Why We Need TV and Movies That Include People with Disabilities: Part 104

So there I was today on NPR’s “On Point” program with two terrific blind professionals and I was feeling like the school kid who has to use the bathroom and can’t wait any longer to announce the matter. I needed to say that the reason blind people are so woefully unemployed and the reason that the public marvels at the accomplishments of exemplary blind professionals like Gordon Gund or David A. Paterson is that the film and TV industries continue to make blindness look horrible.  Who wouldn’t imagine, after seeing that dreadful movie “At First Sight” (with Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino) that being blind isn’t  a minimal life? That movie came out at the same time as my memoir “Planet of the Blind” and it reinforced every cliché about blindness that I was trying to conquer. If the human resources professionals saw a prime time television show in which a blind person confidently uses state of the art assistive technology—heck, even showing the non-disabled characters a thing or two about the gizmos, well that would be as big a step toward changing the climate of unemployment for the blind as our well intentioned celebration of Governor Paterson’s oath of office. Let’s face it: the public thinks that blind people are scarcely able to navigate their living rooms. How could they possibly serve as good employees? That Ph.D. or Master’s degree must be some kind of a trick. That’s it! The “brainiac” blind woman or man is probably “faking it” just like those guys you see  begging for money with the phony sunglasses. Yep! That’s gotta be it! How do I know this at (insert company name here)? Because I just saw Disney’s film version of Mr. Magoo. Now there’s a blind guy for you! Ha! I laughed til  I dropped my popcorn on my plaid shorts. Boy Oh Boy  was that ever a good movie!

In case anybody’s wondering, I was once interviewed by a producer of ABC’s television program “20/20”about the possibility of an interview associated with the publication of “Planet of the Blind”. What did I do to ruin the deal? I mentioned that ABC is owned by Disney and that the new film of Mr. Magoo was a disgrace. They were very nice as they showed me to the door.

S.K.   

Professor Stephen Kuusisto
Department of English
The University of Iowa
308 EPB
Iowa City, IA 52242

Links:

Remembering Mr. Magoo

Cross-posted on Blog [with]tv

On Today’s Op Ed Piece in the NY Times

Good morning. I am privileged to have been asked to write an Op Ed piece for the NY Times concerning the ascendancy of David A. Paterson who will be sworn in as the nation’s first blind governor on Monday. You can follow this link to read the piece.

I wish that the Times hadn’t called the editorial “The Vision Thing” since I hate to be associated with George Herbert Walker Bush or his progeny. But they didn’t ask me.

Still, the success of David Paterson is something that all people with disabilities can celebrate!

S.K.

Professor Stephen Kuusisto
Department of English
The University of Iowa
308 EPB
Iowa City, IA 52242

LINKS:

What It Means to be New York’s First Legally Blind Governor
Who Is David Paterson?
Read All About It!
Thanks Blue Girl
The Vision Thing Brigit Abstract
The first legally blind governor  Thanks Heather
David Paterson to Become First Legally Blind Governor of NY on Monday  Thanks Anne
Rhetoric about blindness begins in paterson coverage Thanks BA Haller
Kuusisto on David Paterson Thanks Ken
Building the Internal World Thanks Jean Marie
Blind elected officials  Interesting! Thanks Penny
He’s Blind. I’m Deaf. What Do I Have in Common with New York State Governor David Paterson? Thanks David
NY Times Op Ed on David Paterson Thanks, Ruth