How does Hollywood depict people who are disabled and handicapped? Does hollywood enlighten viewers or mislead them? This is open for discussion! How would you as a teacher treat a student with schizophrenia, mental retardation in class?
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After Lionel Barrymore was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis, he yet had major roles in the movies of the 1940s such as the irascible Doctor Gillespie. Later, after World War II, there was a movie made in 1946 about veterans of the war and how they dealt with life after returning to America. One man who acted as a soldier who had, in reality, lost his arms in a training film when a defective fuse detonated an explosive while he was holding it. Harold Russell played himself in the movie The Best Years of Our Lives, based on his autobiography. He received an Oscar for his performance. Russell went on to act in two more films: Inside Moves (1980) and Dogtown (1997).
In the cases of Barrymore and Russell, the disabled actors were treated with realistic and dignified portrayals. Born on the Fourth of July (1989) starring Tom Cruise is another realistic and unsympathetic portrayal of a soldier paralyzed in the Vietnam.
I think of movies like Rain Man and I Am Samas being both a bit exploitative but also as treating the disabilities as realities. These two in particular are enlightening and humorous, rarely bitter and malicious. I'm confident, though I cannot think of any right at this moment, that Hollywood has also made made movies in which those with disabilities look evil or pathetic or ridiculous.
The first Hollywood depiction that comes to mind is the movie Radio starring Cuba Gooding Jr. I would say that their depiction of Radio as a mentally retarded one was pretty accurate.
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