Journal Title: Wide Screen
Vol. 9, No.1, July 2022
Abstract: Although people with disabilities constitute one of the world’s largest minorities, Hollywood portrayals leave the question of inclusivity unanswered. This paper explores the ability of Netflix Original Series, Special, and the short film, Jeremy the Dud to fill the gaps of marginalization, oversimplification, and underrepresentation of disability. Both entertainment media display a focus on the lives of characters with physical disabilities performed by disabled actors. In doing so, they allow viewers insight into the world from the perspectives of people
who live amongst us, but who are not considered equal because they are deemed to lack some essential characteristic/s.
However, as much as each film is successful in giving visibility to historically underrepresented groups, the treatment of disability retains an element of marketability for the sake of entertainment and therefore suffer the same pitfalls common to most Hollywood-type portrayals. This paper analyses the visual, ethical, and narrative implications of representing disability in Special and Jeremy the Dud. I locate the successes and shortcomings of each series within the general problem of film representation. Through consideration of disability studies, film analysis,
and studies in humanism, I explore the partial accommodation given to marginalized groups who – despite their increasing visibility on-screen – continue to be underrepresented and oversimplified.
Keywords: Disability, Film, Disability Studies, Underrepresentation; Special; Jeremy the Dud