Our friend Kay Olson over at The Gimp Parade has a post about two Hollywood casting calls that are looking for physically deformed or oddly shaped people for two upcoming movies: one about "the hollers" of West Virginia; the other having to do with Cormac McCarthy’s novel "The Road" which is a post-apocalyptic vision that features ghastly survivors.
Kay’s post Is "spot on" about the dilemmas of using real disabled people in exploited roles. Just so, she wants to see people with disabilities get the chance to play themselves. The problem is in the scripting of course. Nowadays Hollywood is a cartoon industry rather than a cinematic one. Film after film presents real life actors playing two-dimensional cartoon characters. Disney did this a few years ago with a version of "Mr. McGoo" starring Leslie Nielson. But you can find thousands of examples from "Pretty Woman" to "Edward Scissorhands" and beyond. The days when Hollywood jumped at the chance to film a complex novel featuring three dimensional characters are largely over. I saw only one such film making the rounds this past year. ("Atonement").
Physically challenged people are perfect for 2D roles because in the second dimension they are of course merely symbols for atavistic impulses like the belief that if you see a blind person first thing in the morning you will also go blind; or if you meet a little person you will be crushed by a falling tree. Or worse: physical difference means that you’ve been punished or rewarded by supernatural forces or the gods. This is the kind of stuff that continues to set back the public’s understanding of disabilities and I know whereof I speak for far more often than you might suppose I am accosted by people who want to pray for my recovery.
And why not? Film after film shows us to be in the hands of a twisted power.
I have the feeling that Karl Rove might have a new career in some of these films. He’s small. He has a funny looking head. He’s mean as can be. But I digress.