I’ll start this post by saying depending on what you consider long, (everyone has their own version of a lot of reading) this post may be a longer one. If you don’t have time for that, I’d say come back to this post when you have the time to read it. Recently the trailer and show In the Dark by the CW network is receiving some heated controversy because the actress playing the blind woman is sighted. Certain blindness advocates even started the popular hashtag #LetUsPlayUs because they felt an actual blind woman should play that character. My thoughts on the trailer and the first episode of the show will be broken up into two posts. If you don’t have time to read this entire post, let me provide you with some takeaways. In my opinion, the show is nothing like the trailer. I think the trailer makes this show seem like one it is not. My second takeaway would be that this show actually does a great job at representing a blind girl. The blind girl has a job, owns up to her mistakes and says how blind people shouldn’t be treated differently because they are blind. She even says feeling faces is weird which is definitely not something you would get by judging this show only by its trailer. I’ll explain more in my second post. When we only go off of the show’s trailer, we’re simply assuming everything about it. We hate when sighted people do this to us. Why would we as a community take this show so far with assumptions? Lastly, if you aren’t a fan of the show, that’s fine, but there’s no need to attack others who like it. I’ve seen quite a bit of attacking going on on Facebook over it towards lots of people, my twin included. I’m not here for this kind of behavior. For any of you uneducated sighted folks, yes, blind people can be mean too. I don’t actually have a twin for anyone who might be curious. I call one of my best friends, Amber, my twin because no joke, we are about 70-90 percent the same with a few obvious differences thrown in. If that’s all for you, I hope my takeaways were helpful. Should you decide to stick around for this post and the next one, thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
The NFB (National Federation of the Blind) held a protest over this show. Read about it here.
If you look on Facebook you will quickly learn that this show is creating some rather heated discussion. That being said, while I welcome different opinions, my blog does not allow for disrespect so if you can’t be kind in expressing why you agree or disagree, find another place to share your comments. A video about the protest can be found below.
For those unaware, the trailer shows this “blind” woman as a drunk, depressed person who is horrible to her guide dog. She can be seen feeling someone’s face. Watch the trailer here.
I think this show has similarities to Bird Box in that it has the potential to support negative stereotypes about blind people, but only if sighted people choose to develop that mindset. I can understand the concern over this show in the sense that often when sighted people come across a blind person, they get it in their head that every blind person is the same. This can sometimes get frustrating and exhausting. The thing is though, not every sighted person responds that way. I personally didn’t like how the blind character, Murphy, mistreated her guide dog and used her blindness to get ahead rather than waiting her turn. I think though this comes down to the characters personality. Some blind people are upset because they think this character makes it as if all blind people are depressed, drunk, incapable people who do nothing with their lives. This is because the “blind” woman just naps and eats candy and drinks too much. in the show the woman does say that her life would be just as much of a mess if she could see, so I’ll give the writers of the show that. What I don’t like though, is how they have her feeling someone’s face like that’s a typical thing blind people do. This one I think does support negative stereotypes because uneducated sighted people think those of us who are blind go around feeling faces when we don’t. I have felt few faces, but only if the person takes my hands and shows me. Even then, I just sort of react like, “Uh…Alright. We don’t do that.” I think it can be quite awkward, actually. I mean, how awkward would it be if I said, “Oh hey Kaylan! You’re my new reader. Great, nice to meet you! Let me feel your face since I can’t see.” No way. If any blind people try to act that way, you tell them a handshake is better. Trust me, there are those blind guys who think feeling faces is okay to check out girls. No no. While we’re on the subject, I do use my blog to educate, so unless you have been dating for a while, you do not need to be doing that. So yes, the few faces I touched I never volunteered myself or I should say, my hands. I will say though, when I went to CMA Fest in 2008 in Nashville, meeting Jack Ingram was a meet and greet you can bet I’ll never forget! He took my hands, put them on his face and said something like, “Hi, I’m Jack.” He was nice, but it was interesting to say the least.
Every advocate has their own opinion here, but I don’t think people should be bent out of shape over this characters behavior because sighted people can be rude, drink too much or be depressed. Why make everything about blindness when sometimes it really isn’t? I’ll mention this in my next post too for anyone who might miss it or need this said again. There’s a saying that was created in the disability community called Inspiration Porn. My issue is, people get upset about a blind character being too bubbly, too happy or too friendly. Too perfect. You have people ranting about how blind people aren’t always bubbly flowers who can’t be touched or hurt. Okay, I’m with you there, but you have a show like this one where the blind girl is depressed with some issues and you say now all the sudden the show is showing sighted people that all blind people are depressed? No. Whether the blind character is real with human issues or happy and a positive person, certain blindness advocates will have issues with either one. Some advocates are going as far to attack others who don’t have complete issues with the show. There’s no need to take it that far.
I will say though that I think protesting the show is a bit too extreme. And this, folks, is the exact line that will make or break my blog. And I’m okay with that. Honestly, this post is probably worth more of a read to blind readers anyways since the debate over this show is so huge right now. Lately any blind people who say protesting is too extreme are getting a lot of crap for it. Here’s the thing with the NFB. You have people who really love it or you have those who really hate it. And then you have those few of us (or at least it seems that way anyhow) who don’t completely hate it but don’t completely love it either. There are a few people including myself who have respect for the NFB’s work to help make sure we can use technology, etc. but we believe sometimes their advocacy goes a little too far. I agree with those few blind people asking, why isn’t all this energy put into unemployment issues?? Okay let me say since people are so heated about this, in a way demanding actors play disabled people is helping make sure qualified people get jobs. At the same time, why not turn the focus to unemployment in all areas? Why not talk about ways to make sure staff are better trained at doctor offices and hospitals to deal with someone who is blind? Right now 70 percent of blind people are unemployed.
I personally don’t think having a sighted woman play someone who is blind should always be turned into a bad thing. Sure, they might not know what life as a blind person really looks like, (See what I did there? Yes, we say words like look and see.) But they can learn a little about what life might be like for us. I know, I know. Doing something with your eyes closed is not the same. I think that blind actors should be included in shows and movies, but I also don’t have an issue with people without disabilities playing the part. For me personally, I believe if you are going to have a sighted woman play a woman who is blind, make room in your filming budget for her to receive training on using a cane, a dog, etc. Sure, she’s not going to do it like us, but she’ll never do it like we do. She’s sighted!!! Something else we should take into account is the fact that mobility teachers we often speak about during conversations like these are sighted. They had to receive training and go blindfolded for part of their training. But they are sighted and we learn from them don’t we? The sighted sometimes really do teach us, even if they might not quite get it like we do. So I say let us teach the sighted and let us be or learn how to be open to the sighted teaching us. Let’s find a way to learn from one another. I don’t have the start all end all answer on how to do that, but why don’t we put our brains together and come up with something?
Did you watch the trailer? Is the NFB taking this too far? Let me know your thoughts. I’ll write about the show in my next post. Miranda ❤