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The New “London Time” Look!

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WOW! Now this should give you a little idea of the look and impression of what “London Time” is all about! Of course I  pitch it in words, as a modern day, 21st Century “Ironside” meets “Lethal Weapon” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations” and an authentic movie hero with a disAbility, that Detective London is more of a Dirty Harry character that just happens to be using a wheelchair. Just as I wrote about in the previous blog post “A Real Father’s Day Promise “.  I also try to convey what kind of movie I am making! What it is like when Hollywood allows a minority to represent themselves – instead of faking the minority status of an actor, writer, and director! This is giving paraplegics and other disAbilities the same respect as other minorities with an authentic voice, vision, performance and overall AUTHENTIC REPRESENTATION of paraplegics and those with a disAbility in general and the impact and impression this can have on American cinema – one that is not stereotypical, nor some “statement” film that is all about the disAbility. I do not ignore the fact that my character is a paraplegic but I also do not focus on it! “London Time” is a commercial independent movie, that I will produce with a blockbuster look, elements, and potential! But these are just a few, passionate, enlightening (to some) and empowering (to all those with a disAbility) words, and sometimes a picture, an image can have the impact of a thousand words! I hope this mock promotional poster does that! It is not an official movie poster!  I have not even produced the film yet! I have written the original screenplay but, as the icon and the credits at the bottom of the poster spell out, the screenplay has been an official finalist in the only film festival screenplay competition I have entered it into, and no casting of these major characters have been done, which brings me to this important disclaimer:

This mock promotional poster for the ”London Time” film project in development, is a compilation of altered images from the internet. The most important of these are that of the three main characters: Detective London, which is authentically represented by actor and paraplegic performer with a disAbility, Tom Muxie. I did alter some of his appearance to include wearing a police badge and the informal, plain clothes, and kind of a rough look that mirrors his personal, inner self that I have developed for the character of Detective London. The other two characters are taken from promotional photos from a popular American television show that includes both of them prominently wearing police badges and followed some of the look that I have created for those characters. Marci Waters is the old friend of Detective London who returns to Dallas in order to accept the position as the new lead crime scene investigator of the forensic department. She is smart, strong, and sexy! Detective Richmond is the younger partner of London working for the homicide department and is a little more formal in his appearance than his senior partner Detective London. I use these images because they fit the characterizations described and they prove to be realistic characterizations since they are similar to those from the popular television show. THEY ARE NOT associated with “London Time”, me or my company Abilities United Productions in any way. This includes Tom, which I invite you to click on his name to learn more, whom I think is a fantastic actor, and is associated only as a friend who has graciously permitted me to use and even alter some of his image to provide the look that I am looking for in Detective London. I want everyone to know just as Tom completely understands that this role has not been cast and as I have promised over the years to many actors who have contacted me that there will be open auditions for this role once I have secured funding for the production. I do hope and encourage Tom to be there and all actors with a disAbility that fit the characterizations that I have described here and else where, and can authentically represent with the same or similar disAbility as that of the character of Detective London. The final reason for using these images is that I really want to give the impression and look of my feature film project that goes beyond merely words and will have a strong impact that most of us associate with pictures and images and the fact that I can not economically afford to hire a photographer, costumes, props, or models to produce such a promotional look at this time! As soon as I can afford to produce a real promotional poster for the “London Time” film project I will and will remove this one. Until then I hope this just gives a general but distinct impression of what I mean when I describe what “London Time” is about!

Meanwhile, if you have a comment on what you think of this new look over the previous image of merely being a Detective London police badge graphic for “London Time”

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then please add those comments below! I would love to read them!

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A Real Father’s Day Promise

Sunday was Father’s Day and I couldn’t help but think about all of the father’s with a disAbility. Unfortunately, I do not have any kids, but I do have a lot of great nieces and nephews! I don’t think there is an Uncle’s Day but I do have a father and he is great. Thinking about gifts for Father’s Day and as usual, because I love movies, I often give DVD’s for presents to everyone for every occasion, birthday’s, Christmas, etc. This got me thinking about the kind of DVD’s that I or you would give dad for Father’s Day!

Action movies come to mind first. And some of my favorites are “Lethal Weapon”,

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“Die Hard”,

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and “Dirty Harry”!

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They all have great characters – Detective’s Murtaugh, Riggs, McClane, Callahan, and some action packed sequences! These are guy’s guys! The good guys who sometimes do bad things for the greater good! For them it is not about being “politically correct” or kissing up, even if it would further their career!

Now, what if your dad had a disAbility? How do you think he would feel like if there was a movie about a good guy but not one to be messed with and had a disAbility just like him? Someone he could relate to and someone who could “be representin’ those with a disAbility” – showing how those with a disAbility are NOT like the stereotypes most movies portray! And how empowering would it be if the writer, director (yours truly), and the actor in that action movie all had the same or similar disAbility as that character? That would be real – even Hollywood real!

That is who Detective London is in my feature film project, “London Time”! He is the Detective Murtaugh, Riggs, McClane, and/or Callahan in a wheelchair! MUCH more than an Ironside just sitting in a wheelchair solving crimes! Detective London is a 21st century homicide detective who is also a paraplegic using a wheelchair. He also is one who says exactly what he thinks and feels regardless of what others think! This is most obvious when it comes to the news media whenever he gives a press conference or is ambushed by reporters like a bunch of paparazzi on celebrities at LAX. And he also speaks his mind when it comes to forensic science, ever since the fame of television shows like “CSI: Crime Scene Investigations” he feels it portrays that only high tech investigations using all the latest technology can solve all the world’s crimes, when he believes it is his street investigations, interrogations, and gut check instincts that catches criminals.

Detective London is a lot more than talk as he is also fully in charge wherever he goes and is full of action when necessary, such as when he is interrogating a suspect, involved in a car chase, and in a huge gun fight all of which can be found within the “London Time” screenplay!

But London is more than just a homicide detective. He is a very interesting man who adapts to situations when necessary and will adapt them to his will when possible. He is fighting his own demons as a widower and a father of a young daughter who was killed a few years earlier, which he is often reminded of nearly every night, he is good looking and women do notice him – beyond just being a wheelchair, he occasionally cares about others – mostly victims but also family and friends, even though those are limited, and as we find out in as the story evolves he is also a romantic, all of which makes a complex and interesting character. You can learn more about Detective London, Marci Waters, and Detective Richmond at the website “London Time” page at: http://AbilitiesUnited.com/londontime.html

I make this promise to all dads and especially those with a disAbility, and for the many who will acquire a disAbility in the future due to an accident, illness or as time goes on and they age, I WILL PRODUCE “London Time” with a professional independent production budget (of at least $5 million) and secure professional distribution contracts so that the movie has inclusion in the marketplace with the same fair and equal marketing and exhibition that all other professional independent movies have, and therefore give the audience the same respect watching it rather than having to search for movie that is given a direct-to-dvd treatment.

