22 May 2012 Disability Rights Washington and Video Galaxy have great new video on the Ashley Treatment on their website. There is also a poll on this page asking whether you believe more safeguards are needed to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities from civil rights violations and medical discrimination of the Ashley Treatment and related procedures. Continue reading
Category Archives: What we are watching
A Prequel to Gattaca?
The 1997 film Gattaca, written and directed by Andrew Niccol, portrays a futuristic society where babies are genetically engineered according to parental references. The film features a society that consists almost exclusively of such artificially built individuals, with those who are born in the archaic, natural manner occupying the fringes of this society. In order to protect the rights of what are referred to as the “valids” and thereby keep out the inferior “invalids,” each individual’s genetic material is constantly sampled and monitored. Every person’s DNA is stored in a database, making multiple scans and random genetic sweeps in the workplace very efficient. The story follows an “invalid” who has a dream of becoming an astronaut, a job open only to the genetically enhanced elite.
But my intention here is not to provide a synopsis of the film, which is very good and is certainly well worth the time it takes to watch. Rather, I wanted to Continue reading
Erotica For Everybody?
It would seem that erotic images really do sell and that they infiltrate our society from all directions. Aside from the obvious venues for erotic images and films, pictures of handsome individuals in provocative poses are plastered all over our cities and flashed, it would seem, at every conceivable opportunity both on the internet and on television. However, images are for those who can see, which means that a substantial population is “spared” this constant barrage of depictions. Questions of morality aside, pornography sells! In fact, Lisa J. Murphy’s Tactile Mind is one example of how erotic imagery continues to fill newer and more numerous social niches. Murphy’s Tactile Mind is “a handmade thermoform book consisting of 17, 3-D tactile photographs on white thermoform plastic pages with the visual image and descriptive Braille accompaniment” (see website). The book is sold for an extravagant $225, but single pages can also be purchased for $25 a page. Another example of such “niche-filling” is “Porn for the Blind,” which is
a website which purports to offer sexual stimuli for blind people over the internet. The website is composed of a white background with a list of links to mp3 sound clips of pornographic content contributed by volunteers. A ‘translator’ will watch preview clips of videos and give a play-by-play of the events. Contributors are not allowed to use sexual words when describing existing videos and must give purely clinical descriptions of the events. (see citation)
Although, on the one hand, it might be argued that erotic images are inappropriate even in socially sanctioned contexts, it does seem a bit paternalistic to do those who can only read braille a moral favour by denying them access to erotic material. From my understanding, the two examples I provided above are quite censored as it is. The images in Murphy’s book lack faces and are featured only in single poses while the mp3 descriptive recordings do not use sexual words in their descriptions.
There is certainly a debate over the appropriateness of pornography (see Natalie Purcell’s “Feminism and Pornography: Building Sensitive Research and Analytic Approaches”), but at least now it’s everybody’s discussion!
A Couple of Edmonton Fringe Plays Worth Checking Out
At this year’s Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, there are a couple of plays with ties to the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project.
Below is some information on how you can catch these plays.
I went to see the film Marwencol last night at the Metro Cinema; if you’re in Edmonton, you can catch it Sunday and Monday nights at either 7 or 9pm. And if you are in St. Elsewhere, check it out when it does the rounds. It is breath-takingly good.
The one sentence reason why? Marwencol avoids freakification, sensationalism, and victimization in telling a powerful story that invites all three.
Taking the Australian election seriously: Every Candidate is …
Well, perhaps only taking the Australian election as seriously as it deserves to be taken, but also, for my North American friends (both of them), taking the distinctiveness of Aussie culture seriously. What other countries have a population that could, on the whole, not only head-nod but actively sing along to the chorus of the following segment from The Chasers most recent broadcast?
h/t Pamela Lyon
What its like … to be
h/t to Graham Oddie, who tips in turn to Mason Cash, completing the Alberta-NZ-Alberta circle of truth and well-being:
This is John Weldon’s To Be, and you can also get it on Youtube directly here. We’ve actually submitted a large-scale grant to get one of these machines, but with the economic downturn, I’m not optimistic about our chances.
