Sunday, February 26, 2012

Film Review 2: Murderball

What is the main thesis of this film?

The film
Murderball shines a new perspective on people who are disabled. Though their hands and legs may be paralyzed or damaged, disabled individuals can do what “normal” people do, to contrary belief. We tend to have the stereotypical image of the poor person bound in a wheelchair with a gentle smile. In reality, this is not the case. Though disabled people cannot walk or play the piano like “regular” people or on a certain standard, they can still perform many tasks with pride and need not to be pitied on.

What were the main arguments in support of the thesis?

As mentioned above, people usually think of the disabled as gentle individuals on a wheelchair, like one of the archetypes "The Good Cripple". However, some of the characters in the film were “jerks” (not because of their injury, but retaining their true personality before and after the accidents) and not as passive as you think disabled individuals actually are. Some others, despite completely losing their forearm, were able to open doors with keys and pour drinks just like the abled-bodied. The film eventually showed a clip of a doctor talking about sex life after their injury with a very cheesy background music and sympathetic voice which seems to be very degrading to the disabled. There are disabled people who can enjoy their sex life just fine (which seems to be surprising to the able-bodied). There are also those who can play sports very professionally, such as murderball (now called wheelchair rugby and a Paralympic sport) in which they play with pride.

How does the thesis of this film relate to the course?

In class, we have learned the underlying assumptions and connotations that come along with the label “disabled”, “handicap”, or “person in a wheelchair”. Many communities who are considered outsiders to the society (the “normal” people) are trying to reclaim their label and to remove all the negativity within the term. For example, murderball players have pride being disabled and do not wish to walk again (to contrary belief where people assume that the disabled wished they could walk again). Additionally, murderball players use their disability as a scoring point which is very interesting! And not to mention, their “weapon” of choice and sign of masculinity is a customized wheelchair, their master status. In our society, having a flaw or being disabled is usually a sign of shame and should be buried away, however, murderball players are not ashamed of their disability but instead embracing it. Also, there are various ways to play a sport and not just one standard (the same applies to gender, sexuality, or minds). To come up with a sport such as murderball that is similar to rugby for disabled athletes is a proven point.

Which arguments/points did you find the most convincing?

As mentioned above, the scoring system is really convincing to me. They use their disability, amplified with their pride, to score points for their team. Also, showing scenes of disabled players doing “regular” things such as changing their clothes or pouring water into a cup was really eye-opening. Admittedly, I thought that disabled people needed help for particular things in general. However, watching one of the players, Bob, who lost his legs and his forearm due to meningitis, unlocking his front door with a key was interesting and really made my ignorance obvious.

I’m also surprised that murderball is a mixed gender sport which is not considered the norm since most sports are gender segregated (in addition to using a wheelchair in sport or having disabled athletes), which reminds us of the reading for class "Deaf Team's Standout Season Draws Cheers". Nothing about those sports are the norm, or mainstream. Wheelchair rugby has become a sport that learned not to discriminate against others due to their disability or gender.

Which arguments/points did you find the least convincing?

Honestly, I really loved the movie and it was an eye-opener. I could not find anything that was not convincing to me! Rather, I do have a criticism that the majority of the main characters in the film were white men. I would have loved to see more people of color and of different gender speaking about their experiences and journey as a disabled person.

Choose one argument, point or question that most stands out for you. How would you study this point? Briefly design a research study around that point.

I’m actually interested to see whether people of different sizes, age, races, ethnicities, and gender get differential treatment as a disabled person. So far, I’ve seen only white men speaking of their experiences on the movie Murderball and we rarely get to hear true voices from the disabled in the mainstream media.
“Will an obese black woman become an easier target of discrimination versus a skinny white male on a wheelchair?”
“Do trans individuals or gays/lesbians in wheelchairs get even further ridiculed in addition to their queer status”?
“Will people sympathize more towards an old Asian woman than a young middle-eastern child?”

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