And I promise to keep the Detective London character, portrayal, and representation true to the descriptions given here and you will finally have that action hero who works for the greater good AND is also one who isn’t like everybody else, who has his own limitations and challenges and yet works with them and around them to save the day, get the girl, and be the every man’s hero!

And with the proper industry support, it is possible that as soon as next Father’s Day you could buy your dad movie tickets to see this incredible and authentic representation of a great character who happens to have a disAbility and will be heralded by guys with or without a disAbility will make them feel like they can be a hero too! And how cool will you be if you bought you father a “London Time” Blu-Ray or DVD for his birthday or Christmas?

I am trying to create a “London Time” movie poster with Photoshop to use for promotional purposes. As soon as I get a basic one done I will update everyone and post it as a new blog entry. Meanwhile, visit http://AbilitiesUnited.com to see updates on what is going on as well as links to the Facebook page, the new “Turning Point” in American cinema page, the Authentic Representation in Hollywood page, make comments, and stay up to date on the latest in the “London Time” progress toward being produced!

Thanks for joining in and supporting this mission and helping me provide an authentic voice, vision, and representation in movies and television!

Two Great Examples This Week

This past week (June 13-19, 2010) in the news we have seen a couple great examples of people with a disAbility not only be recognized but accepted and included as equals in their field. The first I want to highlight is that of Zach Anner who has auditioned for a television show on Oprah’s up coming network. He is a 25 year old man living in Austin, Texas and with cerebral palsy. I first saw his story on ABC News website at: http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Broadcast/conversation-zach-anner-oprahs-star/story?id=10929884

Zach - ABC News

At the time of this story Zach had a commanding lead of a million more votes over the nearest competitor of the many other hopefuls who set up an audition video of their own on the website Oprah set up for this contest. BUT that is no longer the case and his nearest competitor is getting very close!

SO PLEASE VISIT OPRAH’S NEW SITE AND VOTE FOR ZACH!

Here is Zach’s submission on her site: http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=5615&promo_id=1

I strongly recommend you visit the site and vote for Zach! But regardless if you vote or not – I also suggest you watch his video submission. It is hilarious! Some of it is him punching a little fun at some of things that are challenging for him due to his specific disAbility, and some is just general humor like his fashion show idea! In reality, he proposes to do a travel show in which it isn’t all a polished perfect vacation trip as most travel shows portray! Instead showing real people going on travel vacations where some troubles, if not a lot of troubles are bound to happen as they usually do. But also showing how they overcome them and still have a great vacation!

10 years ago I developed “Independent Travels” a television series that explores the accessible places and activities of travelers with disAbilities. A couple of times I nearly had it produced – the last time was back in 2004 when I had an established production company with their own small but professional studio in Phoenix, AZ, real interested in my presentation (a hard copy in a binder and an electronic on in a Power Point Presentation on a CD) and although we were still in discussions on a couple of show formats (have a host or two introduce segments of travelers on their travels – or – having the host(s) actually going on the travels) that I had not yet decided on, we were about to begin on a regional level when they backed out at the last minute in order to spend all their available funds on the purchase of the largest studio in Phoenix, complete with lots and sound stages! It was a bummer and I went back to focusing on my first passion – storytelling as screenwriter and director of feature films! But even since then I have gotten a lot of contact from other people with various disAbilities wanting and/or attempting to do the same, a travel show featuring travelers with a disAbility!  A distant second in frequency to those with a disAbility wanting to their “life’s story” (do not get me started on this – not only is it so common but it is ALSO Hollywood’s excuse for being authentic because even though it isn’t written, directed, or performed by those with a disAbility – it is based on a real person! Look and see for yourself that over half of the limited movies that featured a person with a disAbility are based on a person’s real life story.)

Zach - Oprah Audition

But this is not about my experiences with this topic, but the fact that travel and entertainment are two of the main categories (according to Packaged Facts) the disAbled consumer market focuses their significant $220 billion of discretionary spending power (based on 2001 numbers) – and combining the two – travel with television – is a brilliant business model and one that needs to be given a fair chance to succeed! And Zach is the next one of us attempting it – so I ask all of you to VOTE FOR ZACH and encourage everyone you know to VOTE FOR ZACH!  

The second great example in the news this past week is high school graduate, Eric Durquette, who was an honor student, a musician, was the class Salutatorian giving a speech at graduation, and also lives with autism.

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Here is the ABC News report that showed a video of Eric’s speech which you can watch from their page on the following link:

http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Broadcast/student-autism-class-salutatorian-delivers-high-school-graduation/story?id=10933858

It was great example of what can be done when you and those who love you believe in you as he accomplished a lot with the added challenges that he has to live with because of autism. He gave credit to his parents and also to his teachers and fellow classmates whom he said, “went out of their way to always make me feel wanted.” He made a very funny and yet also very serious commentary on the “experts” who told his parents when he was very young and diagnosed with autism, that he should spend his life in an institution, and here he was at 18 years of age, “humble and proud” to be the class Salutatorian and has been “accepted at every institution of higher learning” that he had I applied for!

The quotes that I loved the most where ones that all of us with a disAbility feel and I think is great universal advice as Eric said, “Do not allow yourself or others to be defined by your limitations but rather [by your] abilities.” I think it is very important that he included and in fact began with “do not allow yourself” as a key – too often we focus or define ourselves by our limitations and regardless of why we may do that – free yourself and focus on what you can do and what you do well, and what you love to do regardless of how well you do it! And do not allow others to define you by your challenges or limitations. Every human has some kind of limitations and those of us with a disAbility it is more dramatic and/or more noticeable. I have to completely agree with Eric who also said to “Never underestimate your self.”    

It was also great to see his classmates at the graduation so supportive and accepting. Now if we can only get Hollywood to be the same in their acceptance and inclusion of those of us with a disAbility in the creative roles, the non-stereotypical images, and the fair and equal opportunity to prove we can and should have our own voice, vision, performance, and our own heroes, with this overall authentic representation in movies and television! We can do it – if only they would accept us as these high school students and the nearly 3 million voters for Zach on Oprah’s site! American society, our classmates and co-workers, family and friends all accept us and want to see us do and be all we can be – so the last frontier of acceptance and inclusion for those with a disAbility seems to be Hollywood!

