And Now a Word from the FuckAbility™ Research Council on Who Will Win the Palme d’Visage Award: For Your Condescension

Matt Damon, MD (Master of Diversity) Hails Diversity in Film; Would Probably Remember to Include Disability Diversity if Prompted. Diversity.

Tonight, in beautiful downtown Switzerland — the Alps of the louge of suicide, home of the valley of the shadow of dignity, where the hills aren’t really all that alive — the FuckAbility™ Research Council is presenting its coveted Palme d’Visage award for the most condescending portrayal of disability in film.


This year’s nominees amazed us with their ability to FINALLY include disabled characters who fucked in groups of one or more. But, as can so often happen after such sexy-times, we were left in the dark saying to some character we barely knew, “That’s it? Seriously? OK, you know what? Please go.” 


And here are our nominees:

The Shape of Water, originally titled Children of a Lesser Black Lagoon, is about a lowly, lovely woman with no voice who is drawn into an inexplicable relationship with a sea-goblin that everyone is fascinated yet repelled by…but we’re not seeing how this is anything but an embarrassing obvious Weinsteinian fantasy wank.

Breathe is nominated, a film that our UK correspondent, The DisHon. Hilaria Mirth-Sitwell, gave one middle-finger up out of a possible two, because of the “twist” in which our hero decides to kill himself. It reminded us that the only thing more durable than the medical equipment he helped pioneer is the stigma of being dependent on another person.

Now this one is a shame, because Please Stand By‘s director, Ben Lewin, made the very down-to-earth fucking-while-disabled movie The Sessions, and as an openly disabled man, is aware of both disability culture and politics. Would that his earlier directness about interior character shaping responses to living with a disability had dropped by the set of Please Stand By. Because all we got here was a collection of external behaviors in search of a character, all stuck in a script full of strange contradictions and cliches. And there’s a screenplay. So. Was this some hackish meta-comment on how quirky and awkward screenplay-writers are, in general? We may never know. It’s an ouro-bouros of tropes. We do know this movie prompted a great idea for somebody’s future disability studies thesis: “The Role of Random Television References in Portrayals of Characters With Unspecified Neuroatypical Conditions-Slash-Identities: Being There, Rain Man, Please Stand By.”

Christ, this is tiring.

Our final nominee has been roundly criticized for its casting of sighted actors in a movie about blind characters. Ordinarily, we would be outraged, too. But the entire concept for this film is such a piece of shit, it’s hard to care. It began as a flawed pitch complete with a meet-crip — When Mr. Magoo Met Sally — then appears to have struck a highly lucrative deal with The Sunglass Hut that opened the door to Named Unblind Talent, i.e., Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore, and the film’s death spiral began before crashing clumsily into theaters like someone’s stereotypical picture of someone who is Blind.

And the most condescending portrayal of disability in film and winner of this year’s Palme d’ Visage goes to…

Blind!

Not only for the aforementioned casting half-assery but for outstanding condescension in its very bones.

We bestow the Palme d’Visage on the Blind producers who couldn’t see the giant, flashing problems with their movie about being blind.

This is baked-in, reduce to a glaze, from-scratch condescension, folks.  From it’s one-word title — we fucking HATE the phoned-in pretentiousness of one-word titles — that all-too-accurately signals that the movie will be about Doing Stuff While Blind. And not really interesting or terribly real stuff. Walking while blind! Using a white cane while blind! Wearing a blazer while blind! Getting read to while blind! Talking huskily about loss while blind! Because that’s what being blind is. It’s being blind. Being blind all the time. So very, very, very blind. Blind.

And, no, we never actually saw Blind. We figured if the producers could make a movie about people they haven’t seen, why did we need to see a movie before judging it?

Fuck that.


FuckAbility™ Research Council (FARC) is a piece of letterhead housed on the Tales From the Crip website. FARC’s mission is to raise awareness of hollywood’s lack of awareness that many disabled adults fuck in groups of one or more. All views expressed are subject to change and denial.

