And Now a Word From the FuckAbility™ Research Council on the Film The Favourite

If You Don’t Care for Satire, Beware of This Greek Director Filming Rabbits

The Verdict: The Favourite is full of shitty people, shitty behavior, and shit. It is a magnificent film about that most favored form of disability: crippling whilst posh. It centers a disabled woman fucking and then fucks with your head about disabled women fucking. So. It’s complex. It portrays a disabled woman being sexual and a jackhole. Also: I laughed. A lot.

(The 18th Century; The Court of Queen Anne But Not Really) If you took Tony Richardson’s Tom Jones, and Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, shoved them into Watership Down with any of John Waters’s pre-Hairspray films, the surviving film that hopped out might be Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite.


Christ on a cracker, the FuckAbility™ Research Council hates being serious but needs must on the issue of casting and representation. Olivia Colman has a disability history that is, in fact, relevant to her role in The Favourite. Ruling that she’s not disabled enough, or has the wrong disabilities to qualify her for the role, reduces us to our diagnoses — something we have long fought against.

Bawdy without any ameliorating jolliness, The Favourite has an essential meatiness that’s mostly missing from the lives of bodies on the mainstream screen, including physically disabled, ill, or aging bodies. It got to me. The night after I watched it, I had a dream that I went to use the toilet and found I had shit smeared all under my clothes. When I woke up I knew it was because the reeking sensibility of The Favourite had made a powerful impression on me.
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And Now a Word from the FuckAbility™ Research Council: RJ Mitte In as Presenter at the Palme d’Visage Awards

RJ Mitte Will Present at the 2019 Palme d’Visage Awards, Signaling That The Upside Will Win Most Condescending

Matt Damon, Master of Diversity, Hails RJ Mitte’s Commitment to Avoiding Discussion About The Upside‘s Discriminatory Casting Practices and His Unstinting Support for the Status Quo That Blocks Disabled Actors From Competing for Roles

(Battlecreek, MI) NoVariety announced today that RJ Mitte will present the inaugural “RJ Mitte Award for Most Half-Assed Casting in a Film Depicting a Disabled Character.” Emma Stone will portray RJ Mitte at the March awards ceremony in beautiful downtown Switzerland now that Jennifer Lawrence, who had been a lock, became uncastable after a recent injury left her with difficulty walking.


“I can’t imagine a situation where I’d tell Bryan — who’s been like a father to me — that, while I know he cares about me and wants to help me, I can’t let him use that as an excuse for a business decision that hurts others.”

Mitte has been vocal on social media about his support of Bryan Cranston’s casting in The Upside. “Disability stories need to be told and films like this wouldn’t be made without a star like Bryan Cranston. Conflicting messages about inclusion that reach as many people as we can are how we change mindsets and remove the stigmas around disabilities.  As a disabled actor, I am proud of his performance in The Upside and I can’t wait to see Emma Stone’s portrayal of me presenting him with the award.” Continue reading

And Now a Word from the FuckAbility™ Research Council on “The Upside”: For Your Condescension

A photo of a janky wheelchair overlaid with: FOR YOUR CONDESCENION, When it comes to the 2019 Palme d'Visage Award for "Most Half-Assed Casting in a Film Depicting a Disabled Character," the Choice is Clear....THE WHEELCHAIR in The Upside © 2019 talesfromthecrip.org

Going to see The Upside?

Don’t miss an opportunity to share your feelings about the film’s bold casting decisions. #CastBoldly

Print the graphic above and hand it out at the theater!

Sample messages for sharing your excitement:

Access icon in blue and white“I haven’t seen such bold half-assed casting like this since last year’s Palme d’Visage winner gave us A Pair of Raybans as the lead in Blind: Based on a Mall Store Called The Sun-Glass Hut by The Food Court.”

Access icon in blue and white“Do you think Streep could do what The Wheelchair did: Cradle Cranston’s ass while wordlessly conveying every stereotypical cliche about living with a disability? I scoff at that!”

Access icon in blue and whiteMatt Damon said it was okay!”

See you in beautiful downtown Switzerland in March for the Palme d’Visage Awards!


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.

HEY! YOU! MEDIA! An Inconvenient Truth About Why Casting is a Problem in “The Upside”

The inconvenient truth about The Upside is that its misguided casting is based in a biased business decision, not creative expression.

As in Me Before YouBreathe,  and He Won’t Get Far on FootThe Upside failed to cast a wheelchair-using actor and instead chose Bryan Cranston, who does not have a visible disability.  Admittedly, I hadn’t expected Cranston to have actually been “the one who knocks” in his own life when he played the role of a drug dealer. But I am critical of him deciding to take the role of a recently disabled man — and, more importantly, I’m critical of how systems protected him from having to face serious competition from wheelchair-using actors. He recently defended his choice, saying it was a “business decision.”

Many disabled people disagree. Cranston, and many others, scoff at the criticism, saying that movies are a commercial venture and that, moreover, disability is just another fictional experience to portray. Actors act, after all…unless the actor has a visible disability, in which case their talent could never sway an audience — or a producer.

Muddling these arguments together is a mistake. The first is about business practices and the second is about creative expression. For actors, creative expression requires industry access — and that’s why casting norms need to change before debates about representation and creative expression can be anything but theoretical.


If the industry is going to limit nearly all physically disabled actors to roles defined by physical disability, non disabled actors shouldn’t be surprised when there’s anger at seeing those roles lost to actors who are not physically disabled. If only 2% of roles are disabled characters, to begin with, and 95% are played by actors without disabilities, that’s a systemic employment barrier.


Creative expression has different bases. Some of us experience disability as an event that affects our lives and some experience it as a component of our identity. Many of us experience both.

In creating disability narratives, this difference positions disability either as an event that drives the plot forward or as a component of identity that contributes to a character.  Both are valid and both can lead to high- or low-quality work.

That difference is not going to be resolved. It’s not even a problem to be solved. In terms of acting, I would say it’s even a mistake right now to be drawn into too much arguing about the specifics of who’s “allowed” to play what roles.


The problem is that actors with visible disabilities are shut out of casting and that prevents careers — and clout.


One reason is that it too easily reduces us to diagnoses. Another it that it risks inhibiting imagination and empathy. I have muscular dystrophy and use a wheelchair now. I spent my childhood misdiagnosed with cerebral palsy. I’ve had agitated depression. And I swear to god I don’t know if I’m sweating right now from frustration or menopause. I have also had colds, pneumonia, and tummy-aches. What types of disabilities are “appropriate” for me to play? Should only people like me, who grew up with a disability, play roles of characters who had disabilities in childhood? And where does this leave the vast numbers of actors with invisible disabilities who have succeeded in passing as non disabled? 

It’s an interesting discussion — what constitutes “enough” experience — but it’s currently entangled with the real issue to be confronted: biased business practices.

Trying to avoid thThe argument that a non disabled actor — in this case, Bryan Cranston — is simply the superior artist doesn’t hold up. What are all of these roles that visibly disabled actors have performed in such an inferior fashion? Spoiler alert: They don’t exist so you have no actual comparison. Just an assumption that visibly disabled actors wouldn’t be as good or better.

And, in terms of artistry, here’s a question: To what degree does the non disabled actor depend upon a prop to get the acting job done? Because when it comes to physical disability, I’m not sure audiences would buy him as a wheelchair-user if he weren’t sitting in a wheelchair. Props are important, yes, but they’re not a substitute for an actor.

The problem is that actors with visible disabilities are shut out of casting and that prevents careers — and clout. That’s the problem in the business of show. That’s why Cranston’s casting is being called out. 


This is why losing one more exceedingly rare lead role — a wheelchair-using character — is so infuriating. Using the tired “Because BUSINESS” is a sloppy excuse for systemic bias that produces abysmal hiring rates. Casting is currently a business that effectively places its every office on the second floor of an elevator-less building and then says no wheelchair-using actors showed up so they just don’t want it enough, etc., etc..


Visibly disabled actors are not considered “appropriate” for casting in roles where there’s no mention of disability. The truth is that, had he been a visibly disabled actor, casting statistics show how unlikely it is that Cranston would have been cast in the many, many roles that, together, have built his career and now provide his clout.  

If the industry is going to limit nearly all physically disabled actors to roles defined by physical disability, non disabled actors shouldn’t be surprised when there’s anger at seeing those roles lost to actors who are not physically disabled. If only 2% of roles are disabled characters, to begin with, and 95% are played by actors without disabilities, that’s a systemic employment barrier. Starvation seldom breeds generosity. 

This is why losing one more exceedingly rare lead role — a wheelchair-using character — is so infuriating. Using the tired “Because BUSINESS” is a sloppy excuse for systemic bias that produces abysmal hiring rates.

Casting is currently a business that effectively places its every office on the second floor of an elevator-less building and then says no wheelchair-using actors showed up so they just don’t want it enough, etc., etc..

When an actor like Bryan Cranston finally has to actually compete with physically disabled actors who are in his casting echelon, then we can have that thoughtful discussion about balancing representation and artistic expression. Until then, it’s just  another business getting away with unfair practices. And not even very creatively. 