Passion For Images of…

The movie and television images of people and issues play a huge part in our culture and can be good or bad as we are often reminded of when people comment on a film or show. And as the saying goes, you can satisfy some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but you can never satisfy all of the people all of the time! In the motion picture and television industry the reality is that nearly everything has some form or some degree of controversy that is bound to be associated with every movie or television program. But some are so outrageous and so obvious and yet at the same time so accepted that it is nearly unbelievable! And so it is when it comes to talking about diversity, minorities, repressed voices – nearly always those subjects will include race, gender, sexual orientation, and sometimes age. But what is often dismissed, ignored, or just openly rejected is those with a disAbility.

This Is FACT!

And throughout this blog, my website, Facebook, Twitter, comments on articles from other websites, I talk about all the ways, all the reasons, results, and what should be in an industry and society that believes in fair and equal opportunities and representation for all. Of course not all disAbilities can represent themselves as writers, directors, or actors, but many can and still according to Hollywood we are all in the same category – if disAbled they consider that unable – and those of us with a disAbility have to accept whatever portrayals they give us. “Glee” is the perfect example of this, especially for paraplegics like myself. Here we get a paraplegic character and according to some Hollywood reactions we should be happy and not complain about it. We are included in an ensemble cast of nothing but diverse characters – yippie! And what this is saying is that here is a character about a person with a disAbility but a person with a disAbility cannot portray him. They do not have the talent or the ability. I wonder if any of their other diverse characters had this same problem? As soon as there were enough protests about this “Al Jolson in a wheelchair” portrayal, the producers did their best to play it off saying that they did not find any actors who were paraplegics who could act, dance, and sing as well as able bodied actor Kevin McHale. And then all of a sudden they found Zack Weinstein, an actor who does have the talent and ability and is a paraplegic – in real life, but was only offered a guest role on one episode! That should calm down and end the protests from the disAbled community! Yeah, right! Instead they should bring Zach’s character in full time and then have the Artie character’s parent get a job out of state where they have to move. Then keep the real actor who is also a real paraplegic portray and represent those with a real disAbility!

I could write a character who was a paraplegic to add into any current television show – and it doesn’t have to be one that is all about diverse characters, filled with stereotypes and teenage angst that all of a sudden brake out in song and dance! AND I would love to do it – rather than talk about it! I mean I love talking about my characters and my screenplays and my short stories that I am adapting into screenplays – and I would love even more to direct and produce them for the big or small screen because I am really sick and tired of talking about how Hollywood treated and continues to treat us! So the next step is getting the people I need added to produce “London Time” and prove all that I talk about. An it is way past time – not only is film project completely developed but look at the website, this blog, Facebook, etc., and you can see that I am more than prepared – and in fact more prepared then an overwhelming majority of other indie filmmakers out there looking for production funding, Hollywood stars, distribution contracts, etc.!

disAbility = Charity?

Whenever I search for anything disAbility related it is amazing to me how many organizations are set up as charities! They are there to help find a cure for the disAbility, or if you can prove you do not have any money or resources some are set up to help with equipment or modifications to live with the disAbility. The overwhelming majority of these are charities and not-for-profit organizations – so looking for companies or organizations set up for profit, part of the American entrepreneurial spirit that in some way represents those with a disAbility is hard to find. Another reason, along with those that follow in the next subsection, why having Abilities United Productions and my films represent paraplegics and others with a disAbility is inspirational in itself, not to mention, just the right thing to do!   

Civil Rights – disAbility Rights

From the Equal Employment Opportunity Act to the Americans with Disabilities Act, to those that are just accepted good etiquette, common sense, polite gestures all aimed to help those with a disAbility maintain some dignity, have some equality, and made to feel like we are important in life, as human beings, regardless of our personal challenges BUT even with all the charities and organizations mentioned above and these civil rights we have been included in,  THE ONE THAT WOULD HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT in the lives of those living with a disAbility and be truly inclusive are non-stereotypical images, authentic portrayals and representation in movies and television, that unfortunately, Hollywood ignores or dismisses completely…for now!

Seriously, just think about it for a minute. What would it be like for a kid or a teenager or even an adult with a disAbility – and for simplistic sake, let’s say a paraplegic, a wheelchair user – to be able to see a paraplegic character in a leading role, who is not stereotypical, is kind of a hero, a really good, or rather a really good at his job but also a real bad ass type of police detective, a “Dirty Harry”, or a “Die Hard” John McLane type character who happens to use a wheelchair?

Can you imagine what that will be like for those who really use a wheelchair? Who are really paraplegics? Now just for minute, forget common Hollywood casting of only using an able bodied actor who has no idea what life as a paraplegic is really like – and think what it would mean to those that are paraplegics or using a wheelchair for their mobility – if that fictional hero police detective – was portrayed by someone who is just like them, an actor who is a paraplegic? Unless you are a paraplegic or have a loved one who is a paraplegic or using a wheelchair – you have no idea how significant, how important that would be – how empowering it would be to see that on the big screen!

That is Detective London in my “London Time” !

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And although I am a paraplegic, I am not an actor, but I am the writer and director, and one of the producers who will hire a paraplegic actor for that role of Detective London! Can you imagine what that would be like for the 6 million paraplegic/wheelchair users in America? It would even have an impact on many of the remaining 50+ million Americans with a disAbility! Or since American movies do have a global impact, what about the additional 600 million people world wide with a disAbility?

THAT IS WHY I do what I do, talk about what I talk about and why I will revolutionize Hollywood practices of portraying and representing those with a disAbility who can represent themselves! And right now I am contacting those who I think will be key personnel needed to produce this first feature film, “London Time”. Who’s with me? I will let you know as I get them. I have contacted some influential people in Hollywood – I wonder if I should let you know who – and what they say when I hear from them? Do you want to know?

Should it be public knowledge especially since this is such a difficult topic for Hollywood and those of us trying to get this fair and equal representation in movies and television? And although that may not be the nice thing to do – mention who I have and am contacting and waiting for an answer or who has rejected my “London Time” project – but then again is the common Hollywood practices against those with a disAbility really the nice thing to do?

EITHER WAY – history will soon record a significant “turning point” in American cinema for those with a disAbility on both sides of the camera is ON ITS WAY and I will not accept anything less – even with tremendous odds going against me. I have it developed and prepared to make a huge impact. Let’s stop talking and start doing!   

