October 16, 2008

Commentary: The Movie Blindness and the Blind

So my loyal visitors will remember that a few months ago, I attended a national convention for the blind and visually impaired called the National Federation of the Blind. You can read about my take on this experience here. In any case, attending that convention opened my eyes to how this group of people looks at the world. In many cases, very differently! For example, many people in American are excited about energy-efficient cars. The blind see them as death machines. Because they tend to be silent or quieter than a gasoline-driven car, the blind have trouble hearing these and many blind have been killed or injured.

So, not too long ago a movie came out called Blindness. Keep in mind I haven't seen this movie. In short, the movie is about a place where all people start going blind. The city feels like it could be catching, so they quarantine all the blind people in one prison. As the new people try to deal with their blindness, they begin to act like animals, becoming more and more cruel.


I do keep up with movies, so even though I wasn't planning on seeing it, I watched the trailer. Something caught my attention. At the end of the trailer, the catchline is "The only thing more terrifying than blindness, is being the only one who can see." Hmmmm, okay, this made me start thinking. What kind of message is that sending about blind people? The only thing more terrifying than being blind??? Does that mean there is no more horrible fate than losing your sight? Also, is blindness a disease? In this movie, they call blindness the white sickness. Yikes! I was wondering if my blind friends from the NFB were aware of this movie and how they felt about it. I didn't have to look hard to find out. On the main page of their website, I found this article. Basically, they have taken a public stand against this movie.

Many people might think they are being too sensitive, but I think I can see where they are coming from. Again I haven't seen this movie and am not planning on doing so, but I have read viewers reviews. In this world, the people that become blind are totally helpless and can't even find a toilet or get dressed. I was just reading some comments from people on the IMDB message board, and one comment said that a blind person shouldn't have a baby because they couldn't take care of a it. That's just not true. Blindness does not impact the ability to have children, use the bathroom, dress yourself, or a million other things.

I just thought it was interesting how this group of people would view this movie. Have any of my readers seen it? I hope that this movie won't cause a continuation of prejudice towards the blind.

3 comments:

Jayson said...

I just happened across this post while trying to find the name of this movie. I just watched it, and, I'm sorry, but how anyone could consider this an insult to a person who is blind is beyond me.

Imagine a whole city going blind, and some of those people being tossed in a prison without any assistance except for having a limited amount of food made available. Mind you, these aren't people that had any life experiences being blind, or received any counseling - they just, became blind and were tossed together, group by group, and told to fend for themselves. And we're not just talking about people that are educated, who go to conferences - we're talking about any hoodlum that may be picked up off of the street. How do you think they will react when all they know that is power equals right, and whoever has the power is right? Now imagine being the only person that could see their own government not doing a damn thing, telling them, tough, deal with it yourself. Sounds like a pretty daunting task to me.

I would urge you to see it to form your own opinion about the film. Now, it may be unplausible, and if you want to criticize the film for that, go right ahead. But to say that it is in any way slanderous to the blind community (most of whom probably receive immense support, especially compared to the characters in this film), seems totally preposterous.

Zee said...

Jayson, I appreciate you leaving a comment. I can understand that you might not find the movie insulting but just remember that you and I aren't blind either, or are you? You never said. My point of writing this is that we don't always know what a person's experience is. And I think it's pretty strong evidence that the NFB themselves wrote a public article against this film and encouraged its members to boycott the film. I am not saying they are right or wrong, but I myself didn't understand many of their views until I attended the conference. I think the issue for them is does being blind mean becoming suddenly immoral and an animal? Do you suddenly use your blindness as an excuse to be cruel? I know the author meant this as an allegory that blindness equaled not communicating with others. What I really wanted to do was try to educate the public about the NFB and that we need to consider their views. It was not meant as an insult to the movie itself.

Jayson said...

I know what you mean, but in regards to what you said, "Do you suddenly use your blindness as an excuse to be cruel?" misses what I said. The people that were good, did good things, wanted to help others, etc. The people that did bad things were people that were already bad.

No, I am not blind, so I cannot speak from that frame of reference. On the other hand, the people that individuals or groups that spoke out against this film that are blind, I am pretty sure, did instantly become blind and get tossed in with a hundred other blind people, left to fend for themselves.

In my opinion this film had little to do (relatively) with being blind, and was more of an exploration into the human psyche and sociology.

As I said, I think you should watch the movie to decide for yourself. The scene you are talking about is less than a minute long. If you need to, have a friend watch it with you who has seen it so they can mute it and tell you to turn around, because, yeah, it was kinda brutal.