The right side of my blog includes books and movies that portray a character with disabilities in a way that I think gives us a window in which to increase understanding. One of these actually contains several characters, men actually.
The Boys Next Door tells the story of the men who live in a group home and their social worker. These men each have their own personalities, passions, and fears. They are portrayed with grace, dignity, and a little humor. After all, isn't that what all people are, a funny, serious, happy, fearful being trying to make sense of the world?
At one point, one of the characters has to attend a court hearing. He is doing his best to answer the questions as they are asked, and in many ways is doing a great job. But here is when the magic of Hollywood takes over. The lights fade out leaving a spot on the character. Suddenly, he is able to say what he wishes he could to all of those who judge so harshly those who are disabled. He tells you why they are afraid, and full of hate when faced with "someone different."
I would like to give you that clip, for the whole script, look for the script by Tom Griffin, it's worth it. I will warn you, it was written when the R-word was used. We are still battling it, but that is another post.
(Silence. Lucien buries his head in his hands. He cannot continue. Clarke only watches. Slowly the lights change until Clarke and Jack are in darkness and Lucien is in full focus. He looks up. He stands. He is no longer the retarded Lucien, but rather a confident and articulate man. He takes the floor. To the audience, the Senate.)
I stand before you, a middle-aged man in an uncomfortable suit, a man whose capacity for rational thought is somewhere between a five-year-old and an oyster. (Pause) I am retarded. I am damaged. I am sick inside from so many years of confusion, utter and profound confusion. I am mystified by faucets and radios and elevators and newspapers and popular songs. I cannot always remember the names of my parents. But I will not go away. And I will not wither because the cage is too small. I am here to remind the species of the species. I am Lucien Percival Smith. And without me, without my shattered crippled brain, you will never again be frightened by what you might have become. Or indeed, by what the future might make you.
You see, it's not hate, it fear.