Vampires on Social Security Disability

Did you know Vampires have more representation on TV and in movies then I do?! Seriously, 20% of Americans have a disAbility that affects as least one major life activity – How many Americans are Vampires? Go ahead & count all of the gothic kids if you want and I bet you still don’t get any where near the 56+ million Americans with a disAbility! I was watching my LA Lakers do their thing (whip up on those little lucky to be there leprechauns from Boston) YEAH, Game 1 in the NBA Finals and I see a commercial for a new ABC drama coming on this Fall – called “The Gates”. Please – at the risk of upsetting my nieces – whom I love dearly – and I know they love the vampire stories, well at least the Twilight Series – but don’t you think we have enough vampire television shows and movies? Come on, they are flooding the market with them and before long they will become the new “TV medical dramas”! I got so sick of medical dramas about 6-7 years ago – I have only seen 2 or 3 episodes of Private Practice in all that time! Seriously, I get ill just seeing commercials for upcoming episodes of any current medical dramas and I cannot do it anymore! Opps, wait! That is not entirely true. I recently became a fan of the Fox show “House”! My aversions to medical shows and the fact that I had the opposite problem Hugh Laurie said he runs into with most American fans when they hear him speak out of character and with his native British accent – I have been such a fan of British comedies and dramas for such a long time – that I felt it was weird hearing him with an American accent! But the show has such great writing, acting and directing that when I finally overcame my aversions and watched a couple of episodes – I was and am now hooked! Oh and that gorgeous Olivia Wilde – mmmm, somebody get me a date with her will you? Oh wait is she married? Probably married or has a boyfriend! But still, wow!

Okay back to the Vampire fascination! Now they are going to do the same thing they did with medical shows with vampire stories! All coming from ancient mythology and becoming famous through Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel over a hundred years ago, this monster has grown and developed over the years into a complete culture. And I am not completely against it – I loved Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” with Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, and Keanu Reeves is beautifully shot, costumed, acting, directing, sets, and staying true to the novel.

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But also who couldn’t help but be entertained by “Interview with the Vampire” with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt? And because I love Kate Beckinsale, the “Underworld” and its first sequel, were fun!

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Maybe it is just the television versions of the vampires, starting with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and going through the current series, “The Vampire Diaries”!

Still today, I think the vampire stories are being adapted into every aspect of life and this “The Gates” have to be proof of that! Soccer mom vampires? But really a mythical character that has spawned so many stories and additional characters that now vampires – who are not even real people – are portrayed and represented on television and movies 50+ times more then the largest and fastest growing minority in America! What is happening? You know I could write an interesting, honest, and authentic paraplegic character to be added to nearly every television drama or sitcom on today! Oh, that’s ,y in, huh? A Vampire paraplegic getting Social Security Disability and because s/he cannot live on the small amount every month – goes on a serial home invasion crime spree and when is surprised by the home owners – sucks their blood and turns them into Vampires too?

Maybe I am over reacting – I hear from a really good friend that “True Blood” on HBO is really good. So it is probably just that I am upset that instead of getting a television show with an authentically portrayed paraplegic – not even a whole show – or even a featured character – just one that is part of an ensemble cast or recurring supporting character that is a paraplegic or a person with another disAbility – authentically represented, but instead we get a new hour long drama show about a suburb of Vampires! What is next, “Desperate Vampire Housewives” or “The Real Vampire Wives of Orange County/New York/or New Jersey”? Oh, wait, I got it – a Hollywood dream – a medical drama with vampires as the doctors – “Grey’s Vampire Anatomy Diaries” – Oh, and the hospital administrator is a paraplegic and closet vampire! That is a MAJOR HIT – Can you say Emmy?!

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Hollywood’s Elephant In The Room, Auditioning, Studio, and Even At The Party!

Elephant in the room” (also “elephant in the sitting room“, “elephant in the living room“, “elephant in the parlor“, “elephant in the corner“, “elephant on the dinner table“, “elephant in the kitchen“, “elephant in the champagne room“, and “elephant on the coffee table“) is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem no one wants to discuss.

It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there might be concerning themselves with relatively small and even irrelevant matters, compared to the looming big one.

The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue that is obvious, but which is ignored by a group of people, generally out of embarrassment or taboo. The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.

The term is often used to describe an issue that involves a social taboo, such as race, religion or even suicide. This idiomatic phrase is applicable when a subject is emotionally charged; and the people who might have spoken up decide that it is probably best avoided. (Elephant in the room – From Wikipedia.)

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And what is the subject that Hollywood doesn’t want to talk about – yet is so obvious it is like an elephant in the room? Yeah, it is the portrayal and representation of those with a disAbility. Okay, maybe not that obvious unless you look at the situation or you are working on one of the very few productions that feature a character with a disAbility. Most in Hollywood believe that a paraplegic actor can only be hired for roles with characters specifically written as a paraplegic – yet those roles 99% of the time hire able bodied actors for those roles! WHAT? Yeah! It is not only discriminating to limit the roles those with a disAbility can even realistically audition for – but it is basically double discrimination when those roles nearly always go to able bodied actors! So in these situations or even when speaking about it – it is like the elephant in the room. Whether I talk about it as an issue, or a cause, or more importantly as a solution that I have worked out from A to Z and ready to go into production – and whether it is a whisper or a SHOUT – Hollywood does not want to talk about it. I have talked about the causes, the reasons, the results and the impact, the history, the current attitudes, the future if nothing happens and what the future could be and should be – but nothing – not even a scathing research study by UCLA and published by SAG in 2005 detailing the discrimination and offering several recommendations have made much of a difference in the Hollywood practices that perpetuate stereotypes and the acceptance for discrimination of those with a disAbility. Oh, sure you talk to anybody in the industry and the words out of their mouths are that of concern, disgust and possibly anger at how things are in Hollywood as it comes to portraying and representing those with a disAbility – and how it makes us feel, some are surprised to be educated about this issue as they never thought of it before and had no idea that is how those with a disAbility feel about it – and it makes complete sense – but ask to lend a hand in making a change – and not even a big help – in fact just help me in supporting a change and in my producing the feature film that will be the beginning of an historic “turning point” in American cinema and still – nothing when it comes to action – if I am lucky I get a few kind words of support!

STOP! IMPORTANT MESSAGE!

Now if you’re reading this and especially if you are one of the Hollywood makers or players – I mention the above because it is what it is – you know it, you have seen it and maybe even lived it – nobody talks about characters, stories, let alone writers, directors, and actors with a disAbility – and if the subject does come up – it is very uncomfortable situation – probably because there is the history and more importantly the continued practices that stereotype and discriminate those with a disAbility – it is disgraceful and embarrassing and to avoid guilt – avoid the topic! BUT I would much more prefer talking about correcting the problem rather than the problem itself! But evidently for me to present a solution I have to bring this up as a problem because most do not want to talk about a solution to a problem they are not aware of – or in many cases refuse to admit even exists! So I have to hold up a mirror to Hollywood’s face! And I have been working toward the solution for the past 15 years – more than prepared to lead the way and help all of Hollywood to enter the 21st century, rise above the stereotypes and discrimination, and treat those with a disAbility with the same respect as other minorities!

