Onscreen Disability Representation Improving But Still Lacks Actors With Disabilities - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Onscreen Disability Representation Improving But Still Lacks Actors With Disabilities

Actor RJ Mitte's role as Walter White's son in the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad didn't just attract attention because of his acting ability. The actor not only played a character with cerebral palsy, but he himself also has cerebral palsy. While TV and film have garnered much criticism for poorly representing people with disabilities, the number of depictions of disability on screen has nearly tripled in the past ten years compared to the previous decade, according to a study. However, while any uptick is good news, hardly any of these films and TV shows feature an actor with a disability.

Representation Of Disabilities Onscreen

While one in four adults in the US has a psychological or physical disability, it's a different story on screen. A study of the representation of characters with disabilities in film and TV from 1920 to 2020 found that of the 90,000, just 3,000 had significant disability-related themes or content. Films seemed to fare better than TV, with around 64% of the portrayals of characters with disabilities were in films and16% were in regular TV series. But when a disability is represented on screen, it rarely reflects the positive and negative realities of living with a disability for individuals and their families and what help and support are available.

Lack Of Actors With Disabilities

The number of characters on screen with disabilities is increasing. But 95% of these roles are played by actors who do not have a disability. The film Sound of Metal tells the story of a drummer who loses his hearing but received criticism for casting two hearing actors to play deaf characters. The screen adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand didn't escape criticism when it cast a hearing actor to play a character who is deaf and signs.

Portrayals Of Disabilities in Film and TV

When Warner Bros. released its adaptation of Roald Dahl's The Witches, it quickly faced criticism. Anne Hathaway's Grand High Witch has disfigured hands, resembling ectrodactyly or split hands. It reawakened the argument that the media all too frequently depicts disability as something evil. Remember all those James Bond villains with physical disabilities? But there have been some positive representations too. Pixar's recent animation Luca features a character born missing an arm but doesn't use the character's limb difference as a defining characteristic and in 2017, Sesame Street introduced a puppet with autism called Julia.

Room For Improvement

But while we still have a long way to go until disability representation is where it should be, more companies than ever are now making an effort to be more inclusive. NBC now has 18 characters with disabilities representing 12% of the network's series regulars. However, several of these characters are portrayed by actors without the disabilities that their character has. CBS and ABC have three recurring characters with a disability, while FOX has one and CW has two. FOX's 9-1-1 and the CBS shows MacGyver and NCIS: New Orleans has an actor with the same disability as their character.
The entertainment industry has a huge role to play in helping to change inclusivity through more accurate depictions of nonvisible and visible disabilities. While things appear to be improving, there's still a long way to go to close the representation gap on-screen and properly shine a light on talented actors with disabilities.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad