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#25 Blindness on TV

Posted Nov 26 2012 4:21pm
Today's posting prompt is intriguing... "Write a TV episode of your favorite show that features someone with your condition. What do you want people to know?"

I would love for a television show to feature a young blind child! Ideally it would be a family sitcom. It would be amazing to see a young blind child growing up on TV and dealing with the issues blind children deal with. They could feature the stress of IEP meetings and the challenges and triumphs of everyday living. I would want a real blind child to play the part. The blind community would be very sensitive to negative portrayals by a sighted actor.

Attention Hollywood. Future child star? He looks like a natural to me.
Why so sensitive? Think of the blind characters you see on television and in movies. They are fumbling buffoons, mystical old men, witches or thieves. Not very helpful! Tom is none of those things. He is just a person and it would be nice to see blind people portrayed as people, who happen to be blind.

Do you remember the movie " Blindness " that came out in 2008? It is about an epidemic of sudden blindness that causes people to become brutal, desperate, and murderous. What's shocking is that the screenplay writer attended a summer camp for the blind as part of his research to observe how blind people interact in groups. I doubt he saw anyone murdered at summer camp but somehow he came away from his experience and wrote a movie based on the premise that blindness can turn regular people into savages.

The filmmakers explained that "blindness in the film serves as a metaphor for human nature's dark side." Ugh.  To me that is such a cop out. Someone wrote this book and they adapted it with no regard for the real people who live with this condition. Just own up to your decision and don't pretend to be high minded. Would they have portrayed people with another disability this way? I don't think so.

I highly doubt the summer camp knew the prospective movie would portray blind people in such a negative way. At least I hope they didn't! I know I would be furious to have someone meet my son and then write a movie portraying blind people as animals. FURIOUS!

Guess what? If you suddenly became blind you would not act like a person who has been blind because you would have no training in blindness skills. You would be a fumbling mess. People who are blind and have had skilled training move fluidly and competently. They are professionals, and parents and members of the community.

In popular culture you can be a saintly figure like Helen Keller or, well, take your pick of the other negative characters with blindness. I would challenge Hollywood to create a REAL blind adult or child character. Not a punchline but a person. Sure they could be funny, but don't make them pathetic. Make the blind character real and multi-dimensional, just as any other role should be. Because that's what you are dealing with here- a real person who happens to be blind.

There is a real need for this in Hollywood. Screenwriters and other "Hollywood-types" can feel free to contact me for consulting work! I'll be glad to help you out with this.
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