07
Sep
13

The Two-Headed Quarterback: Disabled Identity in Night Vale

Warning: this post contains discussion of medical and parental abuse, murder, and spoilers for “Dana.”

A small meta blog where the cooling rods are cold, the ableism is fantastic, and JJ Abrams ruins our favorite franchises while we all pretend not to weep.

Welcome to Space Crip.

::instrumental music plays::

Hello, listeners/readers/magick users who access the blog by astrally projecting themselves into the Internet and joining with the essence of Space Crip.

Like a good portion of the intertubes, I have become an avid listener of the podcast, Welcome to Night Vale, having listened to twenty-eight episodes within the span of three days. Partially because my laptop was in for repairs and partially because I surrendered to the half of my Tumblr dash that had been swallowed by the fandom. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show (and therefore did not get any of the references I made in the previous four paragraphs), Welcome to Night Vale is a fake community radio show set in a small desert town full of weird, unexplainable phenomena that the citizens consider just a normal part of everyday life. The show’s host, Cecil Baldwin, a lifelong Night Vale resident, comments on town matters, like a glowing cloud that hovers over the town and rains down dead animals, mayoral hopeful and five-headed dragon Hiram McDaniels, and the beautiful, perfectly-coiffed out-of-towner scientist named Carlos who’s trying to understand the town’s inherent weirdness.

Like all Quirky Towns, Night Vale is populated by Eccentric Townsfolk. Like Old Woman Josie who frequently hosts angels (all named Erika; all technically non-existent according to the all-powerful city council) in her home out near the car lot. Or John Peters, you know, the farmer who grows heavily-subsidized imaginary corn. Or the focus of today’s post, Michael Sandero, high school senior and quarterback of the Night Vale Scorpions. Continue reading ‘The Two-Headed Quarterback: Disabled Identity in Night Vale’

20
May
13

Star Trek Into Darkness: Able-Bodied Angst and Abrams’ Anti-Intellectualism

Warning: this post contains discussion of genocide and spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness.

Compared to most popular film franchises, the Star Trek fandom has waited a long time to see the Enterprise take to open skies again. In an industry where popularity and success are capitalized on as quickly as possible, four years was an unusually long gap between a blockbuster summer film and its sequel. During the four year wait, some fans (especially those of the Prime universe) grew increasingly cynical about the second reboot film’s ability to move beyond the flashy origin story of its predecessor and mature into a more contemplative series about the intragalactic, ethical repercussions of one ship’s actions. This subset of fans grew ever more disheartened each time the director, writers, and producers opened their mouths, typically to comment on how they weren’t making a movie for Star Trek fans, why a female character needed to be shown in her undies while an accidental shot of Chris Pine’s clothed butt needed to be edited out in post-production, or how the Captain Kirk of TOS was a womanizer uninterested in love.

I have to admit, I was one of those fans. I tried to be optimistic, but once the details of Benedict Cumberbatch’s role were spoiled, I became a Trekkie fatalist. I may have spent an evening listening to “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis on repeat while cursing J.J. Abrams’ name for killing the dream I dreamed of a faithful reinvigoration of the Star Trek franchise.

Yet, even before my descent “into darkness” caused by casting spoilers, I knew that the film was going to fail me from disability perspective. I knew it would fall into one of the most egregious ableist tropes in film and television. As soon I saw the promo stills, I knew what was going to happen.

Continue reading ‘Star Trek Into Darkness: Able-Bodied Angst and Abrams’ Anti-Intellectualism’

30
Mar
13

Fantastic ableism and disability: the Amnesia Girl

Warning: this post contains brief discussion of lynching, sexual assault, and caregiver abuse. Spoilers for season 2 of Grimm and Once Upon a Time and the series finale of Chuck.

When Grimm and Once Upon a Time premiered in fall of 2011, there was a lot of buzz about there being two shows on the schedule featuring fairy tale characters in modern settings, capitalizing on the popularity of revamped fairy tales sweeping Hollywood at the time. Based on this similarity, media outlets and even fans were apt to put the shows in competition with one another. Obviously, only one could survive the season. The competitive spirit faded as the season wore on and the shows demonstrated how very different they were from each other. Once Upon a Time proved itself to be a family-friendly show committed to the power of True Love, while also being a spiritual heir of Lost (the difference being that Once actually answers the numerous questions it raises; unfortunately, everyone in the audience has figured out the answers long before they are revealed). On the other hand, Grimm is a gritty noir procedural where love is vulnerable to secrecy and the chaos of the universe, while also bearing a structural resemblance to Buffy: the Vampire Slayer (the difference being that Slayers are women oppressed by patriarchy but empowered by magic; Grimms (and Nick specifically) bear great institutional power and are empowered by magic, which can make them scary as all hell).

