Posts Tagged ‘fantasy

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’

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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’

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’

09
Jun
12

Fantastic ableism and disability: managing the monster within

Previously on Space Crip: disability is a social construction. Who is considered disabled depends on culture. In fictitious cultures with sci-fi and fantasy elements, disability can take strange forms, like lycanthropy or not having any supernatural powers in a magical culture.

Today, I wanna talk about characters whose disabilities stem from their struggle to contain their inner monster. Once upon a time, these characters (who are almost always men) followed their primal mythical creature instincts, causing untold death and damage to the Human and monster world. But now, after going through some intense treatment, they have control over their monster instincts and can live like a normal Human. Well, almost. In order to stop the monster from resurfacing, these characters must follow rigid routines and limit the kind of interaction they have with other people. These characters are in a constant state of maintenance; if they slip up or someone interrupts their routine, they could turn into a monstrous killer once again.

For monsters-in-recovery, the impairment is being a mythical creature. Not all mythical creatures are disabled, but monsters-in-recovery are because preventing a relapse and loss of mental control “substantially limits one or more major life activities,” to use the language of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Spoilers for all of Being Human UK and the first season of Grimm.

Continue reading ‘Fantastic ableism and disability: managing the monster within’

03
Apr
12

Fantastic ableism and disability: Werewolves

Warning: spoilers for Being Human, Harry Potter, and True Blood after the jump.

Seeing as we’ve already covered the messy theoretical definitions of disability, it’s time to expand my earlier list of characters with disabilities in sci-fi/fantasy to compensate for the fictional universes of sff. In other words, rather than listing characters who would be considered disabled by 2012 USian terms, I’m gonna look at characters who are treated like or share common experiences with disabled people here on Earth. These are characters who might be completely able-bodied by today’s standards but experience oppression similar to ableism due to being werewolves or squibs or telepaths. You ken? Maybe not. Okay. Well, you know how on True Blood public attitudes toward vampires are compared to heterosexism (i.e., homophobia) like through that sign in the opening credits that says “God Hates Fangs” and vampires only being able to get married in Vermont? And you know how in Star Trek conflicts between species stand in for racism? Well, what I’m gonna be talking about is like those two things but with disability instead of sexuality and race.

Image: on the left, a screencapture of George Sands (portrayed by Russell Tovey) from Being Human. George is a white man in twenties with short hair. He wears glasses and a maroon shirt. He has blue eyes and prominent ears. On the right, a screencapture of Remus Lupin (portrayed by David Thewlis) from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Remus is a middle-aged white man wearing a button up shirt and tie covered with a sweater. He has scars on his cheeks that look like scratch marks.

Let’s start with a fairly popular and well-recognized metaphor: lycanthropy as HIV/AIDS. We find two salient examples in Remus Lupin of the Harry Potter series and George Sands from Being Human. George and Remus are rather similar: smart, sensitive, British, not the best looking guys in their circle of friends, best mates with serial killers. George speaks six languages and Remus is a powerful wizard and the best teacher Harry had at Hogwarts, but neither can find meaningful, long-term employment because of their “conditions.” George is hesitant to put down roots and make serious commitments to the Human world because he fears being discovered. Remus, on the other hand, can’t put down roots because he’s always run out of town whenever someone finds out he is a werewolf. Continue reading ‘Fantastic ableism and disability: Werewolves’

20
Feb
12

Disability in my sci-fi?

Hyperbole and a Half meme

Image: Background: a cartoon of a blonde woman punching the air with her fist and holding a broom in her other hand. "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!" is handwritten above her head. Foreground: the caption: "LIST ALL THE SPACE CRIPS!"

Over Christmas dinner, I was telling my family that I wanted to write about disability in science fiction. My future brother-in-law, who is a big sci-fi fan, was doubtful that disability was covered often enough in sf for me to study it. (He had previously asked me if there was enough material to warrant doctoral programs in women’s studies. Apparently, he hadn’t heard that women and girls make up a little over half of the world’s population.) After that, I got to thinking about it and started to compile a mental list of characters with disabilities and disability themes in sci-fi/fantasy. In the interest of appealing to my fairly concrete minded brother-in-law, this list is limited to characters who would be read as having a disability in the US in 2012 rather than characters who demonstrate that disability is on a spectrum and culturally relative. The latter will come later. Without any further ado, I give you my rudimentary rundown of disability in sci-fi/fantasy.* You are forewarned: here be spoilers. Continue reading ‘Disability in my sci-fi?’




Space Crip

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