Whenever I am talking about blind people, I am using that as a term not only to describe the obvious, but to include those who have multiple disabilities that have blindness as the primary disability intersectionally. Comments will be surrounded by asterisks within the blockquoted text.
Since I couldn’t travel to New York City in order to attend the protest against CW’s newest show In The Dark, I thought I’d use social media to highlight exactly why this show is disgusting and problematic, and why it should be boycotted. I don’t think a blind actress should replace a sighted actress at all in this instance; I think the entire show should be obliterated. Not only is yet another disabled character being played by someone without a disability, but the entire synopsis is degrading. I took the time to sit down with a friend while she described the 3 minute and 30 second trailer for this show, and these are the observations I made:
- The trailer for a show about a blind girl is not audio described… you think about it and tell me what the problem is, the irony.
*Well, not only is it lacking in audio description, but deaf-blind people can’t access it because it doesn’t have captioning in Braille. We miss out on a lot of films and TV shows because of this.*
- The actress feels faces, which is just about the most irritating stereotype that exists surrounding the blind. In case you didn’t know, we don’t do that. It’s weird, and we possess a lot more social competency and awareness than you give us credit for. This stereotype is almost as infuriating as the belief that we are all depressed, helpless losers with no lives. Oh wait… CW has that covered too…
*Actually, some, not all, blind people do this. I know some deaf-blind people who feel other people’s faces, and some blind people in other countries might do this as well.*
- In the Dark portrays the blind girl as a depressed, helpless loser with no life. She just sits around all day, complains, wallows in self-pity, yells at her guide dog, eats a ton of unhealthy food, drinks a lot, and smokes cigarettes. Clearly, she is blind, and can’t aspire to anything else. Blindness symbolizes the end to all happiness and success, right CW? Thank you for further reinforcing the burden mentality, the idea that only a freak occurrence can save us from ourselves. God forbid we’re content, responsible, self-sufficient, and educated.
*It is true that blindness is the number one most feared disability compared to other disabilities, but no disability is better than the other. Anybody can have a depressing life that is not related to blindness at all and not have any willingness to succeed, so blind people certainly have nothing to do with it. Yes, it’s harder when you have a lot of challenges, such as having a secondary disability or mental health issues, but at least we’re trying to overcome them. Tell me if the common person is able to differentiate between flawed personalities versus blindness characteristics.*
- The actress flails a cane around like a child with a baseball bat, or any new toy, because, let’s be real, to her, it is only a cool toy. This is not representative of a mobility tool, nor proper technique. It’s embarrassing. We do not navigate by wildly thrashing our canes around until we find something. Orientation and mobility skills take years to learn. This little show the actress puts on is disgraceful. This also applies to how she works her guide dog. She does not work him properly because, well, SHE IS NOT BLIND!
*This is why we need genuine performers with the minority or characteristics that deviates from the social norm being represented. If you want to portray an African American, don’t hire a white person who dyes their skin black. Similarly, don’t hire a woman dressed as a man to portray a transgender man! So yes, working with blind people can help tone down the techniques so that it doesn’t seem so overly exaggerated. But truth is, people say that professional blind performers need so many accommodations it becomes a burden… that’s a load of bull! Still, people would say the show was too boring if it didn’t have all these exaggerations.*
- In the first few seconds of the trailer, she immediately knocks something over. While we do find ourselves in a fair share of accidents, spills, and so forth, we are not clumsy idiots. We make human errors just like anyone else. It’s disturbing that the first thing CW wants its audience to watch in the trailer is a blind person making a mess.
*Everybody makes mistakes, and anybody can be a total cluts. Taking away senses doesn’t reduce cognition or heighten other senses, in most cases, but remember that she was supposed to be drunk in the first place. So, blind people who drank would most certainly knock things over.*
- The blind girl is incredibly rude, and purposely uses her blindness to push her way to the front of a line. Watch out everyone, I’m ruthless. I’m blind, so I’m not capable of waiting my turn. Blind people are an impatient species with no compassion. Give me a break!
