At this year’s wonderful GEEK GIRL CON in Seattle, I had the pleasure to be on a panel regarding the portrayal of disability in comics. It was one of the best panels I’ve ever seen, let alone been on, not because of me, but because of the quality, passion, wit and knowledge of the moderator and guests.
It was a joy just to mostly sit back and listen to these people.
It was moderated by my friend Day Al-Mohamed, and paneled by the wonderful actress (and another friend I love) Teal Sherer, and writer/activists Liz Henry and Lawrence Carter-Long.
It was such a lively panel, full of hilarious jokes by all the panelists, especially Liz and Lawrence. A lot of fun was made of the ‘inspiring disabled person,’ trope, and rightly so, but there definitely WAS a lot to be inspired by with these hilarious, take-no-bullshit panelists for other reasons entirely. I can’t remember ever just wanting a panel to go on and on like this one. It was honest and smart and funny and just pretty goddamned great.
The funniest panelist was activist/writer Lawrence Carter-Long, who said so much smart, biting stuff that I could barely process it all. I became a fan that day and sought him out to talk to him more later. I asked what he had in the pipeline, and he told me that Turner Classic Movies had asked him to co-host a series of movies in October, every Tuesday for the entire month, showing films that portrayed people with disabilities, or featured actors with disabilities.
That starts tonight. And knowing Lawrence, my guess is that this is going to be AMAZING.
Lawrence didn’t just pick well-known stuff like, “The Miracle Worker,” there are obscurities and some films that probably raise a lot of eyebrows.
In all, there are, I think, twenty films in the series. It starts tonight, I’ve been waiting for this since he first told me about it. Please check your local listings and spread the word, this is a very cool event for film buffs and those interested in fairness in the media. I think you’re going to want to see this.
The series is called THE PROJECTED IMAGE. It starts tonight and runs every Tuesday this month. Please spread the word and make this a huge success!
Lawrence Carter-Long’s twitter is @LCarterLong . He’s a fascinating guy with a knack for storytelling, I suspect he’s going to be great at this.
I’m swiping this small excerpt from today’s L.A. Times, which did a story about this today. It’s worth reading the whole thing.
"The festival marks the seventh series from TCM to examine how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed in film. Several of these earlier series showcased movies in which white actors were cast in nonwhite leads (Katharine Hepburn as a Chinese peasant; Burt Lancaster as an Apache chief). In later films, however, after the prospect of actors performing in blackface, yellowface, or brownface became less palatable within Hollywood, one sees a dramatic shift away from these types of “creative casting.”
Not so with this series. The featured films span from 1927 to ‘87, and if anything, one notices more disabled actors in the earlier films. There’s Harold Russell, who lost his hands as an Army instructor during World War II, playing a disabled veteran in 1946’s "The Best Years of Our Lives." Two years later, Susan Peters, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a hunting accident, plays a conniving matriarch in the noir thriller “Sign of the Ram.”
"She’s literally hell on wheels in this thing," says Carter-Long. "If the industry could do something like that in 1948, you have to ask, why aren’t they doing it now?""