In Charles Riley's "Heroes of Assimilation", Riley talks about disability, and particularly how it pertains to civil rights, the media, disability assimilation, and various media audiences. Riley argues talks in depth about several different topics, but I found it very interesting when Riley talked about the two primary portrayals of disability in the media. Riley claimed that disabled persons are usually portrayed one of two ways. The first presentation is of a disabled individual that we should have pity on and feel sympathy for. The second is a presentation of the disabled person who is, as Riley says, a "supercrip". These people tend to be disabled individuals who have overcome the limits of their disability to go on and achieve ambitious goals. When reflecting on this, I found it to be very true, and struggled to think of a time in which I could personally remember a disabled person being represented differently within the media. I also found it very interesting when Riley talked about what it means to be disabled. Riley claims that over a 50 million American are disabled, and that this is a huge audience for media companies. There are, however, many different kinds of disability. This variety, in turn, affects how well disabled groups can be assimilated. Unlike race and gender, disabilities are harder to share share and unite simply because of the vast variety of them. I found this very interesting, and when reflecting on it, it helped me to better understand why civil rights movements that involved gender and race gained so much traction, while disability civil rights did not gain the same attention. As Riley says, disabilities are much more broad and varied, and this therefore makes them harder to assimilate.
The question is, what do we think about this? Do we agree with the Riley's interpretation of disabilities? Is this something that should have more attention in our culture? How else can disabled groups be portrayed in the media? How can we draw more attention to disability through the media? How much should we be concerned about being a voice for disabled people? What are the implications?