About

This is the class blog for COMM 3263 Media Literacy.

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One Response to “About”

  1. mmiller88 May 2, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    More often than not, then media is the window through which people see how the world works. We gather our beliefs, our vocabulary, our trends, and in some ways our identity from what we see in the media. A common theme today for companies is to sell sex and people commoditized by sex, but with the statistics being that one in five people lives with a disability (Rilley), I feel that the disabled community is not only misunderstood in many circumstances, but also greatly under-represented. Often in television shows or movies a disabled person is played by a popular heart-throb or well-respected actor that is in fact not disabled. For example, in the 1988 movie Rain Man, award winning actor Dustin Hoffman plays Raymond, a severely autistic man, but in fact, Dustin Hoffman isn’t autistic at all; he isn’t even disabled. This raises the question of why the media industry chooses not to cast truly disabled individuals to represent themselves. Surely there are disabled individuals who can act or have talent, but the media’s choice to misrepresent disabled people shows a lack of authenticity, sincerity, and respect to the disabled community. Can they not be trusted to behave and perform like a non-disabled individual would? Are they incapabable of understanding or completing a task? I have to wonder how often disabled people ask themselves these questions, and in my paper I intend to look at disability in the media and evaluate the different sides to this issue.
    Because of my admiration for Marlee Matlin and her activism in the deaf community, I chose to look at her representation on the show The Apprentice. This season she is competing on a team of high-powered, opinionated women and her constant struggle to appear able, rather than DIS-abled is something that is very apparent when watching the show. In the second episode of this season, Marlee’s team has the task of creating a children’s book and presenting it to an audience. Marlee feels that the book should be about a lion that finds its voice, but the team quickly shuts her down and one of her fellow cast mates, Dionne Warwick suggests that the idea would make children sad or pity the lion. Marlee is very offended and defends not only her idea and her own disability, but all people with disabilities that are still capable human beings. When I was watching this episode, I couldn’t help but feel that Marlee not only had no hearing, but she had no voice. It made me sad to see how her teammates stereotyped people with disabilities, and it made me realize how little representation that disabled people get in the media. Whatever images and stereotypes that we have are most likely developed from the media, not from the disabled community itself. I find it inspirational that Marlee is not only so brave, but so passionate about bringing to light the rights and dignity that disabled people have.
    In my paper I want to look at how the disabled community is not only represented, but also how the media portrayal has influenced our stereotypes about disabled people. I am going to examine the audience/media consumer, and also the voice of the disabled. I want to gain a better definition of what disabled means especially to disabled people. I also want to evaluate what the future in the media holds for the disabled community and how that will affect society and our cultural views of disabled people. Because the media often portray such a slim part of the disabled community, I am going to look at how the media uses the “supercrip” and the helpless, or pitied individual to represent such a slim part of the disabled population. With that I also want to look at how these stereotypes are being challenged today and how not only the media, but us as consumers of the media we can be more inclusive to such a largely under-represented group.

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