Are We A Minority?

That seems to be either a fact or an excuse that I have determined, because most in Hollywood will not even speak about disAbility – but seems that most do not even consider having a disAbility as being a member of a minority. Convenient way to do skip the hassles of dealing with those with a disAbility – if you do not recognize or accept us a minority then there is no reason or obligation to treat us with the same respect as to providing equal rights and voices as they are required to do for a minority! So are we a minority? By definition we most definitely are a minority and when counted with 56+ million Americans, those with a disAbility (by ADA definition; a person with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities”), we are the largest and fastest growing minority in America – have been for years and with the largest generation (the Baby Boomers) growing older and entering retirement – along with advancements in medical treatments and technology extending the life expectancy, it is expected to continue to be for many years to come. Compare the size of population of more than 56 million Americans with a disAbility to the approximately 40 million blacks/African-Americans, and approximately the same number of Hispanics/Mexican-Americans. Along with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act including those with a disAbility with other minority groups, such as those by race, age, or gender we are still most often looked at individually and not as a group. Because of this, ending the acceptable discrimination and social isolation has been very slow in coming. But since the historic signing of the ADA in 1990, and with supporting documents such as the first extensive market research ever done (and still the only) on those with a disAbility opened their summary by stating that we have banded together in significant numbers and spending power to be considered a significant and separate “consumer market” segment by Packaged Facts published in 1997, which conservatively estimated based on the numbers then that by 2001 the “disabled consumer market” will have an aggregate income over $1 trillion and that includes $220 billion in discretionary spending power – which those with a disAbility spent on quality of life products and services – the top two being travel and entertainment!  Wow! Most industries suddenly looked beyond merely complying with ADA accessibility laws and began to modify their products and/or services to attract this often over looked spending power group – underserved market segment of those with a disAbility! That was 13 years ago – and today in 2010, along with local, state and federal governments, most industries have recognized that those with a disAbility are a group, a minority, and a large force in both size and consumer spending! But one industry that has not only ignored these facts but have openly and blatantly dismissed these facts is the motion picture and television industry. Even after the 2 year research study by UCLA on the Performers with Disabilities was published by SAG in 2005 that detailed the incredible stereotypes, dismissals, and discrimination that Hollywood has on those with a disAbility – very little has changed within the industry!

State of Mind vs. State of Being and Fact

Those changes some would argue are seen in two significant roles – if we narrow it down to those characters who are paraplegics – one in television in the highly rated new show – “Glee” (which if you want my entire review and social commentary on read my blog post “Glee is Everything to Everyone”) and in movies – a role in the newest box office champ – “Avatar” where all the able bodied scenes of the paraplegic character are all computer generated and perfect for someone in Hollywood to finally become a leader in portraying and representing those with a disAbility by hiring a paraplegic actor – BUT NO – both of these “so-called” changes still hired able bodied actors! This is not about how great an actor can PORTRAY being a person with a disAbility. And it is not even about getting that PORTRAYAL correct by using the correct props even though you are faking having a disAbility – I do ask that if you are going to perpetuate the faking, the demeaning that anybody but those with a disAbility can represent those with a disAbility – that you fake it correctly (see the blog entries “The ‘Lost’ Wheelchair” and “The Lost and Found Wheelchair”)!

It is about respect, accepting us as equals in the human race and representing those with a disAbility. REPRESENT is a term that has a lot of meaning and goes beyond just the letters – it has implications to and from the head and the heart. Can you REPRESENT being from the hood if you were born and raised in the middle to upper-middle class suburbs? Can you REPRESENT being a black, African-American, or Hispanic person (or character) if you are white? Can you REPRESENT being a woman if you are a man? Sure for comedic effect and when the character is faking it and the audience is in on it such as in “Tootsie”, “White Chicks”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Big Mama’s House”, and its sequel, or even when the character isn’t faking it but the audience is still in on it and it is still for comedic effect such as Tyler Perry as “Madea”, or Eddie Murphy in multiple roles including as Mama and Granny Klump in “The Nutty Professor” and “The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps”!

Having a disAbility is not the same as being a woman or of a racial or ethnic minority – but it still has the same type of challenges and it is still very much a minority. Hollywood thinks it is all a state of mind and that anybody can portray and represent those with a disAbility. For those of us living with a disAbility it is a LOT MORE than just a state of mind – it is state of being. Being a paraplegic goes beyond just the physical challenges – although they in themselves are huge when you consider that I basically drag half of my body around all day – every day! And this doesn’t end when the production ends – or even at the end of the shooting day! This will never end – save a medical miracle! Which may be nice to dream about – but I live in the here and now! A wheelchair does aid in dragging my body around, but still wake up with me one morning and just watch me drag my body to the edge of the bed, transfer into my chair, on to the toilet, and either back into my chair or then on to the shower transfer bench, shower, transfer back into my chair, and then let’s get dressed! Now can I go make some coffee?! I am completely paralyzed from the middle of my back down – but fortunately I do have complete use of my upper body – and with it I live an independent life – alone – doing all of this and much more by myself. In addition to these obvious physical challenges, there are the muscle spasms, bladder and bowel management, physical pain at the point of injury and others associated directly with being a paraplegic.

Along with the added physical challenges of being a paraplegic, there are added economic challenges for medical supplies and equipment, and do not forget about accessible modifications to home and vehicle – none of which are free and whether there is a co-pay or not – it is expensive to survive with paralysis – with being a person with a disAbility. And on the subject of added economic challenges – let’s talk about employment. Getting and keeping a full time job as a paraplegic using a wheelchair – is incredibly difficult – the unemployment statistics for those with a disAbility will prove it. Even during good economic times – let alone during bad times like we have seen the past 2 years. Whether it is based on the person with a disAbility going to find work or the employers who have a vast choice of candidates, many employers are afraid how that person with a disAbility will fit in with the other employees, the moral of the co-workers – of the entire team, will there be any decrease in overall performance – what access modifications will need to be made – and the fear that they may not be able to get rid of the employee with a disAbility after hiring them – even for legitimate reasons for fear that they will be sued for discrimination.

