The Problem with Inspiration

Inspiration can be a beautiful thing. It can lead to great ideas and grand works. However, there’s a downside to inspiration, especially with how it is used within the disabled community.

If you ever meet me in real life, there’s nothing particularly inspirational about me on the physical level. You wouldn’t suspect, if you haven’t read my blog or followed me on Twitter, that I might be passing for neurotypical in front of you for the sake of social niceties. If I do decide to disclose to you that I’m autistic, I’m prepared to hear that I’m an inspiration for, when you get down to it, simply existing. In that statement, I have been transformed to a person to an object that is to be looked upon with pity. Just, no.

There have been two news articles, one national and one local, that reflect that statement. Recently, there was a story that circulated about, for all intents and purposes for this post, a neurotypical who took someone who has Down syndrome to prom as part of a childhood promise. One of the problems with the article, aside from the fact that it cast the NT as someone who took it upon themselves to take a helpless disabled person to prom, was that the person with Down syndrome was never quoted. Common sense would say that it would be helpful for the article to interview all parties involved; not so in this case. Realistically, the article shouldn’t have been written because what the initial act was was called being human. I do not know the motivation behind the article, whether it be for fame or for tugging at your heart-strings, but it’s not news. I related a story of my prom experience where, if I had been more open about myself at that time, I’d bet there would be an article on it.

Locally, there was a disability expo that, for the record, I considered attending but did not. An article was printed the following day saying that a disabled horse was there that was said to inspire the people who attended, again, for the sake of existing. I brought this up on Twitter and mentioned that in one season four episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there was a disabled pony who had the aid of wheels. Said pony had lines and was a part of the episode. Not once was his disability mentioned.* It baffles me that fictional horses did a better job of inclusion than real horses, which led to an online discussion with fellow autistic fans and followers.

What the first article is is what is called “inspiration porn” (click here for a TED talk on the subject). It’s something that I come across more often than usual, mostly from hanging out with the disabled community. I don’t wake up in the morning and tell myself that I was born to be objectified or go out in public and wish to be so. I don’t wear my disability on my sleeve in public, save for with trusted company. With said company, I’m treated just like anyone else and it’s refreshing.

As part of what I’m doing as an autistic filmmaker (no longer a film major as I have graduated) and budding advocate, I participate in dialogues about not just what we as an autistic community want and need but also with tweeting about how we wish to be treated, heard, and represented. Last night, this was a discussion as me and several others discussed the recent story about the one guy who was videotaped helping a disabled person eat and the ethics of videotaping such things (consensus states that consent from the disabled person, whose name was never given, was probably not given). It’s a work in progress, but it’s becoming part of my life goal.

I don’t have a problem if you say that I have inspired you, provided that it’s in reference to my film or writing style. However, if you pull that word out and it’s about how I simply exist, I am going to ask that you might want to reconsider. I have an article with a local art magazine, thanks to a friend. If this particular issue comes up, I’ll do my best to set the story straight. If anything, I’d prefer “influence” over “inspiration”.** In my head, “inspiration” is for objects while “influence” stems from humans and ideas. Last time I checked, I’m not an object and do not want to be treated as such.

*While I cannot say that MLP:FiM is a perfect show when it comes to this, it has done better than some long-running kid shows where the disability is given the Very Special Episode treatment. This will be covered in a future post.

**Preferred terminology stems from college art classes, especially the film classes.

Coming this Month: May 2015

The one new film that I’d like to see and review would be Avengers: Age of Ultron. If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll watch Tomorrowland. This is all while I take the next step in adulthood: graduation.

Yes, I’ll graduate college very soon (Saturday as of this post’s publication). The realization has quickly dawned on me the past few days. Before, I pushed that reality off to the side. Then it hit me, thanks to this thought from yesterday. My mind brought up the Blue’s Clues episode where Steve left for college and then I thought “Wait. I’m graduating college in a few days.”

I know that the ceremony will take an emotional toll on me. It didn’t help that earlier this month, the student exhibition was far too loud for me. Long story short, a friend checked on me and helped talked things through with me. I quit after ten minutes and went off and bought Clerks and Coldplay’s “X&Y”. What’s going to happen on Saturday is that one routine that I’ve relied on for the past fifteen years will end. Yeah, there will be tears. Sure, I’ll stay within the area; I’ve got some plans in mind but I’d like at least a week off. It’s been a fast semester and I just need a breather.

Meanwhile, I finished my senior project. It’s split into two parts due to file size. Click here for part one and here for part two. I realized too late that there were some issues in terms of phrasing that have since changed when I filmed them. The only footage of me that’s in it is in the first short (not going to lie, I’m pretty cute).

I have few ideas for some short films. Just need to get them down and shot so that I can still keep doing what I want outside of employment.

Finally, this happened on Twitter (the great thing) as well as this (the bad thing).

Movie Review: God’s Not Dead

The spine was staring at me at the library. I had heard reviews from both sides, mostly negative. On the other hand, my brother had said it was a decent film. I uttered those five words that spell certain doom: what could possibly go wrong?

A Christian college student has to prove to his atheist professor that God is not dead.

Before I get around to reviewing it, I need to explain the circumstances that led to this wasted evening. I was born and bred Catholic and went to a Catholic school my entire life. I was into the youth group and retreat scene when I was in high school. Where I stand now, I’m not going to say. My youngest brother saw this during it’s theatrical run with his apologetic club at school, meaning he paid money to watch it; I didn’t.

So, I put the disc in and I wanted to skip to the main menu. I hit the menu button and get the illegal operation symbol. OK, nothing I haven’t encountered before. I hit the skip button: illegal operation. I tried to fast forward through the previews. Again, illegal operation. This was not a good sign.

