As I was scrolling through Netflix, amazon prime and other online channels in my pyjamas procrastinating on writing this week’s blog post, I started wondering what I should write about.
It struck me that this post is going to be dedicated to writing about something that concerns every person watching any content online. Well known, online platforms like Youtube and Netflix have popular shows that depict different types of disabilities which is a really positive step towards spreading awareness as it viewed by people all over the world. These shows address important aspects of living with a disability such as the shame and social stigma in society.
Netflix, Youtube and Amazon Prime:
The shows portraying a disability is a positive step as it has opened a dialogue amongst people about topics and has represented an important section of society. A discussion about disabilities has come to the forefront with online web series on online channels like Netflix, Youtube and Amazon prime. There are shows like Autism in Love (2015), Netflix Original Atypical (2017), A Boy Called Po (2016) and Asperger’s Are Us (2016). This is one of the ways the online platforms try tackling issues such as lack of awareness. It’s one of the positive changes that has come due to the internet, whoever sometimes the portrayal of the disabilities depicted on the show can be misleading.
Thinking about it can be perceived as a very important issue as these misrepresentation and stereotypes are viewed by millennials worldwide, as with the digital era, now almost every millennial seems to have accessibility to online channels like Netflix now and these misrepresentations influence their perception. It has become an issue as people have started believing these inaccurate representationsThese shows aim to show its viewers the lives of people living with disabilities, although the fact that such content is being watched is a great thing as sensitivities people however sometimes the way the show depicts the disability is an inaccurate representation, giving people the wrong idea of the disability. In the Netflix original show Atypical (2017), the way they show the protagonist projecting his feelings towards his psychologist is a very unrealistic portrayal of Autism. The manner in which they portray him is not only unrealistic but also very problematic. He is depicted as a creepy stalker who breaks into their psychologist house in the middle of the night.
Mental Health Foundation:
That is why the Mental Health Foundation has urged supporters to sign an online petition calling on industry regulator Ofcom to change the way people with learning disabilities are represented on television and radio.
Jill Davies, research programme manager at the foundation, who plays an important role in this campaign, explains that “characters with learning disabilities are often depicted as being “vulnerable” and “disadvantaged”, with programme creators, all too often focusing primarily on the character’s disability.” Words such as “moron”, “retard” and “spastic” are often used on television programmes and can be regarded as extremely offensive.”
To get a more professional insight, I spoke to a therapist who works with children with disabilities. Her name is Nisha Aggarwal, she lives in Mumbai, India. My interaction with her was extremely engaging as one of the most important things she spoke about how these shows influence youngsters.
“People do not realise these shows might just influence the way millennials look at themselves. Producers and directors should be more careful about the content they create about such senstive topics.”
As a person with a learning disability personally I am really glad that such shows are being created, even though the representation is problematic I feel like at least it is a beginning. It is an attempt to make people more aware and understanding. I still remember when I was in school there was an autistic child in my class and unfortunately there were times where the children in my class made fun of him. Being a part of that class, I felt because they made fun of him because they did not understand his disability and were ignorant about it. I feel like if there was a show like this available at that time which was so easily accessible on a platform available to everyone. Maybe the children in my class would have been more sensitive towards him.
The video below is the trailer of the Netflix original show “Atypical”, I posted it because then you can get an idea of how disabilities are represented on such influential platforms.