What about social challenges? As a man in a wheelchair rolling into a social situation, a party – any party that you have ever been to – a work party, a high school reunion, hell, even at a club on a Friday night with your friends and/or co-workers, do you think I would stick out? Would I be considered a minority in at that party? Don’t get me started on dating! Chances of me wooing that fine female who is at the center of attention, hell me being a player with the wall flower has odds against me (which is why I will still shoot for that gorgeous woman all the guys are trying to get the attention of – because if the odds are the same – might as well make it worth it – Yo, Eva Mendes, over here babe – wink, wink! LOL) Seriously, all of the above challenges add to the mental and emotional challenges associated with being a person with a disAbility and living with it in our society – even now in the 21st century! And all of this is but an overview of what it is like living as a paraplegic – as a person with a disAbility.

It’s NOT a Choice!

Whether you are born with or acquire a disAbility later in life though injury or disease/illness, nobody chooses their disAbility! Just like you do not choose your race or gender and yet Hollywood chooses who it wants to PORTRAY and REPRESENT characters with a disAbility! I will say this again – I know not all of the 56+ million Americans with a disAbility can represent themselves but a lot of us can – still Hollywood puts us all together as unable and that is wrong. Do they choose what race can represent any given race? No, they RESPECT race and gender, but give no respect to disAbility.  I think I have demonstrated how this is much more than a state of mind – with factors that clearly show that in our society those with a disAbility are a minority when you consider all other industries recognize us as one, the law says we are, by definition we are a minority, and you consider our lifestyle compared to the majority:

  • Physical challenges
  • Economic disadvantages
  • Employment discrimination
  • Social stigmas
  • Mental & Emotional challenges

Clearly there are plenty of reasons that a disAbility affects a person’s life – usually every aspect of their life. I am not saying it is the same as living as a racial minority – but I am saying that it has issues and challenges that go just a deep and are just as significant to a person’s identity as other factors such as race, gender, age, creed, sexual orientation AND therefore should be treated with the same RESPECT when coming to PORTRAY and REPRESENTING in movies and television. To you it may not be a big deal who REPRESENTS those living in the hood, or a black character, or a character with a disAbility – but it is very important to those living in the hood, to those in the black, African-American community, to those in the disAbled community, and that latter includes me – and especially if you are REPRESENTING my life as a paraplegic and yet when you are not in character – you are jumping, running, walking, and NOT dragging half your body around all day, every day! And I find it offensive that any able bodied person, including great actors, with few exceptions such as I talked about with the “Lost” character, John Locke – depends on the context of the story, but for the overwhelming majority of characters and stories represented by able bodied who think they understand me and my life and therefore can portray and represent paraplegics – that is OFFENSIVE.

Isolated and Invisible

Despite being a member of the largest and fastest growing minority in America we are often very isolated – unlike other minorities – such as those based on race or ethnicity – we usually do not grow up in homes with other members from the same minority! We do not have a heritage or traditions that are handed down from our parents! We do not have readily known heroes from the disAbled community who fought for our civil rights that we know by name. There were many who are responsible for the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to be signed into law – and many more since who are responsible for the updates and amendments but they were not given any media attention – they are not well known as Martin Luther King, Jr. And because of this lack of disAbility heritage, traditions, or well known heroes are we not worthy to be treated with the same respect as other minorities?

Hollywood is adding to this isolation by keeping us nearly invisible in movies and television – and if that wasn’t enough – on the very few occasions we are “included” in a movie or television program – they hire an actor who has no idea what we go through. Getting an actor from the majority to portray and represent a minority character – is offensive – the Hollywood exception is those with a disAbility – their thoughts seem to be, “who cares, except for those with a disAbility and most of them don’t say anything because history shows nobody listens even if they do” – “no big deal” – “they do not have to be given any of the same rights and privileges – not even the same as the sometimes limited rights, opportunities, representation given to other minorities”!

Using an able bodied actor in a role that is specifically written with a disAbility that is able to represent themselves – such as paraplegics – is like trying to camouflage the elephant in the room.

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This is the Hollywood environment I have lived in for the past 15 years – and the same one that I have put all my hopes and dreams into and hoping to be given the opportunity (or being able to “create an opportunity” as described in the previous blog entry “Cut Them Off At The Pass”) to provide a change for the future when it comes to portraying and representing paraplegics and everyone with a disAbility. This is what I mean when I say that my films will be a major contributor to what history will record as a significant “turning point” in American cinema for those with a disAbility.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!

I think everyone agrees that with great power comes great responsibility. The images from movies and television have a great influence on the culture which in turn influences society’s opinions and decisions on all kinds of issues and on people, etc. This can be seen in a number of causes but none more obvious and closely related to those with a disAbility then the ones of race and gender. The portrayals and representation of blacks from the very first feature length talkie, “The Jazz Singer” with Al Jolson, through those with Sidney Poitier in the 1960’s. The portrayals of women dating back to when they were not allowed on stage, as depicted in the wonderful film “Shakespeare in Love”, through women’s voices, visions being represented in television like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and films by women like Nora Ephron and Nancy Myers through the opportunities expand beyond a specific women’s voices, causes, or issues as is seen with the Oscar going to Best Director of 2009 to Kathryn Bigelow – the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar and her film “The Hurt Locker” won the Oscar for Best Picture – of which I was personally very happy about – Read more at the blog past, “The Oscars”!

Yes, both of these minorities (are women a minority? Apply that definition to those with a disAbility!) were aided with civil rights movements – and we have had ours kind of hitting our pinnacle with the ADA of 1990 – but Hollywood still haven’t given us our due – our voices, visions, performances – our representation in movies and television!

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Hollywood, you have a great influence on our culture and society’s opinions and in fact it reaches all over the world and therefore should be providing for the under represented, for the repressed voices, visions, representations – especially for those you are repressing! Quit worrying about being implicated in being responsible for those repressive voices, visions, performances – and just do it – make it happen. At the very least you should cease and desist all misrepresentations of those with a disAbility – when it comes to portrayals of those who have a disAbility that can represent themselves, such as paraplegics! Your current and past history of not including those with a disAbility in movies and television say that it is okay for our culture and society in general to not include those with a disAbility. And that the lives of those with a disAbility are not significant enough to voice their own opinions and represent themselves and therefore able bodied must represent them – even if it is not accurate, genuine, or authentic – able bodied can do better even when it comes to telling their story, their opinions on life – their life! This is what you are doing and it is of greater harm than not including us in movies and television. Great power brings great responsibility. What are you going to do?

I have the answer and it is so simple – if done correctly – including the 3 movie elements as defined in my business plans and incorporate the marketing strategies that are also outlined in detail in the business plans for my company Abilities United Productions and the production business plan for the feature film project of “London Time”. And I will with or without your help make this happen and history will record it as a significant “turning point” in American cinema for those with a disAbility.  

Where are you on the issue and where will you be on that historic day?