Before I talk about the religious aspects, there are several other things that need to be discussed. There is not one likable character in the entire film. Every single person is a stereotype. What little character depth is presented, it’s muddled by the multiple subplots that aren’t really resolved. The film tries to emulate Magnolia with having all these storylines come together but it fails on several accounts. A good chunk of the plots served to demonstrate the terrible events that happened to the non-Christians.

The pacing is so slow. Really slow. The Ten Commandments was fast-paced and that was a three-hour film. It didn’t help that I rewatched Bringing Up Baby the night before and that left me exhausted. Here, I was reenacting God from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and said “GET ON WITH IT!” Again, it’s because of the multiple subplots.

The presentations that Josh Wheaton (a name that sounds too similar to the one and only Joss Whedon) has when he is given his allotted twenty minutes to defend his position are too elaborate. Given the amount of time he has to prep for his lecture, there’s no way that he can create animations like that. There’s no template to my knowledge that’s as detailed as the ones shown, unless you have cash.

Getting into the religious parts, there are terrible implications. First, every non-Christian character has terrible things happen to them. Sure, Josh has bad stuff happen as well but it only goes so far as to have his girlfriend dump him. The atheist professor dies from a car crash, predictably. The liberal girl gets breast cancer and the doctor who tells her the news sets it up so that audience members can quote The Room. The Muslim girl is disowned. The list goes on.

Second, the professor is unethical. Why bother teaching philosophy if you’re demanding that every student subscribe to one view? There are multiple views that should be analyzed and discussed. In my “Faiths in Dialogue” class, we had Catholics, Christians, a Mormon, and a Wiccan. We all got along well and we didn’t need to need to defend our faith. If there was something we didn’t know, we said we didn’t know and that would be fine. This professor would be and should be fired.

Third, the Duck Dynasty cameos. I’ve seen some episodes in the past and I really didn’t care for it. I know that one of the members had been in the news for blasting atheism. I kept this in mind as one of the Duck Commanders graced the screen toward the end at the concert, which happened at the same time that the atheist died. If it wasn’t clear before, I stopped caring and wanted the film to be done.

I noticed that this was one of the few films that I had my arms crossed for most of the time. I don’t do that, ever. I keep my arms open to show that I am open to ideas. Here, I was fed up with the film as a whole, just like with There’s Something About Mary. After the illegible credits rolled, any family member that happened to be in the room with me said it was a great film. I sat in silence and left.

I talked to an atheist friend online. He said that it’s what you believe that will lead to what you think of the film. That’s really the best way to sum up the film. Personally, I cannot recommend this film on any level, regardless of what you believe. I read that it was given the MST3K treatment at an atheist convention; that would make this a lot more tolerable.

1/10

Turning Two!

It doesn’t seem like it but here we are. Two years old and just getting started. I know that in the past few months, you haven’t seen me post much aside from the occasional movie review here and there. That will change soon.

From April 2, 2014 to today, I:

Like last year, here are some of the stranger search terms that led people to my blog:

  • gotg yellow is the new black
  • “this beats citizen kane by miles”
  • lars and the real girl interpersonal communication
  • headless chicken mode
  • what album does labyrinth movie sync with? (the answer: David Bowie’s “Hours”)
  • fat monkey
  • equilibrium movie catholic answers
  • elephant my stat movie full (?)
  • fur film and fur movies (sorry to disappoint)
  • tarzan yell words (yes he does)
  • 1950s ice cream ads (not sure what you were looking for)
  • video about life in the 1980 (we’re talking about the 1980)

Eyes Wide Shut has a separate category for search terms:

  • eyes wild shut
  • eyes wihde shot
  • eyes without shut
  • eyes wide shoot
  • http cinema theiapolis movies on nine eyes wide shut

As far as what’s coming in the distant future, I have a post on Argo and one on my path to autism advocacy. Offline, I’m it’s one month until college graduation(!).

Again, I apologize for not posting as frequently as I used to but offline life came up and that was more important. Thanks for staying, reading, and commenting on what I have to say. Here’s to another great year!

Movie Review: Odd Thomas

I’m not odd. Sure, I’m strange but I’ve never been called “odd”. Oh, you’re talking about a different Thomas. OK then…

A man with supernatural powers tries to solve a murder and save the town from the forces of evil.

First of all, I haven’t read the series. I should be thankful that Odd was able to give us some narration throughout the entire film. Otherwise, I would be more lost than I was during the viewing in understanding how the world works.

After spending some time with Odd, it becomes apparent that he will straddle the line between emulating Buffy’s quips (one of the people I was with during the viewing referenced the Hellmouth) and trying to be suave, all at once. I couldn’t get a firm grasp on his personality or his dynamic between him and Stormy.

The use of CGI was mixed. The animation of the bodachs was very smooth and composited well. However, the green screen in the belfry was obvious, complete with a green halo around Stormy’s hair. If you look closely when Odd is doing his job, the cucumber slices are CG.

The plot does manage to get some surprises in, even if you called the climax in the second act. I hesitate to mention how there are some devices that are borrowed from another supernatural thriller, especially since Odd handwaves one quote from said film. I didn’t mind much.

Towards the end, one guy pointed out something about the bodachs that escaped the film’s established logic. Within the film, these creatures seemingly cannot be harmed anything within the physical world. And yet, the leader bodach (I guess, judging by the number of limbs) is destroyed in a fire. We talked about it and couldn’t figure out where or how it was justified, aside from a large explosion.

In the end, the film is an uneven blend of elements. It’s one that can keep your interest through the running time but in the end, it’s not one I’d watch again any time soon.

4/10