Should we give "Ironside" a chance?

Does it matter that the new "Ironside", Blair Underwood, doesn't have a disability?

I'm going to take a clear, firm stand and say "Yes and No".

The first thing I want to know is whether the performance is good. If it's good … by which I mean some strong combination of authentic, realistic, nuanced, complex, and free of disability clichés … then I probably won't let the lack of a first-hand disability perspective ruin my enjoyment.

If, on the other hand, the remade Ironside looks and feels like a non-disabled person's idealized or ugly conception of what it's like to be disabled, then I'll have to wonder if a real disabled actor might have done a better job.

Going back to the "if it's good" possibility, that would still lead me to ask why a disabled actor couldn't have done even better. The reason being given by the show's creators is that they want to use lots of flashbacks to incidents in Ironside's life before his injury, so they need an actor who can play both in and out of the wheelchair. But, as astute disability blogger Wheelchair Dancer points out, lots of people use wheelchairs part time, and can both walk and wheel. If they couldn't find anyone who could do both and was a great actor, then fine. Did they seriously try to find one? Or did they automatically view wheelchair use as an either / or thing? She also notes that as it is, Blair Underwood has a stunt double, who could have worked with a disabled actor to do the walking and running flashback bits.

There's also this … Who says they need a "great actor" anyway? Right now, they have a known actor, Blair Underwood, who is known because really, he is very good. On the other hand, anyone who loves TV and movies will tell you that a "name" actor isn't a guarantee of quality, and that sometimes the deepest, grittiest performances come from actors you've never heard of before. Besides, I'm not sure the new "Ironside" is really aiming to be a "prestige drama" anyway. I'd be surprised if it turns out to be, say, similar to the "Battlestar Galactica" remake … though very pleasantly surprised if it is.

I love good TV, and I have a longstanding affection for the original "Ironside", so yes, I'm going to give it a chance and I do hope above all that the new show is good, solidly entertaining, and fresh, if not profound and deep.

One thing I'll need to do is listen carefully to how wheelchair users respond to the show. I have disabilities, but I don't use a wheelchair and I don't have a spinal cord injury, so I could miss some technical inaccuracies if there are any.

Ableism? Or Loss Of Privilege?

From a Wheelchairproblems tumblr post ...
"Hahahahha omg the ride from the airport to the hotel was so funny I can’t even. My stepdad thinks everyone is gonna kiss his ass and its just not like that."
I can only speculate on what exactly happened on that ride, but she might be hinting at something familiar to me: a somewhat privileged, sheltered person, used to being respected and treated well within a small community, suddenly exposed to how most people are treated when nobody knows who they are.

My Dad had an experience like that one time when he visited me. His car unexpectedly died, so he had to shop for a new one on short notice; he couldn't wait till he got back home. Although he had lived and worked here for decades, and was a widely known and respected physician here, he'd been away for over 15 years, so he was essentially a stranger in this town. When he walked into dealerships wearing his vacation casuals, they treated him like a random customer at best, at worst as a bum. It was a rude shock for him. He wasn't "Dr. Pulrang" anymore; he was just some guy, and kinda shabbily dressed to boot.

I've experienced something like this, too. Yes, I have disabilities, but most of the other metrics of my life place me well within the category of "privileged". For much of my life, despite some difficulties and disappointments, I was the sort of person with a disability who sincerely thought that the worst problem we face is people being too nice to us. You know ... condescension, baby talk, "you're such and inspiration."

I still haven't experienced much in the way of truly biting discrimination ... scores of failed job interviews, bureaucratic grilling, homelessness or opportunistic mugging ... but at 46, I've lived long enough to have experienced many situations where to others, I was just another weird guy … someone perhaps to be treated courteously, but to be pawned off as soon as possible. I've also been in many situations … as it happens, a lot in travel … where "epic fail" of accessibility features and accommodative services were the norm, rather than the exception, and where I was clearly just another annoying object to be moved and tidied away.

It makes me wonder whether anyone has done a sociological / psychological study of how well-off white people, in particular, react and adapt to the change in social status that happens when they (or their children!) confront a new disability. How much of what we call "Ableism" or "disability discrimination" us really us experiencing a loss of relative privilege?

Smart Ass Cripple Is Beautiful, Part A Million

I love when a story leads you somewhere unexpected.

What he's talking about has never happened to me. Maybe it's because I don't use a wheelchair. Or, maybe because I live in a fairly small town, where if people don't know me, they probably know my face and form. That kind of charity only really happens with strangers, I think. People can imagine the perfect recipient, but those illusions crumble as soon as they get to know the person a bit, and find out how complicated they really are.

Probability For Dummies

Just a reminder in light of news about the latest random mass shooting

IF the majority of random mass shooters have mental health impairments, it doesn't at all mean that the majority of people with mental health impairments are potential random mass shooters.

I don't know whether most or even many mass shooters are mentally ill anyway, though that's the impression left by news coverage. It seems like something that can be measured and known for sure, but I'm not sure where to find that information. But if it IS true, it says very little of any use about people with mental illness in general. It might, however, suggest that better understanding mental illness might help us understand random mass shooters, which might help prevent these terrible incidents.