So can it be done? Can we usher the elephant completely out of the room and at least finally be able to talk about when it is appropriate and when it is not okay to authentically portray and represent those with a disAbility? Does the American spirit and dream that you can be what ever you want to be – that you can do what ever you want to do regardless of who you are – live in Hollywood? We will continue to hope so and work toward making it happen – even if it against Hollywood’s will! I mean really now – it is 2010 and since this is still acceptable practices to continue to stereotype and misrepresent those with a disAbility – to not accept us as people worthy of our own voice and representation, then be prepared Hollywood – if you don’t want to talk about my authentically represented films – the permanent solution to the problem – then I will force you to talk about the problem itself, the elephant in the room, auditioning room, the studio, and everywhere else because it has been around for far too long! It is way past time to give us the same respect you give other minorities, even though there are still changes that need to be made in their portrayals and representations – when compared to the portrayals and representations of those with a disAbility – racial and gender minorities are nearly a light-year further on the progressive timeline!

NOW can you see how having a disAbility is a significant factor in the identity of those LIVING with a disAbility? As significant to our identity, if not more significant because it affects every aspect of our lives, as our gender, race, and age! So why is this significant identity factor not given the same weight, respect, or acceptance as gender, race, or age in Hollywood?

Do our feelings matter? Here I cannot believe I am talking about “feelings”! It is a even deeper then an emotion. What about our personal identity, does it deserve to be respected or at the very least accepted as being significant to us, to our identity? Does our being offended that our minority status can be demeaned to the point where it is okay for anyone to represent and portray us as acceptable? And that since we are most often ignored and never portrayed – despite being 20% of the American population – we should be grateful for any portrayal? Or are we that low on the human race scale that what we feel is of no significance?

I am talking about it – ignore it if you want – but remember it is your conscious – sleep well. There are a lot of issues and causes out there and many Hollywood makers and players find those that they want to help, but this is one that is often dismissed, or unaware of it being a big deal, but it is so big, so obvious, and so easy to fix – I have done most of the work – all of the preparation – I just need a Hollywood maker or player to join with me to help take it to the next level. Join me and be a part of history’s significant “turning point” in American cinema for those with a disAbility which will have a deep impact on our culture and society! Does that sound like something you would like to be remembered for? How about being known as a significant participant to changing the Hollywood images, stereotypes, discrimination against those with a disAbility and providing us with our own voice and our own heroes? It is going to happen – where will you be on that great day! Will you be numbered as one of the Hollywood players and makers that helped make it happened OR just there at the Hollywood premier of “London Time” to get your picture taken?

Better decide now – because once I have those I need to help make this historic day become a reality, the production of “London Time” will happen and it will not take long to get this historic “turning point” in American cinema in the cinema and then the only place for you will be to support it with your presence on the red carpet for its premier day! Or on the production of the second film project! Will you be there from the beginning or with the others who have jumped on the band wagon? It is up to you! Contact me!

The Lost & Found Wheelchair

Well, I cannot help but wonder if someone woke up Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the producers & writers of the “Lost” television series or if they read my blog post “The Lost Wheelchair” ?!?!?!?! As a fan who loves “Lost” I was very happy with the Finale that aired this past Sunday. I didn’t have or attend any “Lost” parties, but I did record the recap show that preceded the Finale, along with the Finale, some of the local ABC news that followed the Finale with cast interviews, and the Jimmy Kimmel Live Special Aloha to Lost that ended the night! 

Overall, I really enjoyed the entire series and this Finale episode. But I was a little concerned about some things – namely beginning with the whole storyline of Jack miraculously healing Locke’s spinal cord injury! Hey, I understand that Jack is a brilliant, well maybe not the best according some of the flashbacks over the past 6 years, but a wonderful spinal surgeon. Still, the brightest minds on the planet cannot figure out how to repair a spinal cord – or more accurately to create, grow, artificially substitute, or make our own bodies grow nerve cells – the key to our entire nervous system and the central nervous system that requires the spinal cord to use the conduit to and from the brain! We can transplant organs like kidneys, livers, even hearts from one human to another. Or create, manufacture and implant an artificial heart to keep a person alive. And most recently I have seen them create organs out of tissue cells – BUT the NERVE CELL still cannot be replicated and made to heal the spinal cord! The big hope is that stem cells will provide new nerve cells to help someone with a spinal cord injury to repair it and heal the person, or to somehow figure out to tell our bodies that it is okay to once again generate, create new nerve cells as it did when we were young and before it turned off the switch that makes nerve cells. But right now it is still impossible.

But in typical Hollywood fashion it looked like “Lost” was going to the end the Locke story with him being healed from paraplegia. This has been developing all season as Dr. Jack Shephard has been trying to convince the John Locke character in the flash sideways segments/alternate dimension, that he can heal him. Locke played it pretty cool and accurate given that they never gave any details on how he would be miraculously cured! Never mentioned any research, studies, or even a simple basic description of how this is going work – other than Jack is a brilliant spinal surgeon who will do “extensive spinal surgery” to cure him and he feels Locke is a prime candidate for the miraculous surgery that will do what nobody in this world can do by healing a severed spinal cord! I should know because I have a severed spinal cord! Whether you have paraplegia or not – everyone knows it is impossible to heal – otherwise there would not be any paraplegics!

But regardless of reason, Hollywood loves to use the miraculous healing of a paraplegic as their happy ending. As if a person with a disAbility cannot ride or roll off into a happy sunset unless it comes with a miraculous healing and becoming able bodied! WHAT? Yeah, thanks for perpetuating that message over and over again!

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Anyway, the “Lost” storyline looked like it was going down this typical – or should I say stereotypical ending, as Locke finally agrees to let Jack perform the surgery and as he is on the gurney being pushed toward the operating room he looks over at his new wheelchair

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which is a chair that is much more likely to be used by a paraplegic and included a very necessary seat cushion that prevents or helps prevent pressure sores that we are very susceptible to when seated all the time, and just like I blogged about in the previous entry mentioned above! In that blog entry, I said that I hoped that the wheelchair that Locke was using – the hospital wheelchair which they were using to portray a paraplegic character was not a very genuine portrayal for a character who had been paralyzed for 4 years as Locke was – and I had hoped that that hospital chair would not survive the crash Locke suffered when Desmond ran over him in an episode earlier this season. And it looked like hopes were realized and fortunately the producers did not get Locke’s replacement chair from the same unauthentic Durable Medical Equipment store they got the first one from!    

