Category Archives: Popular Culture

Chiron, James Baldwin, and Autistic Experience

Two days after an Academy Awards where Moonlight won ‘Best Picture’, a line of over 1,000 people wrapped three city blocks awaiting to see its showing at the palatial Castro Theatre in San Francisco. As the first winner to feature a queer storyline as well as an entirely black cast, that enthusiastic turnout was understandable - especially among populations that saw themselves reflected for the first time in a Best Picture winner. Great art, and Moonlight is certainly great art, has the ability to not only offer a cultural critique but to pull out from the viewer an intimate connection to the work presented before them. Great art can draw that connection even if the viewer’s own life and story only passively relate to the subject they are engaging with (plenty of people have seemed to passionately connect with the themes of the hit Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ despite never having lived … Continue Reading ››

Speechless O-S-Oscar P-A-Party Reinforces a Dangerous Stereotype

I love ABC’s Speechless.  It is one of my favorite shows currently on the air. As someone with cerebral palsy, I’m beyond thrilled that someone like me is finally being shown on TV as just a regular character, not a “special” guest to teach the non-disabled characters the meaning of kindness. Micah Fowler, who plays JJ, actually has cerebral palsy, a fact that excites me to no end. Unfortunately,the show has a worrying trend of sort of sideways swiping a trope or stereotype about disability, but not directly subverting it.  It’s like after the first few episodes, the show lost its nerve.  And nowhere was that more obvious than the latest episode, O-S-Oscar P-A-Party. In it, Maya hosts an Oscars viewing party for her support group of “special needs” moms. The moms are your typical stereotype of a mom parenting a kid with a disability – Perpetually messy, sweatpants-wearing, warrior moms … Continue Reading ››

Dissociative Identity Disorder is not a B-Movie Monster

Split is M. Night Shyamalan's latest film. Over the course of its story, teenage girls are brutally attacked, watch their friends die, and get both their entrails and strategically sexy parts of their clothing ripped to pieces by a monster. The characters are one-dimensional and unrealistic, nothing more than plot devices. It's basically your generic B-movie, except for one very crucial difference: The monster isn’t the result of a science experiment gone horribly wrong or a supernatural demon. The “monster” is a person with DID, or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Honestly, saying 'person' is a bit of a stretch as Shyamalan never treats Kevin, our monster, with any shred of humanity. In Shyamalan's vision of mental illness, Kevin doesn't get to be a person. Every other character, no matter how flat, has a life outside of the horror narrative. Kevin's entire existence, in contrast, is that of brutal violence and … Continue Reading ››