A janky wheelchair named Janky Wheelchair

This is not a substitute for physically disabled actors. Courtesy of https://hiveminer.com/User/klickertrigger

The NotPeople Magazine Cluelessest Man Alive Interview: Harper’s Rick MacArthur Gets Notpersonal With Janky Wheelchair About John Hockenberry, Disability, and #MeToo

"WE'RE NOT THAT SMART!" Katie Roiphe Begs Her Many Reader to Believe She's Not Colluding With John Hockenberry to Destroy Harper's; NotPeople; "Special" Crossover Issue With THE SIT-DOWN's Janky Wheelchair; Cluelessest Man Alive! RICK "NOT THE GENIUS" MACARTHUR; CRIPSPLAINS HOW WHEELCHAIRS PREVENT SEX HARASSMENT AND WHY DISABILITY + #METOO IS HI-LAR-I-OUS'; © 2018 talesfromthecrip.org

Photo courtesy Spectator

He strides into the cafe we’ve agreed to meet at. Leggy, silver-tressed, with creamy skin lightly dusted with freckles, Harper’s president and publisher Rick MacArthur is a knock-out at 62 even in the rumpled khakis that glide over his still-boyish hips. When he collapses into a chair, he lays a Trapper Keeper on the table, murmuring that it’s ten times better than that [bleeped] phone nonsense.

Announcing that this is his cheat day — “I learned recently this referred to food!” — he peruses the menu — “This menu’s paper quality is fantastic, isn’t it?” — before ordering a green juice, bananas Foster, and a double Scotch. He asks me when the guy who’s doing the interview is going to show. He is adorable. He asks again, using the words, “Chop chop.” He’s everything this interview said he’d be.

I’m still mesmerized by how stunning Rick MacArthur is, in person. The Author’s Guild photos don’t do him justice. I ask who dressed him for our interview and he gazes at me with fathomless confusion before laying his fingertips lightly on his shirt-front and saying, “I should know this! He’s worked for our family since before I was born. He’s going to be so mad at me. Not that he’ll ever express it.”


As the long-awaited second installment of Tales From the Crip’s series, Imaginary Interviews With People Who We Wish Were Imaginary, our new FuckAbility™ Research Council‘s Crip Carpet Correspondent, Janky Wheelchair, follows up on TryHarder™ Magazine’s recent take-down of John Hockenberry’s journaling essay, “Exile,” by devoting an entire episode of THE SIT-DOWN to publisher of the essay, Harper’s Rick MacArthur.
Photo of a janky wheelchair and text: The FuckAbility TM Research Council Presents The Sit-Down Hosted By Janky Wheelchair Copyright 2018 talesfromthecrip.org

Janky Wheelchair portrait courtesy of hiveminer.com/User/klickertrigger

The vivacious magnate talks nonstop about why paraplegics can’t sexually harass anyone; why he, a Francophile, is launching a Moi Aussi men’s movement to counter Me Too’s “Soviet-style” excesses; why paper is the future of Harper’s; and how everyone forgets how great John Hockenberry was in the film Coming Home. Keep reading for the unedited transcript of Janky Wheelchair’s exclusive hard-hitting interview with lively minx Rick MacArthur.

Flambee your bananas and keep the Scotch flowing because Harper’s RICK MACARTHUR is gracing the cover of NotPeople magazine as the CLUELESSEST MAN ALIVE! 


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And Now a Word from the FuckAbility™ Research Council on “He Won’t Get Far on Foot”: For Your Condescension

Good Will Hunting Matt Damon Hails Diversity in Gus Van Sant’s Narrative, Says:  Don’t Worry, Your Story of Charles Bukowski John Callahan, an Angry, Alcoholic, Tortured-Artist White Guy With an Adoring and Need-Free Girlfriend Who Supports His Artistry Is Totally a Fresh Take and the Janky Wheelchair Is a Genius Casting Choice, Lending Rare Authenticity to the Project, and Giving a Raw Performance of Startling Gravitas Seldom Seen From a Piece of Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

Also: Muffin Baskets of Condolence for the Death of Any Attempt to Cast Disabled Actors or, Like, Even One of the [NUMBER REDACTED] Wheelchair-Using Actors Currently in the Business of Show, May Be Sent to the “Association to Raise Awareness of Disability Awareness in the Entertainment Industry” at Their Offices, Which Are, No Doubt, Located on the Second Floor of a Building Without An Elevator

FOR YOUR CONDESCENSION, we present:

Wheelchair Barfly

DISCLAIMER:  All snark, snottiness, sarcasm, and snappy sardonicism contained therein is directed solely at Gus Van Sant’s directorial choices regarding He Won’t Get Far on Foot (originally titled, My Own Private Solipsism) and not toward John Callahan, who was, in FARC’s opinion, one funny fucker. Even when he was wrong, he was hilariously wrong:
A Callahan greeting card showing a witchy-looking older white woman, hands on her hips, behind a counter with books on it. She's scolding a terrified bald white man: "THIS IS A FEMINISTBOOKSTORE! THERE IS NO HUMOR SECTION!!!

Courtesy John Callahan


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.

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.