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Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

writing for parents of the bravest hearts

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

green writing for parents

The children are watching

Sam and I enjoy going to the movies once a month or so. We are lucky that two theaters with lounge seating are within an easy biking distance, including our newest favorite, Alamo Drafthouse.

Sam’s not a fan of action films, or films with dark themes. That includes super-hero movies, although he took a chance and really enjoyed Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. (Best. Movie. Ever. But I digress.) We both enjoy a good story well told, which means, for starters, that we don’t miss anything by Pixar.

Recently, we went to see Peanut Butter Falcon. I knew we were taking a chance that story could come up short. Hollywood likes its tropes, and stories that include people with disabilities can be super-tropey. But the star, Zack Gottsagen, has Down syndrome and the movie’s writing and directing team had a clear, deep understanding of self-determination for people with disabilities.

The story resonated with Sam. I watched Rain Man again recently on Netflix, and Sam drifted in and out of the room as it played. Dustin Hoffman was brilliant but he doesn’t have autism – and that matters. After Peanut Butter Falcon, Sam and I talked a lot about the story and the characters. We talked some after Rain Man, but not as much as with Peanut Butter Falcon.

Then I stumbled upon another movie, Keep The Change, which features actors with autism. The story line was authentic. Sam got to see adults with autism fall in love, and I cannot tell you what a gift it is to have that on the screen.

Movies are better when our world is fully reflected on the screen. In other words, a story will come up short if the character with a disability is there primarily to challenge the protagonist’s humanity. Movies, like any media, imprint and reinforce social constructs. I’m rooting for the stories that push our humanity toward justice – and love.

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Nancy LeMay on October 14, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    I love that Sam got to see a movie about love between two people with autism.

    • Peggy on October 15, 2019 at 12:52 am

      Imagine all the people, sharing all the world. — John Lennon

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