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Disability in the Media

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Margaret Stephany

on 15 December 2012

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Transcript of Disability in the Media

These common portrayals, along with the under representation of disability in the media, created an inaccurate representation of people with disabilities.

The media's misrepresentation of people with disabilities was an influential factor in society's overall misunderstanding of people with disabilities. History of Disability in the Media Historically, the portrayal of people with disabilities in the media perpetuated societal misconceptions and stereotypes of disability.

Common stereotypes included the portrayal of people with disabilities as:
The object of pity
Helpless and in need of charity
Sinister or evil
Eternally innocent
Heroic Disability in the Media Current Portrayals of Disability in the Media Increase in representation of people with disabilities in the media, both played by actors with and without disabilities
The 1986 film, Children of a Lesser God, was the first film to use an actress with a disability to play a character with a disability Social Media The portrayal of people with disabilities in the media has become more positive over time, yet negative portrayals and misrepresentation still exists.

To combat this, people have started to represent people with disabilities themselves through consumer generated media. Personal Opinions We asked Kathleen King, a teacher with Multiple Sclerosis, and Fred Miller, a Special Education Physical Education Teacher, to share their thoughts and opinions about disability in the media to get a unique and personal perspective on this issue. Maggie Byrne, Katherine Gailey, and Margaret Mary Stephany Disability in the Media Object of Pity Portrayal Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol Helpless and In Need of Charity Portrayal Print advertisement for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit founded in 1938, to combat polio The way people with disabilities are portrayed in the media influences the way people with disabilities are perceived by society. Historically, people with disabilities have been portrayed negatively in the media, in ways that perpetuate negative stereotypes. Modern portrayal of people with disabilities in the media is more frequent and more positive but still needs to improve. Sinister Portrayal Dr. No, a man with two prosthetic hands, was the antagonist in the 1962 James Bond movie titled "Dr. No"
Often times deformities were characteristics of the antagonists in movies Innocent Portrayal Raymond, from the 1988 film Rainman, was portrayed as being eternally innocent due to his intellectual disability Heroic Portrayal Many ads portrayed people with disabilities "overcoming" their disability Effect of the Media's Inaccurate Portrayal Narrative Prosthesis- the use of disability as a device of characterization

Stereotypes- as with all aspects of society, stereotypes about people with disabilities are still incorporated into the media Children of a Lesser God Actress Marlee Matlin is deaf and plays a character who is deaf American Horror Story Jamie Brewer, an actress with Down Syndrome, plays Adelaide, a character who also has Down Syndrome Glee Three actress with Down Syndrome have appeared on Glee since its start in 2009: Lauren Potter, Jordyn Orr, and Robin Trockie Casting people who have disabilities to play characters with disabilities in television shows and films has started to improve the accuracy of representation of people with disabilities in the media. The Secret Life of the American Teenager Luke Zimmerman, an actor with Down Syndrome, plays Tom Bowman on the show Narrative Prosthesis The twofold concept that disability is used in media as a stock feature of characterization and as an opportunistic metaphorical device

Literary narratives rely upon disability as a symbolic figure and as a feature to highlight and define the main story Prevailing
Current Stereotypes Unfortunately, our findings show that stereotypes are still prevalent in society as they provide a way for people to easily categorize groups of people

Today, one of the most common stereotypes of people with disabilities portrayed in the media and perceived by society is the idea that a person with a disability is a social outcast Artie from Glee Artie is a member of the Glee Club, a group of the high school's "misfits" who are constantly being bullied Facebook Twitter YouTube Kathleen King Do you notice disability in the media more that you have multiple sclerosis than you did before you were diagnosed? Fred Miller Conclusion Citation Barnes, C. (1992). Disabling Imagery and the Media: An Exploration of the
Principles for Media Representations of Disabled People, England, Ryburn Publishing Limited in The British Council of Organisations of Disabled People.

Mitchell, D. & Snyder, S. (2010) Narrative prosthesis. In L. Davis (Ed.), The
Disability Studies Reader (pp. 274-287). New York: Routledge.

Safran, S. P. (n.d.). The First Century of Disability Portrayal in Film . The Journal
of Special Education . Retrieved November 11, 2012, from http://sed.sagepub.com/content/31/4/467.short.

Shapiro, J. (1994). No pity. New York: Times Books.

The representation of people with disabilities in the media has been characterized by negative stereotypes and misrepresentations in the past. Disability in the media has become increasingly positive and more frequent but still has room for improvement. Yes, absolutely. Now that I know the lifestyle of someone with a disability I notice if there is ever a character in a movie or TV. It's very rare. Do you wish there were more people with disabilities in the media? Yes, I think there needs to be a more realistic portrayal of society. The reality is-- people do have disabilities. Characters on TV and in movies don't reflect the actual population. Do you think it would be a challenge for a person with a disability to be an actor or actress in an advertisement, television show, or movie? Not at all. People with disabilities should have a greater opportunity to act. I think it'd be empowering. My favorite show is Breaking Bad and there is an amazing actor in the show with a disability.
Do you think we'll see a trend of more actors with a disability in mainstream media? I do. I don't think it will be an overwhelming amount, but I think people are becoming more open minded and seeing that talent exists in a variety of different people. What are your opinions of current portrayals of people with disabilities in the media? The portrayals are not accurate. They do not highlight the daily struggles people with disabilities overcome. However, I will say there is a lot more representation in the media than there was 20 years ago, which I believe is a step in the right direction. Ideally, how would you like to see people with disabilities portrayed in the media? I would like to see people with disabilities have the opportunity to act in movies and television shows. Only people with disabilities know what it is like to live with one, so I think it is wrong to have a person who is not disabled act or pretend like they have a disability for a television show or a movie. Do you think increased media representation of people with disabilities would eliminate negative stereotypes? Absolutely. People tend to form stereotypes about things they do not know a lot about. Not to mention in our current society, people learn a lot from the media; therefore, more portrayals of people with disabilities will make people more knowledge about disabled culture. I know you are a Special Ed. P.E. teacher; do you think any of your students would have any interest acting or working in the media? Definitely. My students have all sorts of dreams and aspirations. I know a few of my students in particular would love to get into acting. I hope they are given the opportunity to get into this line of work.
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