Dentist Haze Videos and Meltdown Videos: Yes, They are Related

There is a trend of videos, that, to put it bluntly, just angers me. I heard of gymnast Simone Biles being filmed while still being affected by the anesthesia after the dentist. Sure, it was funny, but it was funny in a way that laughing at an autistic person in meltdown mode is funny. It’s humor for bullies and haters. Why do people do that?  

Trust me; I come from a place of familiarity and some guilt on this one. I used to laugh at drunk people’s foibles on videos. Fortunately, I realized that most people who are drunk are not in their right mind. Yeah, acting not normal is funny, but if laughing at people in distress is your thing, that is sad in itself. And that is the trouble: laughing at people who are drunk, laughing at people who are affected by dentist haze, and laughing at autistic people in meltdown is as cruel as throwing water on a drowning man. 

Speaking of a drowning man, you remember the teens who laughed while filming a drowning man? He died. Due to their laughter and not helping him, his blood is on their hands. You who laugh at people in distress, you are no better.  

Autism Reality Show: A Reality Show No One Wants, But One We Need 

I Just read an article about a TV show concerning an autistic character. According to the review, it is simply the same “Experts because they know someone autistic” who gets a LOT of autism wrong. The show has not even come out on Netflix yet, and I’m disappointed. Maybe it could apply to one autistic character or person, but not a great majority. See, there is autism in all races, cultures, genders and sexualities.

I somehow think that the best interpretation of autism on TV is one which groups several autistic people together, of different ages, races and genders, and simply follows them around. You know, an autism reality show. No inspiration porn, no neurotypical censorship, no getting autistics wrong. Just autistic people, navigating a world that is not for them. But I think nobody will take it. Neurotypicals like to get autistic people and put them in a little box. Trouble is, if you don’t fit in this little box, you’re not autistic. Even professionals withhold help because women and people of color, and successful people too, do not fit into this little box. They withhold help in the form of refusing to diagnose autistic people with their autism. This is why we need an autism reality show in the form I described.

Besides, if you were a bird who could fly, would you rather not learn how to fly from a bird?

May the Fourth Be With You

My Star wars fascination started early. That might seem weird considering that I was born after the first movie came out (July 17; the movie came out May 25), but it gripped the nation like no other movie had before. It was unlike anything people had previously seen. I mean, most of the actors involved were absolutely sure it would be a flop, that’s how unprecedented it was. Of course, nobody would give George Lucas his due until after the movie came out. Sometimes, you have to bop somebody on the head before they actually get something sometimes. But, on to me.

When I finally had a good look at the movie, there were some great things that the sci-fi overwhelmed. Let’s see; there’s a princess who aids in her own rescue, a sword fight in which the villain strikes down the hero; an antihero who was kind of sexy (hey, I was a kid!), and robots with personalities. Had anyone done a robot with a personality before? That was amazing. (I’m not sure HAL 3000 counts.)

Of course, there are drawbacks. Let’s start with Stormtroopers that miss their targets; not-great dialogue, and almost completely illogical transport vehicles. (Ever heard of the wheel, Star Wars engineers?)

I’ll admit it; I’m a slight geek. But how could you not be some level of geek when science fiction and fairytale elements collide, and it’s so well done? Yeah, George Lucas seemed a little tone deaf when it comes to relationships, but a little coaching could have improved that. The movie, and subsequent movies to follow, are amazing.

April Post 11: Autism Portrayals in Media 

Much of the Autism Awareness talk has died down by now. Even the store displays are showing the leftovers from puzzle piece junk, like keychains and stuff.  

I’ve decided to talk about an issue that seems to plague the portrayals of autistic people in the media. The fact is, nobody is listening to anybody else about how people really are. I know for a fact that it plagues all portrayals, but I am focusing on autism here. I have struggled to find a similar portrayal that falls far short – and needs somebody to explain to these people how – and I found it in Japanese Engrish.  

I’m only giving you this link to the site because it is very offensive, not only to English speakers, but it makes the Japanese look like morons, just because they don’t know the ins and outs that native English speakers do. Now, it’s kind of like this Japanese Engrish unlearnedness that plagues portrayals of autism in the media. Many of us autistic people find most portrayals offensive. So far, the best portrayal I can find is Billy Cranston in the new Power Rangers movie. Otherwise, even little Julia from Sesame Street has some traits that offend autistic people. This comes from people not listening to those of us with autism. 

Now, tell me: would you rather have a portrayal of autism that is accurate and tasteful, or an autism portrayal that is like Japanese Engrish?

