Wheelchair in the Media

Recently I watched the music video for Jason Aldean’s “You Make It Easy” which if you haven’t seen it I recommend you do. Anyway it got me thinking about movies or television shows that feature someone in a wheelchair or “paralyzed” and whether it’s a misconception or a stereotype of sorts. I’ll be naming some concrete examples from movies or television. Obviously I can’t name every movie or show that feature this but rather ones I’ve seen or heard just the past few months. The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that it’s always an actor or actress playing the role of a wheelchair user such as Jason Bateman in the movie “The Ex” which he plays a paraplegic or Denzel Washington in “The Bone Collector” as a bed-ridden quadriplegic detective. If you are familiar with the Farrelly brothers or their movies such as “Dumb and Dumber”, “There’s Something About Mary” or “Shallow Hal” they actually cast a quadriplegic in their movies. His name is Danny Murphy and happens to be really good friends with Peter Farrelly. I first noticed him in the movie “Fever Pitch” and did a little research to find out that he is credited for many movies in which the Farrelly brothers have directed or produced. Murphy himself was an associate producer on a documentary called “CinemAbility” coming out later this year based on this exact topic. A popular wheelchair user in today’s television is Joe Swanson from “Family Guy”, which if you’ve seen the show, you know they poke fun at the disability. Joe essentially has no bones in his legs it would seem with how he can just aimlessly whip them around. Another big detail I’ve noticed is in some but not all, they use a regular hospital wheelchair which you can’t do. Every wheelchair is specifically made for the user based on measurements as well as certain specifications. At first it was kind of annoying but now I find it amusing that they haven’t done their research. I mean don’t you pay people for that kind of stuff? There’s a show I watch called “Life In Pieces” and the one episode the character brings his girlfriend breakfast in bed. She says “I wish I could eat every meal in bed.” His response, “they are called quadriplegics”. My first thought was totally not true. I met quadriplegics while at Magee that could move nothing but their heads that were controlling wheelchairs simply by using that movement. I’m not saying that 20 years ago those type of quads weren’t permanently bed-ridden like Denzel Washington’s character in “The Bone Collector” who has seizures and can move nothing but a finger. But like I said I feel there is a misconception about the disability in the media. These are just a few of the examples I’ve seen recently. Thanks for reading!


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