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February 1997, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Bet MacArthur <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 2 Feb 1997 23:45:10 -0500
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (46 lines)
On 1/28 Peter Latham wrote:
>Writings on the depiction of race and gender in films are >plentiful but
I've seen very little on disabilities.
>Forest Gump (1994) is a happy exception to the foregoing. But >even with
this exception, however, it seems that individuals >with disabilities have
seldom appeared in films as "naturally" >as other minorities now do.
>I hope that I am overly pessimistic, but if I am not, I hope for change.
>Any comments would be deeply appreciated.
>Peter L.
Peter, I urge you to read Martin F Norden's  _The Cinema of Isolation_,
refered to in Dave Davidson's Screen-L note to you.
Marty & I are currently editing an anthology about disability images in
numerous forms of pop culture (print cartoon strips, mystery novels, kids'
media, stand-up comedy, etc, as well as film & TV). My own chapter happens to
be about the CBS-TV western drama 'Gunsmoke,' which ran 1955-1975, the most
popular & longest-running drama in TV history.  From 1955-1964, method actor
and former decathlete Dennis Weaver portrayed the marshal hero's sidekick, a
lame man named Chester, for which he earned an Emmy in 1958.
    This _extremely popular_ character was as 'natural' a disabled character
as any ever in film, his status rarely an item in the series' narrative (the
makers say Never, but close examination of some content belies that).
     One of our other chapters gives an authoritiative treatment of 'Star
Trek: The Next Generation,' in which no fewer than 9 running characters
possess some form of physical or emotional disability which requires
'workplace accomodation' of some kind aboard the Starship Enterprise,
comparable to those now required under the 1990 American With Disabilities
Act. This is noteworthy since very few viewers perceive these characters as
possessing disabilities.
      In film, more 'incidental' appearances of disability are rare, but
increasing. In Altman's 'The Player,' a lawyer who 'incidentally' uses a
wheelchair appears in one brief scene.
     Email me or call me for more information,  Regards,
        Bet MacArthur
        Cambridge MA
        (617) 455 6189
        In Los Angeles (310) 313 5059
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