The representation of people with disabilities in cinema has long been a bone of contention with both cultural critics and people with disabilities. [There's a nifty bibliography with many links here.] Too much of the time, disabilities are portrayed within the bounds of three narratives – the evil crip, the super crip and the piteous crip. More recently, questions have been raised about why able bodied actors are used to portray people with disabilities. For example, there’s an interesting testimony by amputee actress Anita Hollander on how she got bounced from the Sopranos cast and ended up as a “consultant” and a “stump double” for the actress who portrayed the Russian amputee hired as Tony’s mom’s nurse. There are some notable exceptions – such as the casting of Amy Purdy in What’s Bugging Seth, but you wouldn’t have seen that film outside the North American indie film festival circuit.
At the San Diego Comic Con recently, Lacey Henderson got a fabulous reception from the assembled geeks for her portrayal of Cherry Darling with the machine gun leg from Grindhouse. Which kinda begs the question – although she doesn’t have the star power of Rose McGowan, wouldn’t she have been a better pick to portray Cherry Darling in the first place?
Image courtesy of Camps – used under the terms of a Creative Commons licence.