I Want to Be Envied

I aim way too low.
I realized this after Congress voted this week to deny me the pleasure of peeing like non-disabled people do, which is to say, without having to do any kind of math, scheduling, or general advance planning when going out to public places.
But by being denied the minimum, I’ve learned to want everything.
You know what would be great? If I could be envied by non-disabled people.
Yes – envy’s bad! I shouldn’t want to be envied. I should want inclusion. Justice. Equality. I should want respect, love, acceptance.
Of course I want all that. But I want more.
I want to be envied by non-disabled people. Not admired. Envied.
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Disabled People Have Waited 30 Years to #PeeToo: Protect the ADA and Tell Congress to Vote NO on HR 620

In a hurry to contact California co-sponsors to say #HandsOffTheADA? DREDF has contact info and scripts.

THE ADA PASSED IN 1990. DISABLED PEOPLE STILL DO PEE MATH IN 2018. THAT ADDS UP TO INJUSTICE. TOILET ACCESS DELAYED IS TOILET ACCESS DENIED CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE BEFORE THEY VOTE THE WEEK OF FEB. 12: SAY VOTE NO ON #HR620, THE ADA EDUCATION AND “REFORM” ACT OF 2017 IF YOU DON’T GET WHY WE’RE TAKING ACTION TO STALL HR 620 YOU TRY HOLDING IT FOR 30 YEARS DREDF.ORG/HR620/


“Where, after all, do universal human disability rights begin? In too-small bathrooms, of necessity close to home – so close and so small that they still cannot be seen on any radar of Rep. Speier and way too many California representatives.”

It is profoundly demoralizing that Rep. Speier and other California members of Congress are cosponsoring .

Imagine that you have a harasser. Imagine that never know whether he will block you from getting into the public bathroom you need — sometimes pretty badly! — or not.

Imagine hearing that your harasser deserves 6 months to make “reasonable progress” toward not-harassing you — as much. After you wait 6 months, maybe you’ll be allowed to say NO to your harasser. Maybe.

Imagine your Representative is  championing your harasser’s excuse that it’s really hard to not harass you: “You have to understand that, yes, he knows what he’s doing has been against the law for almost 30 years but he needs more education.”

Access to a toilet is about dignity and safety whether the barrier is a harasser or a narrow door.

The ADA has been the law of the land for nearly 30 years and the only “reform” it needs is significantly greater enforcement. Disabled people in 2018 still can’t count on something as basic as a toilet in public spaces. If you don’t think there’s a cumulative effect of never knowing where your next pee can actually take place, you try holding it through 30 years of work-related business trips, restaurant meals, and meetings. Continue reading

An Appreciation: Ursula Le Guin, 1929-2018

I am so, so lucky to have known Ursula Le Guin at all, let alone to have had that brief time take place at Flight of the Mind writing workshops, where she taught, talked, argued, drummed (on the night of the summer solstice, no less) and listened deeply to every woman reading their work in front of the big stone fireplace. Maybe it’s the deep green leaves along the McKenzie River in Oregon but, in my mind’s eye, I see her standing under trees.  Well, she was like a great big tree. She was THERE.

A cobalt blue glass mug with 2 white birds in flight and The Flight of the Mind

A beautiful translucent blue glass mug that says, “Flight Of The Mind” with two birds in flight. A tangible reminder of a women’s writing community Ursula Le Guin helped build.

I have a memory that I almost didn’t include here because it seemed so small. But I realized it wasn’t small to me. I’ve kept it for 20 years. I had mentioned to Ursula that I couldn’t figure out what it was I was working on but I didn’t think of it as science fiction — like her work. That got me The Eye and a peppery remark that she didn’t like labels. I was writing? Good.  Keep doing it. After I read the I-don’t-know-what-this story in the evening to our little community, Ursula rushed up to me, took me by the shoulders and said, “No, you don’t write science fiction! You write Ingrid fiction! That’s MUCH stranger!” I think she blew my hair back like a fierce but friendly wind. Who helped grow my strangeness, welcomed me into The Land of Odd? I’m grateful to say: Ursula Le Guin. 

I didn’t write this for her but it’ll do:

XII

Their flowering quince is a delicate tree and lives alone as all trees do or seem to. It is time that brings a tree to the others. It happens underneath and overhead, water and light wake leaves again and again to color and begin the bending, the bowing, to the others still at a distance but coming closer as the years pass; deeper roots find common water and the branches, of whatever sort, pass the time with their leaves breathing, gossiping, nudging, colliding, sometimes crowding those within their reach — the smaller, the weaker, which every tree has been and will be again — but just as often standing shelter, giving refuge because it needs refuge before the inevitable fall to the dry, the deluge, the storm.

