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When Billy Broke His Head

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Submitted By jclinch
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Reflections: When Billy Broke His Head
Billy Golfus, who suffered brain damage in a motorcycle accident, struggles to find ways to rejoin society and understand disability as a social category (Aufderheide, 1997).

Challenge of Personal Belief The theory “a person may be impaired, but it is society which causes disability” resonates with me. I agree with the concept of placing the person before the disorder. This assignment has made me take a hard look at how American culture describes impairment. A search on the Web for a synonym of “disability” finds words like: affliction, ailment, complaint, defect, disablement, disorder, handicap, impairment, infirmity. These are not positive words. Perhaps one day we will have the utopia Karl Marx envisioned, a classless society where everyone is equal regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion or impairment. Until then, a definite shift is required in the perception and definition of disability.
Portrayals of PWD Interviews were conducted with highly intelligent people who engaged in political activism, who were artists and individuals who wanted control over their lives and destinies. These are atypical of how PWD are portrayed in western mainstream society. In every person there exists the innate human power to overcome challenges, the will to succeed, the desire to feel accepted by peers, and the desire to be treated with respect. The quality of “overcoming” cannot be measured. In each individual case, the level of overcoming adversity is marked by specific challenges. However, generalizations may be made that adversity is part of life and the human condition. Every human being has something rare and powerful to offer the world. It is the intrinsic human ability to adapt which allows the rare and invisible aspect to display itself from potential to actual.
Difficult Scenes The scene in Chicago where people who use wheelchairs were protesting was a bit difficult to watch, particularly when the protesters left their chairs and crawled on the floor. The participants seemed so helpless and crawling on the ground just seemed so unbecoming and undignified (not normal). Social activism, civil rights movements and a rise in human consciousness has challenged the perspective of what is normal. In the American form of democracy people should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals, in some respect. What this implies is “some people are more equal than others.” We all have the same basic civil rights but not all members of our society are perceived within the context of true equality.
Film’s Discussion of PWD Binary oppositions between disabled and non-disabled are inaccurate and oppressive ideologies (Shakespeare, 1999), and the construction of disability as a binary and the placement of particular individuals on either side is a result of power relations and beliefs about ideal productive bodies and about notions of usefulness, independence, and social and economic contributions (Amster, 2009). The result is an “us and them” divide between producer and consumer, management and labor, rich and poor, male and female, black and white, and abled and dis-abled. Unregulated capitalism leads toward extremes of wealth and poverty, which are not only unjust in themselves but also destroy the foundations of democracy. The film did not discuss the relationship between capitalism and the oppression of PWD.

Ed Roberts’ Statement
Ed Roberts’ statement can be viewed as a form of ageism. Robert N. Butler (1969) first coined the term age-ism, described as the “ultimate prejudice” (Angus & Reeve, 2006). Ageism constitutes negative attitudes and behaviors directed at a specific age group. Butler (1969) described it as an “uneasiness” or “distaste” for growing old. The concept of “growing old” has been associated with decline and disability. People tend to view the aging population negatively. The aging process is accompanied by physical and psychological changes which may result in alteration of role expectations and ability (Saucier, 2004). Problems in adjustment are often aggravated among minority elderly populations due to their lower socioeconomic status and the effects of poverty and discrimination (Angus & Reeve, 2006). Through stigmatization and stereotyping a barrier is constructed between older people and the rest of society resulting in the reinforcement of ageism. References
Amster, R.: Contemporary anarchist studies: An introductory anthology of anarchy in the academy. London: Routledge. 2009.
Angus, J. and Reeve, P.: Ageism: A threat to “aging well” in the 21st century. Journal of Applied Gerontology 25 , pp. 137-152. 2006.
Aufderheide, Patricia, "Public Intimacy: The Development of First Person Documentary,"Afterimage, Vol. 25, No. 1, July-August, 1997.
Butler, R.: Age-ism: Another form of bigotry. The Gerontologist 9 , pp. 243-246. 1969.
Golfus, B., Simpson, D. E., Independent Television Service., & Fanlight Productions. (1994). When Billy broke his head: --and other tales of wonder. Boston, MA: Fanlight Productions.
Shakespeare, T.: The sexual politics of disabled masculinity. Sexuality and Disability. 17(1), 53–64 (1999).
Saucier, M.: Midlife and beyond: Issues for aging women. Journal of Counseling and Development 82 , pp. 420-425. 2004.…...

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