The Portrayal Of People With Disabilities Essay

1589 Words Dec 12th, 2016 7 Pages
The film industry produces popular representations of a variety of social and cultural experiences that reach large audiences. In certain films, these representations are negative and have the power to misrepresent a group of people. Throughout the history of film, the portrayal of people with disabilities has included narratives that do not necessarily reflect the diverse experience of disability. These narratives are constructed around reductive images that exist to serve the film’s purpose rather than portraying the experience of disability. For that matter, representations of people with disabilities are often displayed in contrast to the ‘normal’ bodies in the film. This paper explores representations in the films Freaks (1932), The Elephant Man (1980), and The Theory of Everything (2014) to show how these films depict dis/abilty as reflected in the recurring narrative and representational devices of fear, pity, and admiration, which, in turn, reveal certain assumptions regarding the film’s representation of normalcy. As such, I will argue that the film representations under investigation represent a binary built around the projection of the disabled body as devalued and the normal body as ideal. I organized my paper as follows. First I provide an explanation of my theoretical model built around the concept of the problem body and contrasted the definition of the ideal body type. Then, I analyze the films over a chronological period of time to show how these…

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