Continue reading ‘Fantastic ableism and disability: the Amnesia Girl’

23
Feb
13

“Conventions of Space and Time”: Toby is a douchebag, but not for the reasons you think…

“Conventions of Space and Time” marks Community‘s second exploration of Abed’s autism/undiagnosable-ness through Inspector Spacetime (the first being “Virtual Systems Analysis,” which you can read about, at length, here.) Like “Virtual Systems Analysis,” “Conventions of Space and Time” deals with the perceived threats to Abed and Troy’s friendship—except this time it’s Troy who’s worried about losing Abed to a new relationship. When the study group attends InSpecTiCon, an Inspector Spacetime convention1, Abed finally meets Toby Weeks, an online friend and “arguably the biggest Inspector Spacetime fan in the world.” Troy is instantly jealous of the rapport Abed has with Toby, but little does he know how far Toby is willing to go to keep Abed for himself…

Continue reading ‘“Conventions of Space and Time”: Toby is a douchebag, but not for the reasons you think…’

20
Jan
13

Reaction Post: “An Enemy of Fate”

Warning: this post contains spoilers for the Fringe series finale.

As the credits rolled on the final episode of Fringe, I knew one thing for sure: I did not like the ending. I felt somehow dissatisfied with it, rubbed the wrong way. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something Not Right at the core of this happy ending. After some reflection (e.g., browsing on Tumblr), I realized I was mostly upset about Donald/September dying rather than living on with his son. Which, okay, I guess is what the show was going for. They want viewers to be upset when a sympathetic character dies. But, for me, this went way beyond the feels and right into crip rage.

Why? Because this bittersweet happy ending was sweet for Peter and Olivia and Etta (the white, heterosexual, able-bodied nuclear family), but bitter for Michael and Walter (the neurodivergent contingent of the Fringe cast this season).

Continue reading ‘Reaction Post: “An Enemy of Fate”’

04
Nov
12

What’s got me Rumpel’d?: Once Upon a Time wasn’t enough

Warning: this post contains discussion of emotional abuse, ableism, and rape. Spoilers through “The Doctor.”

Additional note: Moff’s Law presiding, as usual. If placing Once Upon a Time within a larger social context of racism, ableism, and sexism is upsetting to you, please don’t read and leave nasty comments. I’d hate for you to waste your free time on something that frustrates you so.

About a year ago, I wrote a post about Rumpelstilskin from Once Upon a Time, noting the ableism and racism in his two personas while living in the Enchanted Forrest. If you’ll recall, Rumpelstiltskin the Town Coward walks with a limp and a cane, while Rumpelstiltskin the Dark One is able-bodied with dark, glittery skin. Meant as an introduction to the character, I didn’t say much in that post besides, “You know, racism is the most-likely influence behind one of OUaT’s biggest villains being called ‘the Dark One’ and having the start of his evilness coincide with the darkening of his skin.” In other words, Rumpelstilstkin as the Dark One, while being portrayed by a white man, embodies certain racist tropes that hold up whiteness and lightness as good and darkness as bad or evil.

Today, I wanna expand on that post by looking at how those two personas (Town Coward and the Dark One) relate to Baelfire and the women in Rumpel’s life.

Continue reading ‘What’s got me Rumpel’d?: Once Upon a Time wasn’t enough’

26
Oct
12

The “Ethics” of TNG-era Imperialism and Ableism

Warning: this post contains discussion of suicide and euthanasia. Spoilers for the TNG episodes, “Ethics,” “Too Short a Season,” and “The Loss,” and for the DS9 episode, “Melora.”

Image: a screencap from “Ethics” of Worf lying on a bed in sickbay, looking up at Riker.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Ethics,” Mr. Worf acquires a spinal cord injury while on-duty that partially paralyzes him, leaving him unable to walk. By Klingon tradition, he is obligated to commit ritual suicide (hegh’bat) because he can no longer stand to face his enemies in battle. Dr. Crusher and a visiting doctor with a shady ethical record work to cure Worf, while Riker battles with the role Worf has asked him to play in the suicide ritual—namely handing Worf the knife. The episode comes down to Worf undergoing an experimental procedure that will either cure or kill him. The Status Quo being God (despite the promise the series made when it killed off Tasha Yar), Worf is cured and back to his able-bodied self by the end of the episode.

It’s fairly obvious what the Official Disability Rights Opinion™ on this episode would be: the Klingon tradition of hegh’bat is wrong. People with disabilities can live fulfilling lives if society lets them. Picard and Riker articulate this Opinion™ quite plainly in the episode.

And while I certainly agree that hegh’bat is wrong, this is Star Trek. The Official Disability Rights Opinion™ isn’t enough to understand what’s going on. We gotta bring in critiques of racism, colonialism, and the Western concept of the independent individual—critiques that come from the work performed by women of color in transnational feminist theory and activism.

In other words, this post is gonna acknowledge that Klingons don’t appear to have a very progressive position on disability, but mainly it’s gonna turn around and look at the hypocrisy in Picard and Riker’s moral high ground regarding hegh’bat. And to do this we have to look at one of the major problems I have with TNGContinue reading ‘The “Ethics” of TNG-era Imperialism and Ableism’




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