April Post 2: Calming Down 

I must admit, that last post was mostly reactionary. It’s terrifying to know you’re the worst-case scenario for a lot of people. Well, maybe they don’t quite know about me. I don’t want to be all hate and vitriol. It’s really dragging my blog down into a negative space. Perhaps we need a new and more accurate version of autism; not one that’s all doom and gloom. That is just why I have decided to mention the new, for 2017, Blue Power Ranger. Billy does a LOT of good things for autistic people, and I haven’t even seen the movie yet! First of all, Billy is a Power Ranger. He is a member of a superhero team. I hear he even contributes to the team’s success. If we can contribute something to the success of humanity, please, let us know. Oh, and another thing: Billy is the Blue Power Ranger. I must admit, I was a little scared that Autism Speaks might take that as a clue to hijack him, but Billy is too positive an image for Autism Speaks’ anti-autistic rhetoric. I mean, Billy contributes to the Power Rangers’ success! That, according to Autism Speaks, that cannot be. To them, autism is the enemy. So, unless Autism Speaks gets itself together and accepts autistic people as they are, then Billy is taking the color blue back from them. And that is the upside of the blue Power Ranger.

Getting the Portrayal Wrong 

I’m remembering a really bad movie I saw last year: Zoolander 2. More importantly, I’m remembering the Razzie award-nominated portrayal of All, the supposedly gender fluid model in an earlier portion of the movie. This is in no way a defense of the portrayal. This is an explanation of what actually is wrong with the portrayals that come up with marginalized people, especially if those specific people are not involved. The problem is this: the portrayal that does not involve actual research, involving actual people, is usually stereotyped, flat, often deviant, and almost always wrong.

Does anybody remember the 1988 movie “Rain Man?” I know that you are probably groaning right now, considering my regular readership. Most autistic people hate Rain Man and many subsequent portrayals of autism that do not involve the actually autistic. This “Rain Man” is a perfect example of what I say – that a first and many subsequent portrayals that are not involving actually autistic people. The only portrayals of an autistic person I have liked are the one by Claire Danes, of Temple Grandin, and Dr. Latham from Chicago Med. (I’m currently wavering on Dr. Latham – it seems a little checklist-driven.) The point is, a person from the margins of society must be involved for the portrayal to be whole. My problems with most portrayals is this:

Stereotypes and Deviancy

My initial problem with a marginalized portrayal is that it’s usually based on stereotypes. Remember the portrayals of blacks in the 1930s? They were usually a Mammy, a singer, or someone usually incompetent. Don’t get me started on how the black female romantic lead had to be light-skinned – or white-looking. Usually, the dark-skinned black person was regulated to the role of prostitute or criminal. It’s sad that I have to look to the 21st Century to see Viola Davis in non-criminal roles – and her resume is not even criminal free (How to Get Away With Murder, anyone?). How long before a regular actor of dark skin can escape portraying a criminal?

Wrongness

It’s absolutely necessary to note, back in Rain Man, that the man who is the real-life inspiration behind the “gold standard” for autism portrayal, diagnosis and future study, was not even autistic. He had FG Syndrome, a genetic anomaly on his chromosomes. It mimics autism, but it is not autism. The reason I look at Claire Danes’ portrayal of Temple Grandin is because it was much more accurate in showing how autism can actually give a different world experience, and might actually – GASP!!! – help the person. It’s a shame that a person along the margins of society cannot be given a proper portrayal unless they come out of the closet and show people how they are.

The Problem

The problem with all this is: people rely on portrayals of others and their own experiences to believe the person when they come out as, say, autistic, or gay, or even with anxiety. Due to these inaccurate portrayals of the trait or condition, they usually do not believe an autistic person unless they act like Rain Man, of more appropriately, “my cousin’s uncle’s brother’s sister’s former roommate’s son – he is autistic.” The autistic person has to literally justify their diagnosis. They have to lower their competency to be believed. They have to act like Rain Man.

Disability is Not a Costume 

I am coming off a brilliant performance of Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses,” a sort of Shakespeare showcase of linked historical plays. I am happy he did the performance; he did it well. What I am not happy about is that soon it will be put into the long history of abled actors donning disability like a costume, as if they can really draw upon direct experience.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is disturbing me about abled actors portraying disability. Is it the lack of direct experience? Is it the donning and doffing of disability like a regular Halloween costume? Is it the presumption that we actually disabled can really do that? Or is it that it seems like a version of a white person doing blackface? Maybe it’s as if we actual disabled are not good enough to provide our own voices. Why is that? If the mathematicians in “Hidden Figures” were played by white women in “black makeup,” would it not cause outrage due to the casting? Yet, because we are disabled, such outrageous assumptions like stupidity, incompetence and inability to act are foisted upon us, causing the “need” for abled actors to don disabilities like costumes, only to toss them off later. It’s a terrible thing to consider; that I’m not good enough to provide my own voice. Does anybody else want to feel this way?

Now, I can sense some people think I’m picking on Benedict Cumberbatch. That is not my aim. I just hope that he had at least one or more consultants who could put a sense of competence into his performance. I think he did; see, when his Richard III is on horseback or in battle, he is just as elegant and competent with the horse and sword as his brothers. It seems like light is breaking through, but I’m not so sure.

My aim is simply this: to help people to understand that, at the end of the day, real disabled people still feel shunned by the film industry, unless it is reality TV aimed specifically at showcasing disabilities, like A&E’s “Born This Way,” about people with Down Syndrome. With my known condition, and the glacial pace that the film industry is moving, it’s going to be a long time before I really feel represented in film, beyond the inaccurate portrayal by Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man.” Oh, how I wish I could shed that image!