Disability Stereotypes in Movies

One of the pet peeves of many people in the disability community is how people with disabilities are portrayed in movies and television shows. Very often, stereotypes are used for people with disabilities. People with autism or MS may not feel that the portrayal of their diagnoses represents their experience.

I am sympathetic with this concern. But I feel that I should point out that everything about movies and television shows is about stereotypes.

For example, I am an evangelical Christian. Every portrayal I have seen in entertainment of evangelicals is always a stereotype, usually negative. I am also a pastor and in the same way, pastors in movies are usually pretty shallow stereotypes. I suspect the same is true of portrayals of teachers, police officers, doctors, etc. It is just the way movies and television shows work.

That is not to say that studios should be satisfied with stereotypes. I would encourage them to interact with many examples of whatever type of person they want to include to deepen the portrayal. There is diversity within every diagnosis, profession, etc. and so not every person will identify with any one portrayal. But there is always room to go deeper and to avoid short cuts.

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