Have you seen the ABC show Speechless? It’s a comedy about the day-to-day life of a teenage boy—JJ—who has cerebral palsy. He and his family deal with everyday normal situations just like any other family, but they often encounter and deal with misconceptions based on JJ’s disability. That leads to the show featuring issues that many people don’t know about, and the latest topic to get that spotlight was inspiration porn.
How Can Inspirational Disability Videos Be Insulting?
The term inspiration porn doesn’t refer to some sort of explicit video on the internet. It refers to using people with disabilities as inspirational material. Many people think this is endearing, but it often insults the individuals being used or insults people like them. Internet videos are often where we see this happen a lot. They portray people with disabilities as saints to learn life lessons from when most of them are just living their lives. This makes many people with disabilities feel like their lives are being reduced and condescended upon, and they don’t like that.
In Speechless, the main character’s brother—Ray—wants to use his brother’s disability as a story to win a speech contest. JJ refuses to be used like that, but changes his mind when he sees one of Ray’s classmates pretending to be JJ’s friend to win the contest. The brothers decide to fight fire with fire and come up with their own inspirational speech to outdo the classmate.
When it comes time to deliver the speech, Ray sees how much people are pitying his brother and he can’t go through with it. He tells the audience that his brother is just a normal person who can sometimes be a jerk, and loses the contest by shattering people’s illusions. However, JJ couldn’t have been more proud.
There are plenty of people with disabilities out there who actually do things to inspire others, like Stacey Kozel. However, inspirational videos that praise people with disabilities just for living their lives can be insulting. For more info on the disability community and the importance of hearing their voices, keep following our blog, Facebook and Twitter.
A message from the Tulsa disability attorneys at Troutman & Troutman Attorneys at Law.