Charles Riley's "Heroes of Assimilation" immediately caught my eye with its opening statement, "One in every five people on the planet has a disability and, because of that, is shamefully misrepresented in the fun-house mirror of the mass media." For most, disability is a very sensitive subject whether it be feeling uncomfortable about the topic itself, or knowing and having an important person in your life that is disabled. I completely agree with one of the very first points Riley makes, in which in today's publications, programs and films dedicated to people with disabilities present such twisted images. Furthermore, people with disabilities have always been sensitive to being stared at rather than embraced, which is true even in today's world, not just through magazine ads or films. Some say it is natural instinct to stare, but as my own personal opinion, I feel as if it is very rude to stare.
I really enjoyed reading all of the different topics that Charles Riley covered while explaining how the media transform disability: pinpointing the target, the politics of representation, the consumer model by the numbers, the common cause and the passing lane. In my blog, I will cover two of the ones that struck me as most interesting: the politics of representation and the passing lane. The politics of representation provides us with the early legislative history of disability policy, as well as certain Acts that have been passed by Congress in regards to disabilities. Within this section, James Charlton, a Chicago-based activist wrote something that truly caught my attention, "Disability is socially constructed." What James Charlton means by this is that if a particular culture treats a person as having a disability, the person has one. Secondly, the category "disability" includes people with socially defined functional limitations. I am not someone who can exactly say who is disabled and to what certain degree. However, it was shocking to find out how deaf people themselves insist on not having a disability. The second section I found interesting in Riley's article was the passing lane section where it speaks about those who refuse to be identified as disabled. This isn't due to 'being in denial' as society might deem it to be, but rather because they have the right to privacy and also fear discrimination. I completely with this statement because I would not want to be discriminated against and be treated differently just because
The media can have negative effects while misrepresenting certain individual's ways, in this case, individuals with disabilities. Do you believe there is a different (perhaps more positive) way that the media could represent disabled individuals? If so, which ways? Do you believe that the media currently represents disabled individuals pretty accurately or not? If not, is it something we should be worried about? To what extent? Also, throughout the article (and my blog), I found myself stopping and asking--is it "being disabled" or "having disabilities"? Do you believe there is a difference between the two? Should there be a more concrete and clear (perhaps universal) definition of just one or the other?