99 ProblemsThe daily struggles of urban living as a quadriplegic explained one by one. It's so much more than not being able to find a parking space.
99 Problems — #15 If Orange Is The New Black Then Disability Is The New Orange
Like a litter of adorable adoptable puppies, my wheelchair attracts physical contact, head tilting and high-pitched voices from all walks of society. After fifteen years of being paralyzed I’ve become accustomed to the attention that comes along with adversity.
In fact, I once thought I was special.
Now it seems disabled people are everywhere, especially on TV and on the big screen. Sometimes the performances are cringe-worthy and other times they’re legit. And while I have no desire to be in front of a camera (I enjoy criticizing and being criticized safely from my living room, on the other side of the TV) I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the slightest jealous of these people because they’ve found a way to cash in on their “specialness.” And that’s what you do when you’ve been given adversity—you turn it into an asset.
So maybe I’m not so special.
As more disabled people start to step up and step out into the spotlight, I realize I’m more like those in wheelchairs than I want to believe. Still, I continue to write because I’m hopeful that someone may take interest in my story one day (and I can properly communicate it).
In the meantime (and while continue to type and then immediately hit the delete button), here is a list of disabled people taking
my the limelight:
Who & What: Kevin Michael McHale in “GLEE”
The Bit: He’s an actor that plays a paraplegic that can never fulfill his dream of being a dancer, so he sings.
Thoughts: For an able-bodied person he sits down real good.
Who & What: RJ Mitte in “Breaking Bad”
The Bit: He’s a drug dealer’s son who happens to have Cerebral Palsy.
Thoughts: RJ does actually have Cerebral Palsy, although it’s not as pronounced as demonstrated in the show. Rumor has it he would stop taking some meds to display the real effects of CB on his body during filming. Ballsy.
Who & What: John Hawkes in The Sessions
The Bit: A man that is paralyzed from neck down from childhood polio and seeking a sex therapist.
Thoughts: Pretty amazing movie. Disabled people and sex is such a taboo subject. But I can tell you it happens. In fact, sex has improved my injury-related Osteoporosis. How’s that for natural remedies? [Cringe] You’re welcome.
Who & What: Francois Cluzet in The Intouchables
The Bit: Rich quadriplegic interviews for caregivers and then develops a relationship with one that is life changing for both parties.
Thoughts: If only all caregivers were as cool and strong as Omar Sy.
Who & What: Blair Underwood in “Ironside”
The Bit: He’s a cop that was paralyzed from a bullet on duty and forced to retire, only to be appointed a special consulting position to stay on the scene.
Thoughts: It was a remake. And the series was quickly cancelled. Enough said.
Who & What: Michael J Fox in “The Michael J Fox Show”
The Bit: He’s a dad with Parkinson’s Disease.
Thoughts: With all respect of the bravery it takes to let people see your vulnerabilities, I found it hard to understand what Michael was saying (nevertheless watch him tremble). Maybe more of a reality show of PD would have been better than a sitcom? Regardless, he is brave for putting it all out there.
Who & What: Jamie Brewer in “American Horror Story: Coven”
The Bit: She’s the witch with Down’s Syndrome that can read people’s thoughts.
Thoughts: She’s excellent. I’m jealous. When I watch her I don’t even see her disability.
Who & What: Tiphany Adams, Auti Angel, Angela Rockwood and Mia Schaikewitz in “Push Girls”
The Bit: A realty TV show about four paralyzed women living in Hollywood.
Thoughts: Just as this show starting airing previews I was putting together a book proposal. At first, “I was like, “nooooo,” because I was toying with the idea of sharing my story and it had seemed like all these ladies had somehow beat me to it. And then I watched the show… and quickly realized I could not be anymore different than any of these girls. Not to mention the show seemed so coerced. Eh. Not totally impressed but can applaud the effort (from afar with, like, a golf clap).
Who & What: Hillary Baack in The East
The Bit: She’s a deaf actress that most recently played Eve, a deaf character.
Thoughts: I love Hillary but I’m totally biased because we’re friends. And even though we both live in Los Angeles we live in different zip codes, which is practically like living in different states. Regardless, we managed to meet up for lunch a couple weeks ago. That’s right a wheelchair person and deaf person having lunch together, just the two of us. Sounds like a sitcom, right? Well it’s real life. Our life. Love Hillary. Love her passion. And love that she’s a wife, a mother, an actress, a writer and breaking through all the stereotypical boundaries.
And the list continues…
Do you think disabilities are being portrayed the correct way by the media? And what actor/role model has effected your perception of disability?