*Many blind people have entitlement issues, and in fact, many people in other minorities have this problem. Impatience and lack of tolerance is partly to blame. Yes, we don’t want to act like we’re better than you, we just want equal rights as you. We can do this by educating, not demanding.*
- The desperate blind sweep with her arms? Really? We don’t have to feel our way around our own houses. We are intelligent enough to know where everything is. Then again, she is drunk all the time, so maybe I should cut the girl some slack.
*Why repeat yourself? This is a lot like the point where blind people knock things over. We have good proprioception, and if sighted people could just stop being so light-dependent for a few days, they, too, can develop body coordination. It’s not a superhuman ability to know when we’re home just by feeling the turns of a vehicle, although I am a transhumanist and advocate for enhanced sensory augmentation. We set things up so we know where they are, and we think about what we are going to do before we do them. Sighted people just look and do without thinking. This is why I do not like it when they move things around without me knowing, or leave doors open where I can get a prapfall.*
- Wow! We go from being incapable of having sex in the public opinion, to being utterly promiscuous, because it’s impossible for us to enjoy the same things as our nondisabled peers, we have to fall under one extreme or the other. CW has managed to fetishize blind women to do us the honor of overcompensating for low expectations. Yes, we like sex. No, we will not sleep with everything that moves like this girl. We have standards, too.
*This is very flawed, especially since society sees people with disabilities as being entirely sexless, and yes, that may be true to some extent, but that is not always the case. In fact, there is a lot of concern that blind women are at greater risk for sexual assault. And, it is common for them to date and have sex with other blind people.*
- The blind girl only has 2 friends. But wait… plot twist: one of them dies. I can promise you that most of us have more than 2 friends, because we are fully functional members of society who can socialize. Add a zero or two to that number of friends and CW may be slightly more accurate.
*Having many disabilities, or having things that do not pertain to a disability, can make it hard for people to socialise, so we are not all airheads and bimbos, or social butterflies.*
- The blind girl makes eye contact with everyone. Now, while we are able to look in the direction of the person talking to us, we cannot make full eye contact, based on the fact that we are, you know, blind. Eye contact is something that we physically cannot give.
*Of course blind people can, and should, give eye contact whenever you can. For people whos hearing is dominant in one ear, they end up turning in that direction, which makes eye contact virtually impossible.*
- The blind girl has a stereotypical job; she helps out at a guide dog school. This is probably because blind people can only pursue careers in blindness-related fields. They are unable and unwilling to work in mainstream positions, or be integrated into communities at large. We enjoy subminimum wages, sheltered workshops, and blindness-related fields. Couldn’t she at least work as a masseuse?
*This is true of any minority group, and blind people are certainly no exception. Vocational rehabilitation agencies probably deflected any dreams of blind aspiring performers that they would never succeed. Besides, blind people can become entrepreneurs, and there should be no shame in it as long as it is an honest job.*
All in all, the creators of In the Dark condone, and praise, ableism at its finest.
They degrade the disabled community by casting a sighted actress who can’t use a cane, but gives consistent eye contact. She enforces pre-existing stereotypes, and couldn’t care less as long as she gets a pay cheque. This is a pathetic excuse for a disabled main character. Blind people are not depressed, we have way more than two friends, and, shocker, we don’t cut lines and cheat.
*This is why there is this thing called insporational porn. It’s not a surprise that 70% of the nation’s blindness population is unemployed compared to about 5%, which is just really too bad because blind people have talents that go beyond using things technology-related, and I mean technology as in computers, not medicine, which is another existing stereotype. Sighted people often use wheelchairs to cut lines at airports, and some also try to pass their pets as service animals. So, you’ve got a problem with people taking advantage of our disabilities to get your way? If you want a really exciting show, get yourself a cast of real blind people who do not feel degraded to be in such a flawed premise to work together in solveing a mystery or something, but seriously….who’d want to watch a boring show if the sighted actress were perfect in every way. Yes, some blind people have done some of these things that were contradicted. Sheltered, ruthless, friendless, promiscuous, sexless, face-feeling, depressed and drugged couch potatoes with no life. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and in fact, most of us aren’t. We have more important things to worry about here than quibble about things we haven’t yet watched in its entirety and are fussing over without cause.
So, bottom line is, stop being such a baby and go watch the show. Then you won’t come off sounding like an idiot.*