The Spoonie Thread: Media Representation

Welcome to the Spoonie Thread, a place for all your rants, ravings, and tales of medical woe. What’s a spoonie? It’s a person living with a chronic illness or disability. Spoon Theory is an explanation of how chronic health problems affect one’s ability to do everyday tasks. Spoonie life is a life in which opportunity costs are high, and it can’t always be Two Things.

(Note: I’m sorry I missed last week. There was a vertigo-induced spoon shortage. I think we’re back on track for a bi-weekly schedule.)

Spoonie News: X-Box has released a new adaptive controller. I think it looks pretty sweet. I’ve seen lots of homemade versions of this, but it’s nice to see a mainstream rollout of an adaptive device.

Other Spoonie News: Philadelphia has the highest disability rates of any large US city. Surprise! It turns out disability rates correlate with poverty rates.

“Nationally, nearly one-third of working-age adults who have a disability live below the poverty line. Figure 6 shows the 2016 disability rates for the 10 poorest cities with populations of at least 350,000. The average disability rate for these cities, each of which had a poverty rate of at least 22 percent, was 14.9 percent, compared with 10.8 percent for the 10 largest cities, most of which had poverty rates below 20 percent. Not surprisingly, the cities with the highest disability rates, Detroit and Cleveland, also had the highest poverty rates, which stood at about 35 percent for each in 2016. Those were the only two cities with disability rates higher than Philadelphia’s.”

Today’s Optional Topic: Do you see yourself represented in media? What are your biggest pet peeves about disability representation in pop culture?

My biggest pet peeve is that disabled characters often aren’t actually characters. They have no interiority, no personality traits or motivations beyond (the able-bodied writers’ idea of) being frustrated by limitations and prejudices. Disabled characters are either inspiration porn or they’re props inserted into the story so that the able-bodied main characters can learn some sort of moral.