Does horror stigmatize disabilities and mental illnesses?


The year is 2016 where everything is racist, everything his sexist and anything can be viewed as being “problematic” Where people now demand safe spaces in metal mosh pits and eating Sushi is viewed as cultural appropriation. And virtual characters are made into ambassadors to solve real world problems. So what is next on the social issue list? Horror movies of course. Movie Pilot’s Jenika Enoch seems to think so, as she takes issue with the use of people with disabilities, deformities, and mental issues in the Horror genre. The two prime examples she uses? Scream Queens and American Horror Story. Ironically enough I predicted about a year ago that somewhere down the line someone will get offended by the content in Scream Queens:

“I can pretty much predict now that a lot of people are not going to like the satire, humor, racism and jabs at homosexuality. If you are like me and don’t take it seriously it’s hilarious, and like all good satire it breaks down barriers instead of puts them up. Scream Queens puts a comical spin on what was already comical about the 90’s slasher movies.” But clearly, people like the writer of this article and this person who started a petition on Change.org to remove the episode do not understand how comedy and satire works. In episode 2 of Scream Queens season titled: “Warts & All” Colton Haynes of Arrow fame stars as Tyler. Who is in the unfortunate position to be covered in bubble-like warts or if you want to put it scientifically. Type 1 Neurofibromatosis.

Even the people over at The Children’s Tumour Foundation had a hard time grasping the comedy and satire of the show. How many shows have we watched in the past that had people suffering from Neurofibromatosis in it? None, and I will be honest I never knew of this disease until I watched this episode and what would you know instant awareness! Something that The Children’s Tumour Foundation seems to have overlooked. A little-known disease got major air time on a show that pulls in over 2.7 million viewers per week. Something your extremely bland website can only dream of doing, having said that Scream Queens is supposed to entertain and provide escapism not educate there are other channels for doing that and creating awareness surrounding Neurofibromatosis.

And the second show the writer takes issue with is the 4th season of American Horror Story titled: “Freak Show” And for the record, I am not a fan of the show purely because it is more about shock value and “gore porn” than actual horror. But considering the title of the 4th season is entitled “Freak Show” you act surprised when it is filled to the brim with people who are disfigured and deformed? That is tantamount to walking into a strip club and complaining about nudity. I think it is a normal human behavior to be interested in unusual or obscure things, and that would obviously filter through into entertainment like Television and movies. You find it upsetting and unethical? Well, I don’t. If these actors were mentally deficient and being exploited I would be the first to object.

However, all these actors seem sound of mind so why not? And have you ever thought that these people find it empowering and uplifting to be actors in these shows? And for people who are visibly and physically different, it is not always possible to fit in with the rest of society. So sometimes standing out on purpose is the only way to can make a living and integrate themselves into society. I believe people with mental illnesses and physical deformities have a right to display themselves in movies or television shows if that is what makes them happy and pays the bills. They just like anyone else in Hollywood have the right to a career in acting if that makes them happy and pay the bills why not? Even if it makes people like the writer of the article uncomfortable.

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About larch

I am a cucumber in a fruit bowl.
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One Response to Does horror stigmatize disabilities and mental illnesses?

  1. Like many others, I suspect, I have difficulty in the presence of disabled people, so I welcome anything that helps us to better accept them as part of society – to bring them in from that limb where they are often left to dwell largely alone. For a disabled person to make a living as an actor is wonderful, and it is beginning to happen, especially in UK. Exploitation? No. It helps someone who has an impediment to face the challenges and gain in confidence – it inspires admiration in the rest of us.

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