Attitudes to disability in the media

“Disabled people rarely appear in popular culture. When they do, their disability must be a continuous preoccupation overshadowing all other areas of their character. Disabled people are disabled. That is what they “do.” That is what they “are.”” (King 1993, p 72)

I think that a good way to start researching for my project is to look at how disabled people are portrayed in the media; this will give me some ideas of how to approach and how not to approach my subject matter. It is important that I do not evoke feelings of horror or pity; I wish to challenge stereotypes, not to reinforce them. Continue reading “Attitudes to disability in the media”

Disability and sexuality: reclaiming the disabled body

“Disability represents a significant pivot point where the difference between sex and gender becomes problematic. Gender in the presence of the disabled body does not overlay sex in the typical way because the difference between ability and disability trumps the difference between Ladies and Gentlemen, suppresses the assignment of gender, and denies the presence of sexuality.” (Siebers 2008, p 174)
Continue reading “Disability and sexuality: reclaiming the disabled body”

Pete Mansell

Les had recommended that I look at the work of former OCA student Pete Mansell on a number of occasions. Unfortunately I had been unable to access his website and blog until quite recently.

His is an insider view of disability, and as such it would have been great to get some feedback from him about my project and how he felt my work was progressing (as a disabled person in the UK, he could have told me about how my representations were coming across to a different disabled audience, which would have been very interesting). Continue reading “Pete Mansell”

Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body

This anthology looks at how humans, particularly those with ‘physical anomalies’, have been publicly exhibited for entertainment and profit throughout history. Apparently even in pharaonic Egypt dwarfs resided in the households of statesmen to provide entertainment and distraction from the burdensome duties of office. In ancient Greece birth defects were viewed as divine warnings of the future or past transgressions, while in the Middle Ages they were seen as examples of the wrath of God – “forms of divine punishment meted out to individuals, communities, or even nations” (Grosz 1996, p 57). Continue reading “Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body”

Constructing normalcy

Regarding the stereotype of the ‘normal’ American, Goffman (1963) wrote:

“in an important sense there is only one complete unblushing male in America : a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual Prostestant father of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight and height and a recent record in sports. Every American male tends to look out upon the world from this perspective… Any male who fails to qualify in any of these ways is likely to view himself – during moments at least – as un-worthy, incomplete and inferior” (1963, p 153) Continue reading “Constructing normalcy”

Disability research – goals

This part of my research will focus on disability and how it is represented in the media and elsewhere. I will look into disability studies to help me with terminology and an understanding of the general issues arising in disability discourse, as well as looking at some disabled artists to get an idea of how they are representing themselves. The goal is to reach a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding disability in order to avoid misrepresenting disabled persons, as well as to inform myself about how disabled persons themselves wish to be perceived (obtaining such information can enable me to more effectively empower my subjects).

David Hevey

After reading his essay, The Enfreakment of Photography, I decided to look a bit more at David Hevey and what kind of work he is doing. He calls his work a ‘post-tragedy form of disability representation’. He faults postmodern theory since it does not take into full account the distribution, audience and production of images, and he (along with Jo Spence) distrusts academic nit-picking since he believes it obliterates larger issues of class with psychoanalytic analysis (according to Mary Warner Marien in Photography: A Cultural History). Continue reading “David Hevey”

The Enfreakment of Photography

During research for my last major project, I came across a reference to this essay and then later located it in the Disability Studies Reader. In it, David Hevey looks at how, on the whole, disability imagery is oppressive to its subjects, regardless of the photographer’s intentions. Since the author is both a photographer and disabled himself, this essay has some valid insights into how disabled persons are portrayed in the media. Continue reading “The Enfreakment of Photography”