I've gone on before about the madonna/whore dichotomy of disability portrayal in miscellaneous forms of entertainment, such as TV series, movies, books, etc. And disability means either long-suffering saintliness or it's an outward manifestation of inner evil, leaving realistic portrayal of disability as just another facet of a person's life to… well,
Luke on The Amazing Race. Let's face it, in the first episode, nobody expected the deaf kid and his mother would be part of the final three. That they are in the finale is in large part due to Margie (the mother) rocking the challenges so thoroughly she could probably win this race all on her own, but also on Luke's competitiveness and fearless use of features of the race that people are normally too nice to use. It was his idea to U-turn another team very early on (for the uninitiated, that means they have to do an extra challenge, slowing them down and this team did get eliminated at the end of that leg of the race). One of the other racers, Mike, a writer, jokingly referred to Luke as "a new archetype - the sinister deaf kid." And although I wouldn't call Luke exactly sinister, he is a whole person (as much as you can be on reality shows which tend to edit people into characters) - he's annoying, competitive, funny, whiny and not afraid to get in people's faces, thus proving that sometimes, disabled people are assholes, too. If he wasn't deaf, more people would enjoy hating him, but I suspect most are caught up in not wanting to feel badly about the crippled guy. Me? I love the team and very much want them to win - they've run this race hard and like I may have mentioned, Margie rocks. (in case there are people out there who haven't seen last night's finale, I'm saying nutthin' about the result)
In last week's episode of Criminal Minds, the bad guy killed his victims with this truck and the reason he got that amount of distance between him and his target (apparently not a common aspect of serial killing) was that he was paraplegic. Hand controls appear to be the great equalizer. What was interesting about this was that the disability had very little to do with the motivation for killing. He believed that a red coupe has driven him and his wife off the road, severing his spinal cord and killing his wife and therefore targeted people who owned red coupes. In reality, he had fallen asleep at the wheel and once he realized this, he drove off a cliff. However! The disability was an interesting wrinkle that served to put up barriers to building a profile, because the unique aspects of the crimes were due to the killer making accommodations for his inability to walk. This man was not described as evil because he had a disability, the motivating factor was the death of his wife and the fact that he used a wheelchair was just part of him. It was very refreshing to for one see a character with the disability be the villain, but not in the lazy way it's usually done (coughDanBrowncough). In fact, it was so refreshing, I was almost able to ignore what Carrie (late addition - forgot to link. My bad) calls Morgan’s Eyebrows of Doom and since she told me about them a couple months ago, I haven't been able to not see them. Of course, I retaliated by calling her attention to Hotch’s Mouth of Constipated Anxiety, so perhaps we are even...