Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Switched At Birth: Andrea's Take
(Remember as you read this that I'm writing it before the 'event' happens)
I wasn't the audience!
I didn't exist there and I didn't exist here.
THAT'S WHAT WAS WRONG!!!
I didn't understand it until I read Andrea's blog post about the first all silent, all sign episode of an American Television programme. Switched At Birth will break new ground tonight. Andrea is well known to readers here as she frequently comments and often her comments add new dimensions to what I've written about. As I was reading her post describing the first time she 'met herself' in a book ... I was drawn to remember.
Joe and I went to see a movie called A Different Story and were excited to see a movie that had been trumpeted as having gay characters in what was being coyly called a love story. We sat there, horrified at what we saw. These weren't gay people, these weren't people we knew, they sure as hell weren't like Joe and I. The whole thing seemed like this massive betrayal. Worse, we sat in a theatre full of straight people who were lapping it up, loving the story of a gay man and a lesbian woman who fell headlong into heterosexuality as their hearts found each other. I felt so utterly disenfranchised. Didn't they even think of talking to some gay people, didn't they think that maybe gay men and lesbian women might be actually gay men and lesbian women. I couldn't understand why they did what they did.
Until I read Andrea's piece.
As she described being told that the deaf little girl in the story wasn't there for her ... she was there for hearing girls. Andrea wasn't in the audience - the writer never considered that there would be a little deaf girl reading the book. The writer couldn't conceive of deaf people as AUDIENCE. And as a result, they had no, that's none, responsibility to ... a little girl named Andrea.
The same was true for the movie we watched that day. It wasn't made for me. No only was there, at the time, no representation of 'me' on the screen there was no consideration of 'me' in the audience. It has been with the discovery of gay people as 'audience' as 'market group' that things have changed. That and watchdogs like GLAAD which now carry a big stick and that stick is ... our wallets and our voices - as audience. Comedians and commentators who use the 'R' word fear little in the way of reprisals because they are speaking to an audience that they understand to silently endorse their language ... because we, as of yet, have been excluded from the audience.
But that's changing isn't it?
We are becoming more visible and more vocal. We are beginning to ditch 'the attitude of gratitude' and adopt and 'expectation of respect.' This is a change that has been long in coming. And it's about time.
Tonight, at the end of Swtiched At Birth, there will be one hand clapping and one hand signing 'finally' ...