The presentation of disability on Bones

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ThyneAlone
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The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by ThyneAlone » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:15 am

I was wondering whether anyone else had spotted this blog criticising Bones for its portrayal of disability, specifically through Hodgins' paralysis. I'm giving the link because I don't want to cherry-pick sections out of context. I know there has been a similar discussion about mental illness which I placed within the 'replacement for Zack' thread (because it was about HH's avowed preference for introducing a bipolar squintern), but this one is about all kinds of limitations and uses Jack's disability and the reactions around it as a starting point. It's persuasively argued but I'm sure some of us will wish to disagree with it! What do you think?

https://crippledscholar.com/2016/04/22/ ... k-hodgins/
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by skftex » Tue Apr 04, 2017 9:31 pm

Steph I saw this last year some time, and thought it was very interesting. However, she was writing it based on just season 11 knowledge. I think if she were to write a follow up she would no longer believe they should have just killed him off. Because in the end they did not do what the writer thought was going to happen. In the end it was actually a very positive portrayal I think for anyone with a disability because while Hodgins struggled at first, they showed him make the journey (well sort of, it was a little too fast but it is TV) from struggling to deal with the situation to accepting it, to showing that his life continued and was still a full, positive life. There was no miracle cure, and can I say, TJ did not not want that to happen. So while I feel the writer did a good job explaining why she felt the way she did at that time, I think that the story as it played out is not relevant to her argument. :smile:
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by ThyneAlone » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:22 pm

Yes, I spotted it a while ago too but I was wondering to what extent people agreed or otherwise with the general points made. It isn't all about Hodgins of course, but mentions the use of disability as a contrived plot device in TV shows in general to shake things up a bit, alter relationships, keep viewer interest, in what is mostly and inevitably a false representation or a caricature of disability. It's a kind of shortcut or cliché. I would imagine the writer is probably now quite irritated that Angela and Hodgins are so happy with their pregnancy and that the trauma they went through when their genetic dysfunction was discovered seems to have been abandoned with a facile speech from Angela about how things work out and the baby can live happily even if he/she is blind.

Yes, we can argue about the things she predicted that didn't happen, but actually one of them did; acceptance. That was probably the best and most realistic writer choice, but I imagine even that happened a bit too quickly and superficially for this particular blogger. With such a big thing happening to Hodgins, I too am inclined to say that more time needed to be taken to move him realistically through the experience.

She mentions the autistic coding of Brennan and several of the interns (and Colin Fisher's issues with depression of course). I feel with the interns it was just a matter of making each easily recognisable by giving them a particular habit or obsession, and that was slightly lazy writing!
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by skftex » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:24 am

Okay Steph, now I think this is not the same one I read, but it has the same headline so I didn't read it thinking it was the same one. If it is I don't remember it the way I thought it was, but I don't remember all the other stuff in the one I read. But then I do sometimes only read the Hodgins bits in things. ;) So basically this person gave them no way to write the character that would make her happy. He couldn't continue being angry, he couldn't eventually accept it, basically all he could do was die. Of course, I wouldn't have made it to season 12 if that had happened so I think maybe I just don't get where this person is coming from.
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by ThyneAlone » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:54 am

skftex wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:24 am
So basically this person gave them no way to write the character that would make her happy. He couldn't continue being angry, he couldn't eventually accept it, basically all he could do was die. Of course, I wouldn't have made it to season 12 if that had happened so I think maybe I just don't get where this person is coming from.
I think it probably is the same one! It is more thoughtful than the inflammatory headline would suggest, but you are right, I'd say; having now read a number of this person's posts (and they are very persuasive and intelligent) I do get the feeling that she probably dislikes most representations of disability in the media because they necessarily have to be less subtle, more rushed and more inclined to short cuts and soundbites than she would like. She finds them patronising and inadequate, ignorant of the real disability experience, and opposes ideas that most people would accept without thinking (eg where most 'outsiders' would think a label was a bad thing because it looks at an individual in terms of his/her condition, she promotes labels as a way of helping children understand what makes them different and handle that while they are growing up).

Now I don't accept all these views. Remember that I suffer from mild epilepsy and have moderated an epilepsy support board, and have not only a son who has had language processing difficulties as a result of the medication I had to take during my pregnancies, but a husband who has had numerous episodes of clinical depression. So I do know that society and the media are inclined to soundbites which are often just plain wrong, particularly with regard to less 'visible' disability (I frequently have to explain to pupils, as recently when teaching an experimental VR lesson, that only a relatively small proportion of epilepsy sufferers are photosensitive and that there are other types of seizure than the full-on tonic-clonic. And that it's a physical condition, not a mental one). I also am aware that sometimes fundraising and 'awareness' days/weeks/months are geared to give donors a warm feeling of satisfaction rather than actively raise understanding of these problems - which is something else the blogger points out in another post - but for me that does not make them less valuable.

I think Jack's paralysis has been played beautifully, not least because of TJ's commitment to his role, consummate skill in conveying it and thoughtful preparation for it - and I have believed in it totally. I do have some concern about Angela's reaction to her pregnancy - I'm sure a second 'risk' would still cause some worry. Equally I didn't much like the comedy at Danny Woodburn's expense in S2, although Danny himself, portraying an interesting and genuine character, was seemingly not too bothered about it, as it was there to express Brennan's lack of social graces rather than turn him into a stereotype/figure of fun.
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by Blazewoman84 » Sun Jan 20, 2019 6:56 pm

I wish they had done more disabilities. My son has Aspbergers Syndrome which, let's face it, Brennan and a few interns probably had it, but they never came out and said it. That would have been a great role model for people with Aspbergers. I have Fibromyalgia Syndrome which is a chronic pan syndrome like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I hardly ever see any TV show with someone that has FM or CFS. The only one I remember was Golden Girls. They wouldn't have to have Primary Fibromyalgia like I have. They could have Regional or Secondary in the show. Primary would have to be done from a wheelchair. I'd love to see more shows with different disabilities.
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by Daniela » Tue Jan 22, 2019 7:27 pm

@Blazewoman I don´t know which country you´re from but there´s a TV show called "Professor T" (which will start to be translated / broadcasted in various countries now). The main characters role has autism and he plays it really well. If you´re familiar to the topic you will notice. May keep an eye open for it. This about off topic a bit. Back to Bones: Yes, also Zack had asperghes symptoms for me. I don´t know why the producers never named it like that. Sometimes I think they want to leave illnesses to hospital TV shows, like it´s enough there, no one wants to see but it´s two different pairs of shoes seeing them as a patient or managing daily business with all the struggles and successes. But honestly, show me a TV show where the characters even wear glasses, if it isn´t for "Nerd" roles, eventhough 67 % of people need glasses age of 35+. Okay, getting off topic again, sorry. :smile:
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by AlvaroKan » Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:52 pm

I'm going to check out Professor T as well. I'm very interested in the subject, especially if the actor nailed the role of an autistic person. Have to admit, not heard of that show yet.
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Re: The presentation of disability on Bones

Post by Daniela » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:59 pm

AlvaroKan wrote:
Tue Jan 29, 2019 12:52 pm
I'm going to check out Professor T as well. I'm very interested in the subject, especially if the actor nailed the role of an autistic person. Have to admit, not heard of that show yet.
I don´t know if it´s available in the USA yet. In fall they started the synchronisation process. If you catch it at any time, let me know what you think :)
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