About The New Disability Media

Changing a culture riddled with ableist norms. “Nothing about Us without Us: Disability Arts Now”

By Faye Ginsburg and B. Ruby Rich at Film Quarterly Dossier: This dossier has been inspired by an unprecedented and exciting surge in New Disability Media, a movement in which disabled filmmakers are at the forefront of the repositioning of figurations of disability, acting as both creators and subjects while deploying new aesthetic strategies. The following essays take up films, videos, online media, and installations, as well as the emergent theoretical approaches to evolving disability representations and authorship.

As this dossier was first conceived, CODA (Sian Heder, 2021), a film that was being feted with an Oscar, represented an increasingly problematic approach to disability. Along with many other critics of this film, Emerson Goo points out: “In CODA, deaf culture is portrayed as stubborn and provincial, and the Americans with Disabilities Act seemingly doesn’t exist.”1

“Crip elders”

The complete dossier in this issue is an energetic response to any such approach, an opening up of the field of film/media studies to works that may not win Oscars but instead do something more urgent: they break new ground in charting first-person representations that have too long been marginalized on- and off-screen, imagined to not be of general concern. Underscoring this point, Emily Watlington, in her recent essay “Nothing about Us without Us: Disability Arts Now,” writes:

“Aesthetics of access”

Disability-related concerns have long been written off as too niche, as affecting too few people, to deserve the limelight. But through cross-disability solidarity, artists and activists have formed myriad coalitions, following trails blazed by crip elders too numerous to name. With art as a primary weapon, they have demanded that their stories and perspectives infiltrate and change a culture riddled with ableist norms. 2

More here.

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