By William H. Grignon
How do you feel about movies and TV shows that try to portray characters with vision loss? I usually try to avoid them like the plague. They tend to be either nauseatingly sentimental or clueless and indifferent to the actual skills and abilities of a person with vision loss. But these media representations can be important since they are not only the reflections of the assumptions and expectations of their creators, but they also reveal how we might be viewed in the sighted community. It might be helpful, therefore, to familiarize ourselves with the most mainstream of these media products, if only to arm ourselves to debunk the myths and misconceptions perpetuated by many of these shows.
A contributor at the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) has put together a list of 129 movies and television shows that feature main characters that are blind. See this shortened URL: tinyurl.com/blindmovies/. The list has all the predictable titles: Longstreet, Blind Justice, At First Sight, Scent of a Woman, and Butterflies Are Free. It also contains many lesser-known and foreign films. The contributor gives you all the info about the show and includes a pithy commentary on how the blind character was portrayed.
IMDB also offers a list of movies and TV shows which feature a blind woman. See the shortened URL: tinyurl.com/bwmovies/. This list has some movies the first list missed.
The 1991 Australian film Proof, featuring Hugo Weaving as a blind man haunted by a sense of betrayal and brittle insecurity, probably tops my admittedly short list of movies featuring persons with vision loss. Sadly, this Proof is not available at Blind Mice Mart’s Movie Vault. The Proof version that is available there is the 2005 mess with a scenery-chewing Anthony Hopkins and a simpering Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Peer Engagement Team is always looking for topics for its extremely popular monthly discussion calls. Maybe we can gather to discuss the shows and movies we’ve seen, how they depicted persons with vision loss, and how these depictions have affected how society sees us and how we see ourselves.