Posts Tagged ‘episode recap

25
Apr
12

Episode Recap: “Virtual Systems Analysis,” the Fears of Abed the Undiagnosable

Spoilers for Community through “Virtual Systems Analysis”

Patterning characters after popular perceptions of Asperger’s syndrome has become an easy way for television writers to show that a character is quirky and super-smart (see Bones, Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, and Sherlock on the BBC programme). Very rarely however do these characters experience any of the downsides of being on the autism spectrum. They don’t have to deal with discrimination. Failing to fill the expectations of a neurotypical world is met with canned laughter rather than abuse, loss of autonomy, or murder.

Image: a screepcapture of Abed Nadir in Community’s “Virtual Systems Analysis.” Abed is a thin man in his mid-twenties of Palestinian-Polish descent. He has short black hair and brown eyes. His wears a white t-shirt with a blue and purple flannel shirt over it. He holds a binder to his chest while carrying a messenger bag slung over his shoulder. Abed’s head is quirked to his right as he stares unsmilingly.

Abed from Community, however, portrays being ambiguously “on the spectrum” (to use his own words) beyond comedy. Okay, I know what you’re thinking (I really can; it’s my Disability Superpower), “Why are you so pleased about a disability being a source of tragedy? Isn’t this the kind of thing we want to move away from?” And to you, hypothetical reader-people, I say, yes, kinda sorta. I obviously don’t want stories where disability is OMG the worst thing ever and limits characters from ever doing anything. But I also don’t want stories where disability is just a source of comedy. Let’s be real: having an impairment and being disabled can really suck sometimes, but other times it’s really fucking funny. I want stories that acknowledge that. Community does.

(Community also acknowledges that autistic people of color exist. Characters with quirky-smart-Asperger’s are almost uniformly white. So, not only are those portrayals ignoring the discrimination faced by people with ASD, but they’re feeding into this stereotype of ASD as something that only happens to white people. Which is deeply, deeply frelled in a world where autistic people of color are killed for being autistic people of color.)

I wanna take a microt right now before we get into the nitty-gritty to address something important. Talking about autism spectrum disorders on a disability blog is messy. Some autistics don’t consider themselves disabled; others do. I’m not on the autism spectrum, so it’s not my place to take sides in this debate. I’m gonna talk about Abed’s experience of ableism as a character with an ASD who also has unspecified (and likely undiscovered) mental impairment. Not all of Abed’s Abed-ness can be contained under the label of autism–that’s what makes him Abed the Undiagnosable.

Continue reading ‘Episode Recap: “Virtual Systems Analysis,” the Fears of Abed the Undiagnosable’

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21
Mar
12

“The Menagerie”: Introducing the Original Space Crips

Warning: spoilers for “The Menagerie,” “Requiem for Methuselah,” Star Trek (2009), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Image: a screencap of "The Menagerie part 1." Dr. McCoy and Scotty push Christopher Pike's wheelchair out of a conference room aboard the Enterprise. A security officer in a red shirt stands guard behind them.

As anyone who’s watched at least a minute of the show has likely noticed, Star Trek: the Original Series (TOS) was shot on, let’s say, a limited budget. All sorts of money-saving measures were put in place. Remember Elaan, the monarch with magical tears? Her bodyguards’ armor was made out of place mats. Too obscure? Okay. The transporters were created to avoid filming expensive shots of the Enterprise landing on each planet the crew visited. Obviously, some of these cost-cutting measures were more successful than others. “The Menagerie” two-parter was one of the more successful efforts, at least according to the Hugo Awards who awarded it Best Dramatic Presentation.

For those of you who don’t know the story, “The Menagerie” was cobbled together at the last minute to prevent production from shutting down. Gene Roddenberry took the original pilot (“The Cage”), which had a completely different cast than the series with the exception of Mr. Spock, and incorporated it into a new story which framed “The Cage” footage. You really have to wonder what was going through Gene’s head when coming up with the frame at the eleventh hour. “I know! We’ll have Spock steal the Enterprise and kidnap a cripple!”

Continue reading ‘“The Menagerie”: Introducing the Original Space Crips’

13
Mar
12

Episode Recap: “Clarence Montgomery,” Alcatraz

You wouldn’t know from looking at the first seven episodes of the new series Alcatraz, but Alcatraz prison incarcerated black inmates–in segregated cell blocks. Finally, after being delayed two weeks by an unholy conspiracy between NASCAR, rain, and the FOX scheduling department, audiences got to see the other side of the color line at Alcatraz. In “Clarence Montgomery,” we follow, you guessed it, Clarence Montgomery, a newly returned ’63 who might be one of the most important Alcatraz inmates we’ve met yet. In the interest of shielding innocent eyes from spoilers, follow me behind the jump. Continue reading ‘Episode Recap: “Clarence Montgomery,” Alcatraz’




Space Crip

People with disabilities? In my sci-fi? It's more likely than you think.