4/28/2013

Value and Angst

It's so close to being over, I count it as good as done. April dragged on, left me addled and frustrated, angst all mixed up with impotence.

Stories on the news talked about sufferers, bemoaned the families enduring their children's afflictions, and repeated Autism Speaks paranoid factoids over and over.

It even caught us in older shows, watched on Netflix; an episode of Numb3rs with a copycat Rainman and his exploitative relative had me yelling at the tv set pointlessly, as the damage was done years ago and can't be undone. I  watched the first episode of Hannibal, and had to hear autism invoked again, super powers attached, of course.

I don't mind having autistics better represented in the media, with more autistic characters. That's great and echoes the rise of gay and lesbian friendly characters in television. We need to see more diversity across the board, but they should be fully realized characters.

But, and here's the thing, is there really that much difference between an autistic superhero/savant (Touched, Hannibal) and inspiration porn. Isn't it what Stephen King's done for years in his novels, made the special needs individual the hero with mystical powers beyond the normals' ken?

It's a comfort, I guess, for some to imagine that those who appear to be unlucky enough to be different, to be disabled, to have some commensurate gift or skill that the normals can only dream of.

We like that--our literature, our fiction, our stories are all full of those with powers that rely on a state of difference.

It's hard to stomach the idea that someone could be severely disabled, non-verbal and completely dependent on someone else and not have some super ability to make up for that. It's that fairy tale emphasis, though, that most robs those who need assistance the most of their natural, innate value as human beings.

They aren't here to inspire normal people. They aren't here to serve anyone else's needs.

They are here for the same reason the rest of us are: we were born. Their meaning, their purpose, ought to be derived in the same way we derive our own: we decide our own meaning, our own purpose. Our value is not dependent on what we can do for others, what we can teach others, what we can show others. And how we value other people shouldn't be, either.




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