Sesame Street Reaches Middle Age
As someone as interested as much in the sorts of people we as a society think valuable as in the processes that we use to produce more of those we value, and fewer of those we don’t, I was was struck by a brilliant post last week at Like a Whisper on a topic that might not be suspected of raising deep points about both these values and how we shape people to realize them: Sesame Street’s 40th anniversary. Like many people born in the past 50 or so years, I grew up on a steady diet of Sesame Street, initially in black and white in the back streets of Broken Hill, and later in full colour in the beach-laden northern suburbs of Perth.
I remember, quite vividly still, a particular episode that has made its way into family lore. My parents had decided that they needed to make a break from a gritty mining town in the outback of Western New South Wales for somewhere that at least had grass (really), or even water in visible supply, and took me on a trip with them east, touring through the eastern part of the state, through Tamworth (my first sight of real greenery), Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, and all the way up to Lismore, before torrential rainfall ended any more northerly ventures. While in Coffs Harbour, Sesame Street was doing its usual share of child-minding while my folks got on with other things. We were in some very cheap motel that included a coin-fed television, what we might think of as the early version of pay tv. Continue reading
Gathering Storm–The choice is yours
Ok folks, help me out here. At least one of these videos strikes me as a parody. But which? (Ah, and don’t get all confused by the titles … these are tricky people.)
Sorry, looks like no captions on either video!
What Sorts of Children’s Television Hosts?
BBC Children’s TV has a show for preschoolers called CBeebies. The show includes a lot of interesting animated, puppetry, and other fictional characters as well as human presenters… Alex, and Cerrie. Cerrie, however, has become the target of serious public campaign that claims she is frightening children.
According to the Daily Mail:
the decision to hire her has prompted a flurry of complaints to the BBC and on parenting message boards, with some of the posts on the CBeebies website becoming so vicious that they had to be removed.
Incredibly, one father said he wanted to ban his daughter from watching the channel because he feared it would give her nightmares.
Lebanese Whatsorts Rap
This Arabic rap, “Difference is Normal” was shot in Lebanon, Qatar, and Syria. Like the What-Sorts website it explores issues of human variation, particularly disability, but it does so through the haunting medium of Rap Music. It includes subtitles and there is a little sign language, but I don’t know which sign language it is. The particular version used in this music video was modified after the recent war in Lebanon and partly addresses the difficult issue of violence induced disabilities that result from war. That is how does society respect and treat the victims as individuals at the same time that we are trying to make martyrs and fuel outrage toward the other side. Continue reading
We stand for …
This is a great video created by DeedeeMom, and shown on his YouTube channel. It was created for the YouTube “What do you stand for?” competition in 2007.
The video is short; it has music in the background but no talking and all the text is fully displayed. The text in the video reads: Continue reading
Aktion T4 installation and film project
Some of you may know this already, so apologies for cross-posting. Liz Crow, a British filmmaker, has been engaged in putting together a commemorative and interactive installation chronicling Aktion Tiergartenstrasse 4, an extermination plan enacted in 1939 by the Nazi’s with the goal of eliminating people with disabilities from a society that sought Aryan perfection. Aktion T4 became the ‘successful’ blueprint for extermination camps with a broader mandate as the war progressed. In this clip–which is captioned in English, with spoken English as well–Liz Crow outlines the project and the film she’s working on.
You can also see more at the Roaring Girl Productions website, including a 3-D tour of what the installation will look like.
Talking about my generation
Ok, well, not quite … really my neighbouring generation. But still. It’s close.
I figure we all need at least a mini-break from some of the heavier-duty stuff going on at What Sorts of late. Or at least I do. So here’s at least a gesture in that direction.
Check out this smart, popular and prize-winning video, Lost Generation, from the AARP U@50 video contest. Who said that youth today were cynical?
