Prompt: What is your overall response to Dolmage’s review of disability myths? Do you think these myths are still prevalent in 2017, or have representations improved? Which myths stick out to you from films, books, tv shows, or other forms of media you’ve seen or read? Do you disagree with any of Dolmage’s points? (It is okay to disagree!)
In “An Archive and Anatomy of Disability Myths”, DoImage argues against myths and stereotypes about disability perpetuated in popular media. Almost all stereotypes of disability have negative connotations because disability has been viewed as a negative idea for much of history. Some myths view disability as a problem in a person that is inherently unnatural; others view disability as divine punishment for a deviant society and people’s neglect for nature. DoImage provides examples of the myths in literature and film, linking them to books or television shows.
I enjoyed how DoImage connected disability stereotypes with popular media: it made his arguments more convincing and relatable. Two of the myths were particularly interesting to me. The first was “disability as sign of internal flaw,” which claims that a person’s physical disabilities can become part of their identity and are indicative of internal character flaws. The second was “overcoming or compensation,” which claims that disabled people can make up for their impairments with hard work or special talents. These two myths reminded me of Dr. Gregory House from the television show House M.D. Dr. House is a brilliant diagnostician who walks with a cane due to pain from a leg infarction. He is a cynical narcissist and his harsh rationality and unorthodox diagnostic methods create much conflict between him and his colleagues. Much of the show revolves around House’s injury and his addiction to painkillers. It is strongly suggested that both House’s misanthropic nature and his medical brilliance come from the pain that he feels from his injury: he would not be who he is without his injury because his disability is a part of his identity.
I believe that DoImage’s disability myths are still prevalent in 2017. Although attitudes towards disability are changing in modern times, it is difficult to erase the association of disability with negativity and unnaturalness that has been perpetuated through much of history. Some myths about disability, especially “disability as object of pity and/or charity,” are especially prevalent today (in the form of “inspiration porn”). Hopefully, through good public policy and increased awareness about disability, representations of disability will continue to improve in the future.