For this week’s post, I am sharing my thoughts on the first episode of the In the Dark TV show. Everyone in the blindness community has so much to say about this. Since the debate is so big right now, I’m sharing my thoughts. Since the debate is so huge right now, I bet these posts will mostly interest my blind readers anyhow. I’ll be sharing with you points I think we should be discussing that happened throughout the show. I will also be talking a little about the novel God’s Bits of Wood because it includes a character who is blind. This blog is my own opinions and is not meant to attack the NFB. If these points are too direct for you, or if my post is too long and too all over the place for your liking that’s fine. Then maybe find another post of mine to read and come back next week. If you haven’t watched the show and plan to, watch it before reading this because I will be discussing certain details in the show. If you haven’t read last week’s post, go to the post before this one and read that one first. Before I get into today’s post though, I see I have new followers. Thank you. And thank you to everyone who is viewing my blog from across the globe. I appreciate all of you. It’s always been my dream for my writing to reach people around the world and it’s finally happening, all because of you.
I personally am a huge fan of In the Dark. I think the writers definitely did their research. I actually started watching it because I wanted to see how the blind character was going to be represented. The trailer of this show makes the actual show something it is not.
This next point is a big one we need to talk about. You wouldn’t understand this just by going off of the trailer. The trailer shows Murphy feeling someone’s face and all these blind advocacy people went off. I’ve gotten comments recently from the shows Facebook page asking me how I know things about a show I can’t see. I’ve read about the show from reading people’s comments and I watched the trailer and the first episode. In the show, Murphy actually tells this person she doesn’t want to feel their face because it is weird. True point that you would completely miss if you stop watching after the trailer. I said it in my last post, but I’ll say it again here. Blind people don’t go around feeling faces. And if they do, tell them a handshake is better. There are guys (yes it’s true, I knew one) who like to feel faces to check out girls and that’s not okay. I use my blog to educate, so if you haven’t dated her for a while, you have no business doing that. Another great point worth noting is that Murphy talks about how she’s not a dare devil which is the characters way of saying she’s not a superhero because she’s blind. She talks about how she doesn’t have a heightened sense of smell.
Another point we should talk about is how many blind children often get whatever they want. You will only understand this if you have been around blind kids long enough. Now I’m not saying this is always the case, but I’ve seen this. In the show, Murphy keeps telling her mom to turn down the heat because she’s hot. Her mother mentions how she’s not going to just so she can have what she wants. I think we need to talk about how just because the blind girl yells because she’s not getting her way, if the mom is cold, she doesn’t give in to the poor blind child like sometimes happens in real life.
Do I think this show is worth all the protesting going on trying to boycott it? Definitely not. Calm down, NFB. Let’s talk about blind characters in movies and novels and boycotting them. I’m not one for chick flicks, (I personally call it one but call it what you wish.) but there’s this movie called Ice Castles that nobody in this community (or in general) talks much about. The girl, Lexie, gets hurt figure skating and goes blind. This character goes through ups and downs, her family feels horrible about her accident, but it’s her sighted boyfriend who finds a way to help her skate again. She ends up doing well but the character’s struggles are clearly seen. Lexie’s not made out to be perfect by any means. The movie shows her fighting with her boyfriend too which is good in a way, because yes, blind people have relationships too. We laugh and we fight like you do with working eyes. Nobody in the movie, in comments or in reviews went, “Oh my God you’re sighted and you’re dating a blind girl! How sweet!” I could be wrong, so somebody please, correct me if I am. I never heard anyone talk about the blind girl in this at all like they are with In the Dark. By the way, the woman playing Lexie in Ice Castles is sighted. I’m pretty sure the actress is sighted in both versions of Ice Castles, but if she isn’t, someone please correct me. I really like how the blind woman is represented in both versions of Ice Castles. The 70s version is wicked different from the 2010 version! Anyone catch that? I’m such a Rhode Islander. I like different things about each version of the movie. Nobody hardly talks about that movie let alone went around boycotting it, did they?
Let’s talk about boycotting now and the mindset it is creating. Many people in the blindness community talk about how they would like to be treated like sighted people. I’m included in that conversation. My issue with boycotting over blind characters is that nobody sighted thinks about this until blind people who are outraged put the idea in sighted people’s heads. Some sighted people know of the NFB, but lots of them aren’t aware of them at all. I have never heard of anyone boycotting novels for blind characters. Have you? Let’s take the novel God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane for example. I’ve never heard anybody talk about the blind character, Maimouna, in this. I wrote a paper on this novel in 2013 for one of my English classes so that is how I am able to quote from the text. In my class discussion I talked about how I liked how Maimouna was treated equally even though she is blind, but guess what? Not many people gave blindness any thought. I spent some time researching what inspired Ousmane to create the blind character and haven’t found anything. Did the author have a blind family member or friend? Did they date someone who was blind? Nobody asks questions like this. When we read the novel, my professor never said, “Now Miranda, there is a blind character in the text we’ll be reading. Do you think you’d be okay reading this? The character may not be represented the right way.” Nobody thinks about how blind people are represented. I don’t like putting words in people’s mouth, but I’m pretty sure my professor never even thought about the blind character and if she was represented okay or not. Why? Because most professors, especially in mainstream settings, don’t even know what representing blind people looks like. Many people in the blindness community believe in boycotting movies but nobody ever says a professor should take a novel off their syllabus because they don’t like how that blind character is represented. If they have then please, send them my way.
