Characters on the Autism Spectrum In Movies
April is Autism Awareness Month, so let's talk about characters in movies on the spectrum.
I have a little bit of a problem with the way some characters on the spectrum are portrayed in movies...
Don't get me wrong, I'm super happy that we get representation in movies. It's just the WAY that we're represented kind of irks me.
In a handful of movies that feature autistic people, or people on the spectrum, the entire movie revolves around a completely neurotypical person (normally functioning adult) who has to deal with this person on the spectrum. And while the storyline shines a light on autism, it's main focus is the neurptypical character and how they overcome their douchey-ness and actually come to see the autistic person as they are: a human being. You know, what they should have been doing in the first place. But apparently, this concept is so foreign that it translates into ACTUAL PLOTS OF MOVIES.
Ex: Rain Man, Molly, The Black Balloon
But most movies just focus on the 'normal' character and how they have to deal with the 'autistic' character. While the autistic person is part of the plot, they are never the main character. They are only there to further the plot along. They ARE the plotline.
Ex: House of Cards, Cries From the Heart, David's Mother, Silent Fall, The Innocent, Mercury Rising, Bless the Child, Dear John
Another 'autistic plot' that pops up: How raising an autistic child will ruin your marriage/relationship.
Ex: Backstreet Dreams, Family Pictures, Miracle Run, Breaking and Entering
Slowly but surely, there have been some movies that actually feature the person on the autism spectrum as the main character of the movie and what they have to deal with in every day life. This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion. Educating people by showing them what it's like through our eyes. Not through the eyes of someone who isn't on the spectrum.
Ex: Mozart and the Whale, Adam, My Name is Khan, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Story of Luke, White Frog
In the future, I hope that autism and autism spectrum disorders will be so understood and accepted that we can just have an autistic character in a movie, and not have it be a big deal. Not have to devote half of the movie to that person's 'disability' being a plot line.
Ex: Power Rangers. Billy Cranston told us he had asperger's and briefly explained it in about less than 2 minutes, and the movie went on as normal. It wasn't swept under the rug in any way, it was just a "This is what I have, this is what it means, and that's me." We accepted it, and the movie continued on.