One Paper Down!
Pony of the day
Finished and handed in my Feminist Media Studies final. Rather than comparing and drawing conclusions from two films, I ended up analyzing Adam, a 2009 romantic drama whose title character has Asperger syndrome.
I applied (or did my best to apply) bell hooks' idea of oppositional viewership, wherein a marginalized spectator can return the gaze of her oppressor and derive spectatorial pleasure through analysis and deconstruction.
One of the things that kind of fascinates me about representations of developmental disability (including but not limited to autism) is the pervasive notion that proximity to disabled people induces some kind of nebulous moral "betterment" in non-disabled people. As I said in my paper:
"The precise mechanism by which exposure to a developmentally disabled person somehow makes a non-disabled person "better" is not something I have been able to completely grasp, even upon multiple viewings of Rain Man and other similar melodramas such as I am Sam. There seems to be an aspect of "Protestant work ethic" connected to the idea, manifest in the concept of betterment via masochism: The Puritanical notion that undertaking unpleasant or difficult tasks somehow "builds character." Spending time with a disabled person who requires (or is believed to require) extra attention, care, and sensitivity, or who is otherwise difficult to relate to, is a chore. So it must be good for you."
I can't come up with a better explanation than that. How is it that developmentally disabled people, with our purported "innocence" and guilelessness," are somehow so "inspirational?" Really. I'd love to unravel this trope, because it's everywhere.