At least I'm better off than you: Disability diversity in Australian cinema
Ellis, K. (2004) At least I'm better off than you: Disability diversity in Australian cinema. In: Cultural Studies Association of Australasia Annual Conference: Everyday Transformations: The Twenty-First Century Quotidian, 9 - 11 December 2004, Murdoch University, Murdoch, W.A.
Disability reminds us of our vulnerability, that we will die. While social factors have been recognised in discussions of other minority groups in Australian cinema, particularly race, gender and sexuality, disability has remained outside questions of discourse, culture, communication and meaning. Disability has long been considered as suited only to a specialty, or medical field of inquiry not covered in the scope of the humanities and social sciences. While disabled people see the changes they make to their lived environment ordinary and every day, most people view this group as tragic and helpless due to the medicalisation of these accommodations. Most disability research has been within the medical model with its in-built assumptions seeing disability as an individual pathology rather than through a social model. A cursory review of cinematic representation of disability in Australian national cinema during the 1990s reveals a sense of uneasiness about the human condition. This paper examines the way disability is individualised and impairment becomes a cultural sign in a selection of recent Australian feature films. A comparison of two films dealing with disability and sexual eligibility reveals the way disability has been excluded from an Australian identity. While Lucky Break relies on pre-existing prejudice to convey information about character and plot, Dance Me To My Song offers the possibility of pride in a disability identity.
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