Disability representation

  • Created by: Shadow
  • Created on: 16-11-20 11:08
  • Representations of Disability

Barnes (1992) argues that mass media representations of disability have generally been oppressive and negative. People with disabilities are rarely presented as people with their own identities. Barnes notes several common media representations of people with disabilities:

  • In need of pity and charity – Barnes claims that this stereotype has grown in popularity in recent years because of television appeals such as Children in Need.
  • As victims – Barnes found that when people with disabilities are featured in television drama, they are three times more likely than able-bodied characters to be killed off.
  • As villains – people with disabilities are often portrayed as criminals or monsters, e.g. villains in James Bond films often have a physical impairment.
  • As super-cripples – Barnes notes that people with disabilities are often portrayed as having special powers or as overcoming their impairment and poverty. In Hollywood films, the impaired male body is often visually represented as a perfect physical specimen in a wheelchair. Ross notes that disability issues have to be sensational, unexpected or heroic in order to be interpreted by journalists as newsworthy…


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