Friday, 8 February 2008

Disability/ Soaps

I recenlty saw this at Ouch about Disability awareness in Albert Square.
And just wondered what you thought about Soaps portrail of disabilities.
Here are a few reminders;
In Neighbours’ in the UK at the moment a story line is developing about Ringos eating disorder.
Poor Paul Robinson has had many things to endure.
And there has also been;
Josh Anderson - blinded - recovered!
Stephen Gottlieb - paralysed - recovered!
Madge - blinded - recovered!
Lori Lee - paralysed - recovered!
Stuart Parker - blinded - recovered!
Frazer Yeats - paralysed - recovered!
(What message does this send out?)

Corrie have had Jim MacDonald in a wheelchair.

Eastenders have Ben Mitchal deaf. Billy and Honey’s baby. And don’t forget Mark Fowler HIV, to name but a few.

Then there was Chris Tate in Emmerdale

And im sure everyone can remember Benny in Crossroads

Out of soap land, a few people who have caught my eye;

Just have to mention Greg House, (cos he is lovely!) who certainly has a few autistic type traits and identified himself with a young autistic boy.
On CSI Robert David Hall, who plays the doc, is a double leg amputee.

Timmy from South Park.

Dr. Kerry Weaver from ER

The makers of Wallace and Gromit have unveiled six new plasticine creations all of whom have disabilities.

Disability does make an apperance on the TV. But do you this it shown enough or well?


DJ Kirkby said...

I rarely watch TV but it sounds as if disability is being portrayed as a passing inconvienience, instead of the lifelong challenge that it really is.

katy said...

I agree with dj, if all these disabilities are 'recovered' it just doesn't show the true meaning of disability.
We should portray it as it really is not how people would like it to be.
do i make sense? i sometimes know what i want to say but don't write it very well!

frog ponds rock... said...

... TIMMY ... timmy... TIMmy... tiMMy.... t i m m y.... TimmY

cheers Kimmy

Anonymous said...

Personally, I do not think they are shown to be realistic. The soaps like the fairytale ending sometimes and life is just not like that. The drama After Thomas was pretty good, but I think they could have made it a lot more hard hitting. We need more autistic characters in soaps so people know what it is, instead of thinking Im saying "Hes ARTISTIC!"

Inthemud said...

Yes, in most soaps accidents happen with reliable regularlity and on most occasions they recover or die!

There is a great young actress in Tracy beaker, she has some form of dyspraxia for real and copes very well in her part.
You do see a few more actors with Downs syndrome these days and a few protraying ASD, there was a boy in Grange Hill and they have a Aspergers girl in Waterloo road, she is good.

I think in some senses they are trying. Soaps hope to get under our skin and into our emotions, that's why peoprl have accidents, people are injured and paralysed but in time get better, to keep us watching, long term disability is not a soap incentive as it loses the impetus. Does that make sense?

Elissa - Managing Autism said...

I don't know that soaps portray a realistic view of anything??

Some of the better written dramas and movies have shown better portrayals of disabilities, but there's definitely room for improvement.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I love trash tv, but inreasingly the way shows like eastenders are portraying disability has really wound me up. The girl in the wheelchair that was miles too big for her and she'd clearly no idea how to use really really annoyed me.
I think there's a long way to go until disability is portrayed as just another part of life like anything else either on tv or in the rest of the world. BG

abstractjenn said...

We have a show over here called Las Vegas about a casino. They have a man who is a para in a wheel chair working pretty high up in the organization and I think it sends a good message I've seen that actor on other things always playing a good part. On "Bones" he was a judge but they gave him the backstory that he was in the Gulf War and had been shot and that's how he ended up in the chair. I think in instances like that TV does a decent job. Soaps are terrible and nothing is ever final not even dying!
Have a good weekend.

Zoƫ said...

I don't watch soaps, so cant really comment on them, but thought Rainman(Dustin Hoffman) was a beautiful portrayal the issues disability can bring. Also the film Iris, which looks at the real life decline into dementia of the famous author Iris Murdoch. Also the film a 'Beautiful Mind', seemed to deal with it in a realistic and thoughtful way. The one program I am not sure about is the way disability is portrayed on 'Little Britain'. What do others think about that?

Babaloo said...

Portrayal of disability in TV is usually not very realistic as far as I can see. The disability is usually temporary. To be honest, Chris Tate in Emmerdale was one of the most realistic characters I've seen yet with him being a nasty, ruthless and cranky businessman. The fact he was in a wheelchair was usually just a sideline. First of all he was nasty and self-centered.
But then I agree with Elissa - are soaps a realistic picture of life? Not really.

buffalodickdy said...

I was in a wheelchair for about a week, and never forgot the feeling. Soaps- I could never understand how that many beautiful, well dressed people never had to go to work...

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Oh yes - get a disability in a soap and wait for the magical fairytale ending . . . everybody smiling and happy . . .mmmmm.

Angela said...

I think people want the happy ending...which is not realistic. Viewers don't become invested in the person with the disability as a parent would. It's just not exciting enough. So I guess I would say no, it doesn't portray it well?

LittleBrownDog said...

That's very interesting, Casdok, and says a lot I think about how the world in general views disability. Will be interested to see the Wallace & Gromit characters.

Phil Plasma said...

I don't watch TV much... the occasional NHL game, that's about it. There are no disabled NHL players.

Ian Lidster said...

And Bobby Goren on L&O Criminal Intent is hinted to have a form of Aspergers. Just to round out your list.


There's a great interview with Julie Fernandez who starred in The Office a couple of years ago on this topic.

