Paper 1 - Portrayal of Disabilities 1 The Portrayal of...

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Portrayal of Disabilities The Portrayal of Disabilities in the Media University of Colorado- Boulder People with Disabilities have been portrayed in the media, rightly or not, for decades. Since the ADA was put into place America has become more sensitive to the use of language 1
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Portrayal of Disabilities and stereotypes acceptable when talking about People with Disabilities. That does not stop all media sources from being politically incorrect towards People with Disabilities. Whether it is TV shows, movies, books, magazines, and even comedians, inaccurate perceptions of People with Disabilities can be portrayed. But that is not always the case. There are always exceptions to this inaccurate portrayal of People with Disabilities. The first image that comes to my mind when thinking of Persons with Disabilities being represented in the media is that of Timmy from Comedy Central’s show “South Park”. Timmy is a young boy who is in an electric wheelchair which is possibly because of Spinal Bifida or Cerebral Palsy; though it is not know what affliction he has because it has never been said in the show. Timmy can only say a few phrases such as “Timmy”, and “livin’ a lie”, though it is nearly impossible to understand that he is actually saying ”livin’ a lie” because he slurs the words drastically and sound like “liv-a-lah”. The show portrays Timmy in the stereotypical way that uninformed people tend to think of People with Mental Retardation in that he is unable to function in a “normal” way. His speech is also incredibly stereotypical in that he can barely say any word at all, and the ones he can say are slurred. While the image of Timmy is completely unfair to People with Mental Retardation, his relationship with the other characters is nice turn around from his image. All the other kids on the show treat Timmy, for the most part, just like they treat any other kid and do not overbear him with hatred or pity. The best example of this is the episode “Timmy 2000” in which Timmy joins a band named Lords of the Underworld. In this episode Timmy becomes the singer of the band and the band becomes instantly famous (South Park, 2000). This worries the adults in the show because they think that Timmy is being exploited saying to the children, “Boys don’t laugh at him, he’s handicapped,” after Timmy’s band finishes a song (South Park, 2000). The boys then come back with, “…but he looks happy 2
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Portrayal of Disabilities to me.” At the end of the episode the crowd at the festival where Timmy’s band is supposed to play starts chanting “Timmy, Timmy, Timmy” after booing Phil Collins off the stage. When Timmy starts playing the entire crowd goes crazy and has a good time (South Park, 2000). This episode was used in part to show that People with Disabilities (PWD) are able to do things that
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