would be impossible for disabled people to be portrayed by disabled actors. Because sometimes able-bodied, non-disabled people are just better at acting the part, because disabled people just wouldn’t be able to pull off a performance like Dustin Hoffman, because for most of the biopic on Stephen Hawking the character was able-bodied before his even first symptom of motor-neuron disease, because no one has “the right” to have their lives reflected and “the majority don’t” (except that they do get reflected even if it’s not a ‘right’), and that by calling for this all characters of murderers should be portrayed by genuinely convicted murderers or this means actors who are posh shouldn’t dare play characters on Eastenders, how dare gay actors portray straight characters it’s soooo unrealistic.

Because it’s not like the performance could have been shared between an able-bodied person for the able-bodied part of the story and a disabled person for the parts involving a disability.

Or it’s not like in stories where the character is disabled all the way through could possible be portrayed by a disabled person of similar or same disability. Or that having such a character would be anything other than politically correct tokenism. Heaven forbid that a disabled character exist NOT to teach the non-disabled characters an important life non-lesson.

People have stated that the companies depend upon bankability of the stars that they have which is why you have so many able-bodied people playing disabled characters. Which is a shame. Not only because it’s like the disabled form of blackface – but because there are plenty of disabled actors out there if you looked who could rack up similar bankability if they were given a chance.

Refusing to cast disabled people in disabled roles is like stating a better actor for Tyrion Lannister isn’t Peter Dinklage but Orlando Bloom. Or Elijah Wood because he managed to pull off a hobbit.

It’s ridiculous, ignorant, and over all – short sighted.

Yes – acting is make-believe, but asserting that all non-disabled actors are capable of playing a disabled role better than a disabled person is a fallacy based on incomplete data – you don’t KNOW all disabled actors to know this. When I did performing arts it was a class of 15, which had 4 people in the class with disabilities – One autistic who’d had a hip replacement, me, a 50 year old man with Downes syndrome who loved Elvis and dancing and a girl in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy (who also liked to dance). There were 3 people there for acting, and the rest were a large group of boys interested in becoming MCs and Rappers (which lead to issues whenever we did acting heavy work because they weren’t interested). There are roles out there than any one of us could have played – and played well.

Someone called this “Political Correctness gone mad.” Every month or so you will see one actor or writer or whatever bemoaning political correctness where they’re suddenly not supposed to say offensive things that disparage against one-minority type or another and how people seem to think that by being offended by something other people should care that they’re offended.

I think these people are missing the point. I dislike political correctness that doesn’t actually consult with the people of that minority (in their millions) to reach some sort of consensus first sure, and yes, people have the right through free speech to be offensive – doesn’t stop them being an asshole.

When, in a world that we make and shape to fit us every day, did it stop being as simple as that to include everyone? To include everyone and not complain that it was political correctness that shouldn’t happen? To include everyone and think it’s GOOD to include everyone?

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One response to “When Did It Stop Being “As Simple As That”?

  1. Pingback: Following the Threads of Access and Acceptance | Nature in the City

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