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Thread: My latest blog - Ironbutt

  1. #1

    My latest blog - Ironbutt

    Ablebodied actors playing disabled characters. Grrr!!

    http://pushliving.com/index.php/life...om/25-ironside

  2. #2
    yea yea... but who else but Martin Short can be Uncle Jack!

    http://vimeo.com/2462812




    **Jim, Steven, or anyone with powers - can vimeo be added or enabled for embedding video?If it already exists, for example, [vimeo]xxx[/vimeo] or [vv]2462812[/vv] doesn't work.

  3. #3
    Senior Member chris-k's Avatar
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    Oh, oh...can I play Della Street? Aw, right actor, wrong TV show. But I really want to play Della Street .

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by chick View Post
    yea yea... but who else but Martin Short can be Uncle Jack!

    http://vimeo.com/2462812
    Marty does it all.

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    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Nice writeup Stevie lad. Wordsmithing runs in the family I see.
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    Senior Member wtf's Avatar
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    I read an article a week ago that disabled actors were upset that an able-body actor was playing this role. I didn't know there were so many disabled actors, but I'm sure any one of them could have played this role. Good piece Stephen.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
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    Stephen, I had a chance to read your blog, and while I can see where you're coming from, I don't completely agree. I'm all for more actors with disabilities being cast in Hollywood, both in disabled roles and roles that weren't written as disabled but could be played by someone in a wheelchair.

    But I don't think an absolutist approach is warranted or practical, as I think there are many reasons an able-bodied person would be cast as disabled. In the case of "Ironside", there are scenes where he's not paralyzed, so an actual para couldn't play those scenes without some CGI that wouldn't be cheap, nor would it necessarily work visually. Also, while it could be argued that there are better actors than Blair Underwood who are actually disabled, they don't have much, if any, name recognition. Quick, name three disabled actors that an average able-bodied person will know. Sure, Underwood may not be an A-lister, but a network show (or a big movie) without a name lead is a huge risk for the bean counters, even if it's the best creative decision. Christopher Reeve being an unknown starring in Superman: The Movie was a genius move, but Hollywood is scared of genius moves like that.

    Then there's the question, if you only want disabled actors portraying disabled characters, then can a para play a quad by those rules? Can a high quad play a guy with ALS? Should 'The Walking Dead' have recast Hershel with a real-life amputee after the character's leg was hacked off to save his life? Should Joe on "Family Guy" be voiced by an actual paraplegic who's a cop? Should "House" have had a guy with a real limp from the same medical issue (I forget the name of the issue that caused his limp and pain) as the character portray Gregory House, MD? Should Professor X be portrayed by a real para in the X-Men movies, even though he's been both able-bodied and disabled at various points in the film franchise (and comics)?

    Acting is pretending, so I don't mind able-bodied actors portraying disabled characters, even though I do think Hollywood needs some education and enlightenment with regards to people with disabilities. I think a better motivator for change would be giving kudos when Hollywood gets it right: Daryl Chill Mitchell's portrayal of Eli Goggins on the show "Ed" a decade ago, his role in the short-lived "Brothers" sitcom (Mitchell has acted pre and post SCI), RJ Mitte's portrayal of Walter White, Jr on "Breaking Bad" (born with Cerebral Palsy), etcetera.

    Lastly, I think comparing able-bodied actors portraying disabled characters to blackface is hyperbolic and actually diminishes the insidious portrayal of racism and denigration that blackface was all about. I recently saw a fellow comicbook professional and geek call the TV show "The Big Bang Theory" as "blackface for nerds", and while that is funny as a joke, and I totally see what he means, I don't think we should make the comparison seriously, with nerds or with crips... or with crip-nerds like me.

  8. #8
    Rus, Thanks for the thorough read and thoughtful reaction.

    Some links to related articles and blogs on the Ironside debate.

    I will respond with a quick note to say that I did not make the comparison to blackface blithely. While prejudice directed toward PWDs is nowhere near as overt, it's no less insidious and pervades every culture around the globe.

    Hollywood's Disabled Actors Protest NBC's 'Ironside' Casting - When Is It Their Turn?


    Disability's starring role in Hollywood


    Don't Shoot Ironside
    I've invited Larry Sapp, the creator of this FB page to offer his insights on this topic.
    Last edited by stephen212; 05-27-2013 at 11:12 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
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    Thanks, Stephen, I'll check those out.

    And remind me to post my cartoon sometime with a black guy in a wheelchair, looking at a door with an old sign on it. The old sign is painted over, marking out "Colored" and replacing it with "Crippled" and the rest left as-is: "Use Entrance in Rear".

    So, I don't disagree about discrimination and prejudice against the disabled, just the particular blackface comparison.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Scorpion's Avatar
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    By the way, I'm really looking forward to Michael J. Fox's new TV show...



    Fox also portrayed a womanizing, pill-popping, drinking, asshole of a paraplegic in "Rescue Me" on FX, funny and biting.

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