So far, so good! Now back to the storyline – miraculous healing and fairy tale ending or realistic, honest, respectful ending? At this point, Locke has been wheeled into surgery and maybe the surgery would not be successful or Locke’s body rejected the treatment and we will have a more realistic storyline! Opps, not the case – Locke is wheeled into a recovery room and Dr. Jack comes in to hear Locke tell him something even Jack thinks is unbelievable – REALLY? The healing spinal cord surgery is not unbelievable enough we need more unbelievable material/content? First, is that Locke is becoming conscious so soon after he was under anesthesia that the nurse assured the Doc that she knows he had gotten a full dose from the anesthesiologist!  So Locke just comes from the operating room and suddenly awakens? Really? That is pretty quick, but wait we are not done yet! John Locke says that he can feel his legs and Jack doesn’t believe him as he responds, “It is highly unlikely you’d regain sensation that quickly” – Really? Again it is a surprise to me too but hey, you Dr. Shepherd just performed an impossible surgery as if it was as common as an appendectomy and his feeling any sensation this quickly is impossible or surprising to you? Wait there is more! If you order in the next ten minutes we will double your order for free – you only pay for extra shipping and handling! John Locke then moves his toes.

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He is healed! It is a miracle! It is Hollywood’s main ending to a character they have no idea of what life is like for them! Fake it! Pretend you know! Do what Hollywood has done before! Hey, it worked before, right? Yeah that is the answer!

Well, hey this is “Lost” and it is their job to make us say, “What?” and “Really?” but it is usually to things that are not blatantly obviously impossible! Well then again surviving a plane crash on an uncharted island that travels through time, disappears and causes all kinds of weird occurrences because it has tapped into a huge electromagnetic power source that some have been trying to either contain or harness since the Dharma Initiative in the 1970’s – and effecting lives at least since the 1800’s(? when Ricardo/Richard showed up) or even before that during the unknown time frame when Jacob and his brother were born! So I guess the miraculous healing of John Locke’s paraplegia is okay? 

WAIT! Locke shows up at the church – the location of the final scene – 20 minutes before the end of the finale episode, he gets out of the taxi cab and into his new wheelchair!

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What? Is he healed or not? I don’t know and don’t care – too much is happening with too many characters and we are getting close to wrapping it all up. I cannot dwell on every detail as it happens! But this is cool – Locke is still a paraplegic. He rolls up to the courtyard

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and talks with Ben Linus who tells Locke at the end of their conversation, “You know I don’t think you need to be in that chair anymore.” What? Really, again? Locke does stand up and walks away leaving the wheelchair in the courtyard as he enters the church! WHOA!

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Again, I was shocked and had a knee-jerk reaction as I was watching it but at the time of watching I do not have time to analyze what is happening as we only had about 15 minutes left in the show! But even when those 15 minutes were over – it took a few minutes to put it all together and when I did – the producers/writers Lindelof and Cuse redeemed themselves in my eyes! Well not completely – I wish I had been a consultant for them on this issues of Locke’s paraplegia, but I give them credit for at least keeping me thinking, guessing, and surprising me – not only with the over all story but with this subplot/storylines of the paraplegic Locke! As Locke got to the church – this is where time stops – Locke is walking in a dimension that is beyond this life. Like Albert Einstein said “time is irrelevant” as it comes to the universe – the past, present, and future are all happening at the same time. It is a bit much for our mortal minds to comprehend in a world where time is everything but if it is true – that is how I explain Déjà vu! And I believe that in the storyline of “Lost” this church is where the “time is irrelevant” as Jack’s father, Christian explains to Jack in the room next to the chapel of the church where the empty casket sits and he tells Jack, “There is no ‘now’ here.” and Jack realizes it is he that is also dead! So Locke got up and walked out of his realistically new wheelchair because he is at this point – dead and is either his spirit or his eternal body and spirit – as taught in Christian beliefs that thanks to the Atonement of Christ – death is overcome and once we end our “time” on this “time relevant” world – our spirit leaves this body behind until it is reunited with our renewed body that is perfected and we live in the eternities as Jesus showed when He returned 3 days after He was crucified and His disciples felt the wounds in His hands and feet – so either way as a spirit or as a spirit and perfected body reunited, Locke stands up and is in no need of a wheelchair!

Personally, I would’ve eliminated the entire “extensive spinal surgery” that would lead to a miraculous cure for paraplegia storyline – but other than that – I loved “Lost” – from the first episode through this week’s series finale! It was great storytelling and like the show JJ Abrams created before this one – “Alias” it was like a movie – a one hour movie every week – in content and visual appeal. Television will never be the same again. And I hope that television’s portrayal of paraplegics will never be the same again too! So to future television and movie producers – if you are going to fake my disAbility – even when it is necessary like it was with this character, John Locke – I hope that Hollywood will at least make the attempt to make it as real and believable of a paraplegic character as possible – which means using a wheelchair that a paraplegic would use – not a hospital wheelchair that a person who is temporarily injured or healing from a surgery that causes pain to walk – but one who is using a wheelchair while living their life independently with their disAbility!


Next step – going beyond a realistic portrayal and providing authentic representation – respecting the disAbility and the people who live with it by using actors with the same or similar disAbility as the character! And of course because I am not an actor – I have to mention authentic voices and visions using authentic writers and directors who KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LIVE FROM A WHEELCHAIR! It really is a lot more than how brilliant an able bodied actor is in faking the paraplegia or other disAbility that can be represented by those who live with the disAbility!

This is about:

  • respecting and acknowledging that being a paraplegic – that living with a disAbility is significant to quality of life.
  • a life where those living with the disAbility HAVE TO RESPECT THE DISABILITY and so should Hollywood.
  • A disAbility is as significant to a PERSON’S IDENTITY as is their age, gender, race, and creed – and it should be treated with the same respect in the images, portrayals, and representation in movies and television! Any disrespect by unauthentic portrayals and representation of a disAbility is the same as disrespecting the identity of a person’s race, gender, age, and/or creed. That is why an able bodied actor portraying a paraplegic character is the same as blackface – and why I call most of them “Al Jolson’s in a wheelchair” (the John Locke character – in the context of the “Lost” show’s premise – is a rare exception to this!)

And quit saying that through current stereotypes and discriminating practices

  • that the disAbility is no big deal
  • that any actor can represent those living with it
  • and that those living with paraplegia are not good enough
  • nor are they capable of portraying and representing themselves!

That is what this is all about – it is deeper than most in Hollywood will even bother to acknowledge. Which in itself is disrespectful – but most don’t even care about that! Therefore you can see why we have a long way to go and it is surprising since it is 2010 and we still are not given respect to portray or represent ourselves in movies and television. Time for a Hollywood change! http://AbilitiesUnited.com