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  • 23cmarshall

ARRGGGG! Captain Hook?

Tropes, tropes, and more tropes...

As a writer and director, I am unfortunately very aware that disabled characters are often portrayed as either helpless or villains.

Didn’t recognize this? Think about Scar from The Lion King, all characters with eye patches, and depictions of those who have experienced trauma. This type of representation creates real-life divisiveness: encouraging the assumption that disabled people hold anger and resentment about their disability.

I had a dollar for every time I was recommended to explore a story with an ableist trope, I’d have enough money to make my next feature…

We can do better…

OH! YOU KNOW WHAT WILL SELL! How about another INSPIRING deaf story all about music or a blind person who can see visions…*insert eye roll*
What about miracles? We love those, right? If someone stands up from their wheelchair, as they probably had worked very hard to do in physical therapy. But that’s not the happy narrative closure entertainment wants… I guess wheelchairs are bad, and magically standing like in Avatar, Glee, or Midnight Mass (2021) is entertaining... /s

There is an obsession with watching disabled people be cured, using this experience as inspiration. And for many of us, there is no miracle cure. Despite the prayers of religious fanatics, many do not gain back abilities, so watching characters do so over and over is some hell of mental gymnastics. That’s not even getting into all the movies that say disabled people are better off dead…

Many people have never met a disabled person before, so they treat disability as a spectacle or a miracle, and assume their mobility aids the negative. It's time to break free from tired clichés and introduce fresh ideas for disabled characters. Accessibility is the root of innovation. Disability is not a monolith.

SO, here’s what I want:

I want a drama with an annoyed amputee demanding mechanical help when their device won’t charge or a comedy with a disabled comedian making edgy jokes that make people uncomfortable or a deaf comedian telling jokes about sign language.

I want a thriller about a rebellious disabled scientist, a blind woman protecting her daughter, or a horror about inaccessibility with life-or-death stakes.

I want a fantasy with deaf fairies and neurodivergent mermaids or an animation with animals who use mobility aids.
I want an inspiring romance where a disabled partner grapples with feeling like a burden or a satire about being patronized.

I want a superhero who happens to be deaf, and their hands become a conduit for flames, adding a unique twist to traditional signing. Or a wheelchair user who stores her disks in her tires: practical, badass, and functional.
ANNDDDD I want the villain to look like a real predator like Chris Hemsworth or Pete Davidson.

If I had that, idk, I don’t think I would have grown up being pitied.

Signing off,



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