Friday, July 31, 2009

Lack of Drama?

First, a quick confession to make: I haven't seen Adam yet. I very much want to see the movie, but haven't had the chance due to other events in my life.

That said, I was reading the review of the movie, and was particularly struck by certain sections:

Autistic and Asperger's characters in movies are only beginning to move beyond the "Sidney Poitier phase," in which members of previously despised or misunderstood minorities are presented as symbols, saints or seers -- whose most important function is to provide other, more relatable and "normal" characters with the opportunity for moral and spiritual growth.


I understand that filmmakers are caught between a rock and a hard place in depicting this issue. If you make a thriller in which a serial killer or a child molester just happens to be a person with Asperger's, it would be seen as resuscitating ugly and untrue stereotypes. So instead we get a subdued, minor-key weeper, utterly conventional and glum, in which an Asperger's/non-Asperger's couple teach each other valuable life lessons.

The thing is, there's no shortage of potential for good movies with Aspies (or even all-out auties) as major characters. I'd love to one day see a movie (dramatized or otherwise) about the founding of ANI or the ASAN. Hollywood wouldn't even have to dramatize them much (except maybe for "believability"!) to get a good, if quirky, film out of either.

Of course, the two movies would necessarily be very different in tone -- ANI is very much a community-building organization and its story would be much more of a heartwarming, "feel good" movie than the ASAN's (which, by contrast, is very much an "dissatisfied underdog(s) try to change the world" story).

Perhaps a story of someone just going through life, dealing with constant descrimination? Voice-overs are excellent tools for narrating a character's thoughts, even if the actor "can't speak" about their opinions "on-screen". This sort of film could be excellent in exposing the ways our society subtly (and often not-so-subtly) discriminates against autistics.

I could go on and on... but, in the end, I know that I'll never make these films. I'm a researcher at heart, not a filmmaker.

On the other hand, there are others who I hold great hopes for... although I doubt that any of the above will be the movie(s) to show a true image of autism to the world.

I wouldn't hold great hopes for someone if I didn't have confidence that they could come up with better ideas than I can, now would I?

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