I normally don’t follow the Oscars, but this year’s nominations include a short film with a Deafblind character. Depictions of underrepresented groups in movies influence how the mainstream public treats us. Feeling Through features a Black teen taking advantage of a Deafblind man, perpetuating the dangerous “Black criminals” stereotype.
The portrayal of deafblindness also advances harmful stereotypes. How the Deafblind character travels with a cane, shops, and manages money does not represent Deafblind people. The New York Times mistakenly praised the film for being “a window into the largely unknown world of deaf-blindness,” which saddens me. Celebrating Feeling Through adds to the discrimination facing disabled people at work, school, and the community.
Most film critics miss the racism and ableism in Feeling Through, so I created my own film review with a disability justice perspective.
You can use Feeling Through to teach people to catch racist and ableist messages, skills all of us dedicated to human rights should have.
One last thing. Some film critics claim Feeling Through is the first film to cast a Deafblind actor in a leading role, but that’s incorrect. The 1919 film Deliverance featured Helen Keller cast as herself in that film about her life. Let’s continue to remember Helen Keller.