B/w photo of Ursula Le Guin

Courtesy New York Times

HAIL ZUKAS: “HALE” Profiles a Low-Profile Disability Rights Pioneer and Co-Founder of the Center for Independent Living (CIL)

Movie poster for the film "Hale" that has a b/w archival photo of Hale Zukas in profile, at work, and using his headstick to type. HALE is in large red letters over white type: Changing the world one letter at a time. Directed by Brad Bailey. Additional text is unreadable to me but shows 2 prestigious film hoors.

Copyright Brad Bailey 2017

I live in an unusual household: Hale Zukas is a household name in it. But that’s what happens when your spouse not only knows his disability history but many of its people (like Hale), and you happen to work with another transportation powerhouse.
Fortunately, filmmaker Brad Bailey has made an award-winning documentary profiling this low-profile disability policy pioneer, team player, and organizer for the 504 sit-in protest. But make no mistake — Hale’s low-profile comes from staying immersed in the details of policy and regulatory work. He has been — and this is key — a dreaded name by anyone who opposed accessible transit. For certain officials, there have long been six words they just don’t want to hear in connection to public accommodations: “Hale Zukas is on the line.”
BAMPFA included “Hale” in its “Visualizing the World” series last night on 1/22. I had been planning to see it but could not — and I missed a strangely satisfying opportunity to celebrate Hale Zukas on the eve of Ed Roberts Day — pre-gaming it, so to speak. Ed Roberts is often mistakenly credited with co-founding the original-flavor Center for Independent Living (CIL), but Hale really is a co-founder. He got there first.  Brad Bailey describes him as a workhorse of the disability rights movement. See the film and see why for yourself. 
Rumor has it the film will be show again in Berkeley again in February. I plan to be there.  

And Now a Word From the FuckAbility™ Research Council on Top Chef, Season 15, Episodes 5 and 6

In Which the FuckAbility™ Research Council DisRespectfully Suggests Tom Colicchio Was High When He Allowed a Cooking Challenge to be Held at 7,500 Feet Above Sea Level Given That One Cheftestant Was Pregnant and Two Others Were Using C-PAPs

Please pack your ableism and go

(The Height of Ignorance, CO)  In a shocking twist, a pregnant woman and two men who don’t breathe great found this week’s battle to be a literally uphill one when they were dumped on a friggin’ mountaintop site where Lando Calrissian is planning to break ground for his Cloud City Diner. The guest judge, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, announced the week’s challenge: Make a truly memorable dish for your own memorial service.

And — as every *real* chef should be able to do — pitch a tent in deep snow, walk around in the snow, endure freezing temperatures for over 24 hours, and manipulate sharp implements with exposed hands.

it’s even money at this point whether top chef knows that the “chilling effect” of asinine workplace practices and attitudes on women and disabled workers won’t be corrected with a thermostat.

With all due dis-respect to restaurant kitchen tradition and gulags everywhere, fuck that noise. Just because Leann still won episode 5 doesn’t make it acceptable that she had to forfeit the rest of the competition in episode 6. Seriously, she’s a fucking powerhouse and you fucked with the career trajectory of a hard-working woman chef of color. Yeah, she knew what the challenge was and, yeah, it was her pregnancy. So? That’s quite a fucking choice for her, isn’t it?

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Top 10 Reasons Why Focusing on White Students With Disabilities Is Not Acceptable Policy Strategy. In DC or Anywhere.

Lisa Simpson throwing up her hands in horror

I used this very same image for another post and darned if it isn’t perfect for this one, too! Courtesy Fox.

10. Because it’s racist. (In a rush? You can stop here!)
9. Because education policy is entwined with juvenile justice and incarceration policies for students of color with disabilities and, funny thing, disabled advocates of color think those issues are kind of urgent.
8. Because we lack the nanotechnology to measure the moral integrity of erasing students of color with disabilities from the very issue that derails and destroys their lives in vastly disproportionate numbers.
Continue reading