Greg House (swoon) is the most convincing TV character in this sense - I worried when they decided to 'conveniently' get rid of his stick for a while (I think in real life it was hurting his back) but without it he was worse - much more convincing.

Re- Zoe's comment, I completely loathe Little Britain and it's portrayal of absolutely everything!


I forgot to check the link worked before I sorry.

It's, just in case!

Kathryn said...

I really don't think disabilities are usually portrayed realistically on tv. There are a few exceptions, I suppose.

Thank you for commenting at my blog. Nice to meet you!

Moondreamer said...

Disability in fictional TV seems very 'token' to me, which is a shame, such a fab opportunity to make some profound and meaningful statements on society wasted with unrealistic portrayals.

Off topic, and in answer to something you said a while ago: I just wanted to let you know that it was a New Moon yesterday, Casdok! And there's a link on my New Moon post to a calendar of New and Full Moon dates for this year.

Happy New moon!


Teachin' this mommy new tricks! said...

My best-friend's mom is paralysed and she has an amazing life. She doesn't let anything hold her back and doesn't stop for anything! She is just great!

Anonymous said...

Heck even toy companies are trying to make a buck or two from dolls and such that are handicapped!

Tom Foolery (TF) said...

The greatest disabilty of the human race, is simply our inability to accept everyone is equal TFX

Cheri said...

The soaps we have in the US never parallel reality on any matter. In real life 50% of marriages end in divorce, in soaps it's more like 95% with a 100% chance of remarriage before the year is up. If there's no body, they aren't dead, and will be back. If there is a body, look forward to an unkown evil twin or amazing plasitc surgeries! Soap children are never between the ages of 5 and 16, and Erica Can was raped when she was 16 and has a daughter who is in her twenties.

It's all about hoping for things that don't happen to happen. Like having a mysterious illness come to you in your hospital every week that you and your team manage to solve just before death.

On All My Children they wrote in a girl with Aspergers, but it's a little iffy, and apparently it limited the actress's ability to grow as a character, so they wrote her a part as an identical twin. Has anyone had a chance to see Big Bang Theory? The Sheldon character must have aspergers, though they don't say so.

Soaps were meant to give people an escape from reality. That's why we watch them.

Seamus said...

Since TV is such a pervasive influence in modern society, I think that honest portrayal of people in all circumstances is paramount. I do believe it is probably a disservice though to constantly create magical cures. IMHO

Helen@muisto said...

I LOVE Dr House :-D

Chris H said...

From what I've seen of 'disabled' actors in soaps etc, it is NOT realsitic or indicative of how it really is in real life.

Annieye said...

Disability awareness is sometimes very difficult for able-bodied people to grasp, I think.

I like to pride myself at work on the way my service respects diversity and ensures equality.

About a month ago, I was responsible for a Council public meeting at which there were several public speakers. The policy says they have three minutes each.

I noticed that one of the speakers was obviously quite physically disabled, although not in a wheelchair; I went up to him before the meeting started and said that, if he preferred, he need not get up and walk from the public gallery to the speakers' chair when it was his turn to speak He was really grateful. When it came to his turn to speak, it was obvious he had a speed impediment too. Public speakers are usually timed to make sure they don't go over their allocated three minutes. I turned off the timer and passed a note to the Chair of the Committee that I was not timing the speaker. An agreement was nodded to me.

Would you believe it, a member of the public actually complained that we had let the disabled speaker have longer than his allocated three minutes? I was absolutely flabbergasted. How could they have been so insensitive. The poor bloke, having been brave enough to speak in front of a public audience, went bright red. I could have cried for him.

TV certainly helps to raise awareness of disabilities but real changes won't happen until people learn to respect those with disabilities instead of stereotyping them.

dawn said...

Hey you on All My Children they have a girl who they've had grow up on the show with Asbergers Syndrome. I think it has brought alot of awareness to autism. Have a great weeknd!!!!

Ashley Ladd said...

As the mom of a borderline autistic son, I agree. I wish these disabilities were portrayed with more believability, too.

leslie said...

I agree with most people here that disabilities are not usually portrayed realistically. But it is heartening to see disabled people being hired in the TV/movie industry and doing well. e.g. Las Vegas, Bones, and CSI.

titration said...

I do love house but the other shows I haven't even heard of.... Hmmm. Yeah that's interesting that they seem to have everyone recover. Hmmm.

Mrs. C said...

Hey, what about amnesia!???

That's also a necessary plotline, ya know, but I forget where I was going with that...

Honeysuckle said...

I'd discount Neighbours as that's not realsitic on any count, but there have been others - in Crossroads there was also Sandie in a wheelchair, and does anyone else remember the 'ESN' - terminology of the time - classmate in Please Sir?

But the nicest portrayal/inclusion of a disabled child for me was in one of the Fun Song Factory videos where a girl with Down's is in the audience and is picked out by the camera to exactly the same degree as any of the other children. Not made a feature of. Not ignored. Just there, enjoying herself like any of the other children who'd gone to watch.

Patti said...

I also don't watch much TV, but all in all I agree with those who say disability is not treated realistically. It's seen more like an "inconvenience" or something that will magically disappear.

Thanks for posting this, Casdok. We deal with a major disability all the time.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Don't watch soaps, but I do love House!

I've been noticing that many children's programs seem to include disabilities -- most often this is a child in a wheelchair, whose only disability is non-functioning legs. I know lots of kids in wheelchairs, but all of them have additional challenges -- which makes the simplistic TV portrayal seem like including a token disabled person.

Angela said...

Most of the time when there is a blind person portrayed on tv It is just done so badly I have to laugh or cry
I think the TV directors should at least meet someone with the disability before portraying one on their show

Rhonda said...

love love love greg house.