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Another day, another Deaf character is played by someone hearing

2015-02-02

There is a new prop in the movie industry!

Lo and behold... DEAFNESS!

What a great prop it is. A superb commodity that will bring you: a bunch of extremely basic jokes, the possibility to overlook d/Deaf talent, an opportunity to let the media spread wrong information about d/Deaf people, the ability to rob d/Deaf people of their own story. Overall, it will allow you, wonderfully privileged people, to perpetuate oppression, ableism, and keep the status quo.

Another day, another Deaf character played by a hearing actor/actress.

The latest culprit is the movie Medeas, where Catalina Sandino Moreno will play a Deaf character. The article is riddled with all the usual problems - use of the word mute, the obsession with words, the obsession with music but also quietness... The video interview by the newspaper (without subtitles, obviously, so I made subtitles on Amara) ends up not even bothering with Deaf. She's playing "a mute".

It has caused many reactions online and more particularly on Twitter, under the hashtag #DeafTalent, as well as #POCDeafTalent.

Rikki Poynter, recently featured on BBC Ouch, has published a vlog about this. Marlee Matlin has expressed her anger. Alicia is compiling a list of Deaf talents. You can see for example Amber Zion in an interview where she talks about being a Deaf actress. Listen to the members of the Deaf community! Jules Dameron is posting updates (part 1 and part 2) so you can follow more easily what is happening on Twitter.

Meanwhile, those who brought this situation are doing the usual - it's just an artistic choice, blah blah blah.

They've already sold the rights to France so it'll be able to join La Famille Bélier, which I've talked about here, then in a follow-up post, and critiqued there.

Being d/Deaf is different from being a pilot. Being d/Deaf is different from playing a police officer. Being d/Deaf is not a job. No, the fact Dustin Hoffman isn't autistic and played in Rain Man doesn't make it ok (it was wrong too), no the fact there are non-disabled actors pretending to use a wheelchair doesn't make it ok (it's wrong too), no, the fact Emmanuelle Laborit won a Molière for her role in the French theatre play version of Children of a Lesser God doesn't make it ok (you had to go back to 1993 to think of a famous Deaf actress so you're just proving my point). No, no, no, no, no. Stop justifying this. Stop erasing the voices of d/Deaf people.

Tags: Deaf, awareness, cinema