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More than one in ten Americans live with an apparent disability. If you consider invisible disabilities, that number goes up to 1 in 4. Yet, the portrayal of disability in popular culture, like characters in blackface, is often based on stereotypes lacking depth or understanding of the disability experience: exaggerated caricatures of heroes, victims, sidekicks, and villains. Increasingly, these portrayals impact not only the success or failure of creative endeavors, but also impact individual lives.
The protests for the film “Me Before You” are an example of this, and the perception of the value of people living with chronic health conditions during COVID is a reminder of this. Using examples from the publishing industry, independent film, popular culture, and a dash of humor, we will examine disability in media and discuss how to develop authentic disabled representation.
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