The video that follows contains small print of all the words that are used in the audio. No transcript.
Food for thought (groan). Here is journalist Jennifer 8. Lee’s recent ( July 2008 ) TED talk, “Who was General Tso? …”
Chinese as the Linux of the culinary dining experience. Yeah.
Some nice discussions of this at WoC PhD, to whom I tip my hat. Transcript after the cut.
Haller’s review of representations of disabled people on U.S. TV in 2008*
Media dis&dat blog
Freeheld, Laurel Hester, and Garden State Equality
h/t WoC PhD; sorry no captioning for any videos in this post.
Laurel Hester was a long-serving police officer whose final years of her life were spent fighting for the rights that heterosexual couples can take for granted. Cynthia Wade’s award-winning documentary, Freeheld, tells that story.
What Sorts of Actors Can There Be?
(Image description: Actor Jason Maza sits in a grassy area on the set of “Special People” in a black manual wheelchair. He is wearing a navy hoodie with white collar and blue jeans and is holding a film camera on his lap. )
Director’s Anger over Comedy Film’s “Disability” Warning (from The Independent)
By Paul Bignell
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The movie – a comedy which follows a film-maker on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is enlisted to teach a class of wheelchair-users about film-making – has garnered awards and been selected for festivals around the world. Read the entire article at the link below:
Acknowledgment to Beth Haller @ media dis and dat
NY Times article: Move Over, My Pretty, Ugly is Here
Published: October 29, 2008
But what about ugliness?
It is an awkward topic, a wretched concept, really, and, of course, a terrible insult when flung in your direction. When a woman once told Winston Churchill he was drunk, he is said to have replied: “And you, madam, are ugly. But I shall be sober tomorrow, whereas you will still be ugly.”
Ugliness is associated with evil and fear, with villains and monsters: the Wicked Witch of the West, Freddy Krueger and Harry Potter’s arch-meanie, Lord Voldemort, with his veiny skull, creepy slits in his nose for nostrils and rotten teeth. There are the gentle souls, too, plagued through no fault of their own by their disturbing appearance: Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, the Elephant Man and Shrek, who is ugly and green but in a cute way.
Ugliness has recently emerged as a serious subject of study and academic interest unto itself, in some small part because of the success of television’s “Ugly Betty,” which ABC promoted with a “Be Ugly” campaign stressing self-esteem for girls and young women. Sociologists, writers, lawyers and economists have begun to examine ugliness, suggesting that the subject has been marginalized in history and that discrimination against the unattractive, while difficult to document or prevent, is a quiet but widespread injustice.
Researchers who have tried to measure appearance discrimination, or “uglyism” and “looksism,” and the impact of what they call the “beauty premium” and the “plainness penalty” on income, say that the time has come for ugly to peek out from beauty’s shadow.
Read the entire article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/30/fashion/30ugly.html?th&emc=th
CBC News has just run a special, Postively Autistic, that many will find of interest–the link to the site is beneath the fold below as well as a transcript. The video runs 19 minutes, and features Amanda Baggs, Ari Ne’eman, and Michelle Dawson, amongst others. The site for the special also contains a lot of other information. General drift: representation of autism as a positive human variation that stands in need of social acceptance, and links this view to the disability rights movement and the idea of neurodiversity. It’s a bit more choppy than I would have liked, and has very articulate autistics (like Baggs and Ne’eman) speaking for auties as a whole. Maybe this is a good way to start with introducing the idea of autism as a form of natural human variation, but we might push further and represent more of this variation, some of which folks will find more disturbing. (Here having Dawson in here is a bonus, since while she’s incredibly articulate, she also conveys a few more clues about the kind of variation one might find on the spectrum. Sadly, there’s not an extra piece on her, only on Laurent Mottron, whom she works with in Montreal, on the CBC website. I suspect that was a personal choice of Dawson’s.)
To be sure, this is not a way of saying Continue reading
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