Going back to my God’s Bits of Wood point, the novel depicts the character like this. “Maimouna was blind, but this is not to say that she was pitiable. Far from it. She held her splendid, smooth-skinned body like some goddess of the night, her head high, her vacant glace seeming to contemplate an area above people, beyond the world” (16). Nobody said not to read that novel because the blind girl is too perfect. Is Maimouna made into a goddess because she is blind or is it because she has a beautiful spirit? Nobody is asking or finding answers to questions like these. The text says not to have pity on her, yet she is described as being above others. Nobody has freaked out over the fact that she is placed above other people, the world even, and blind people aren’t above sighted people. How come nobody has ever discussed that or raised questions like this? If anyone has, please point me towards them. There is only one English professor I know who actually knows a little about the NFB and that is because she follows my writing. I’m blessed to call her a friend and one of my mentors. Nobody in the English department at the college I went to ever said anything about the NFB and honestly, I don’t think many people cared to learn or ask about it.
Turning it back to In the Dark, throughout the first episode there is a cop who helps figure out who killed Murphy’s friend. The cop introduces Murphy to his daughter who is also blind and Murphy tells him not to pity her because she is blind. This is so important. I liked when the women were talking about how they didn’t know what “Right there” was because they were blind. The cop was trying to help her find a chair and said something like, “Right there,” I’d also like to mention that while some stations offer this show with audio description, I don’t know how to get that with Verizon. Anyone who can help me, please reach out. I watched the show without anyone describing this. I don’t know what people are talking about when they say it isn’t described. The trailer wasn’t described though which is kind of funny because there’s a blind person in it, so I think that should have been. How many times do we have to tell sighted people we have no idea what “Over there,” or “Right there,” means? Can you say #Relatable? I sure can! Something else the show does well with is how Murphy uses her phone. She gets frustrated when her phone doesn’t do what she asks of it. They even show how her phone can read texts! Many people were freaking out over her parents working at a guide dog school. From what I understood, Murphy ends up working there to own up to keeping a check that was supposed to be given to the school. They’re showing blind people can own up to mistakes like people with sight. The only thing I didn’t like was how Murphy often had direct eye contact. Many blind people do not do that. In the show we see sighted people hesitating to give her a check as if they’re concerned she’ll lose it. This happens where sighted people think blind people can’t handle important things like this. It happened to me once with concert tickets. I said I’d take them but the person waited until she could give them to a sighted person going with me. We also see her manipulate a guy, saying she’ll pay him if he tracks her friend’s phone but she never pays him. This shows that you don’t have to just be sighted to have awful behavior.
My last point is a big one that few are talking about. This might be upsetting to some, depending on your culture. I realize I have followers from all over. We should be applauding this network actually. So many people in society think blind people don’t date, can provide sight into what a good relationship is or do anything physical. I’ll pose the question to any of you. If you are sighted, do you think people who can see are ever blinded by relationships? You can’t ever lose sight if you are sighted right? Or can you? It depends on whether you believe there is more than one meaning to the word sight. I mean it’s sad Murphy seemed to sleep around, but she also knew she shouldn’t with her friend because he was too young. The network did give her a brain. The fact that this network showed a blind girl having sex is huge. And a whole bunch of sighted people just freaked out over the fact that blind and sex are in the same sentence. So many people don’t believe that blind people should receive sex education which is so wrong. When you cannot see, you better be having sex education! Communication is important, and it is ten times more important when you are blind. This may be too blunt for some, but we need to talk about the tough stuff. I wrote so much because this debate is so huge right now. Here’s an awesome video by Bill Boules you should watch.
Now that you know what side I’m on, I want to hear from you. Which side are you on? Let’s talk. Find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley, on Facebook at Miranda Oakley or feel free to leave a comment right here on my website.
2 thoughts on “Should We Boycott In the Dark?”
Fascinating analysis. I think about diverse representation all the time in literature and in theology- But you’re right. Many times people don’t stop to consider the way we portray people with disabilities in books or in movies. I will refuse to read books that have offensive representations of blind people. I just don’t have time for that and there are so many good books to read. I’m glad that you were watching this show and telling me about it. I don’t have time to watch it especially because it’s not on descriptive video service. I usually watch things that have DVS.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you. I’ve heard the show is described on certain tv stations. One of my best friends is able to watch the show described.