Monday, June 27, 2016

Fishy Feels - How "Finding Dory" Does Disability Right

A few weeks ago, I wrote about disability in the media (or rather how disability is portrayed as a tragedy by media). In it, I said that stories about disability are mostly about how a disabled person affects others, and how all involved parties "struggle" with it and have to "persevere". And I wrote that the remedy to this is to tell stories from the disabled character's perspective and promote it like whoa.

I honestly didn't think that I'd see that kind of story would be done so soon. Nor would that story be hugely successful. And nor that that story would come from, of all places, Pixar.

My first thought upon hearing "Finding Nemo" would spawn a sequel called "Finding Dory" was the same as everyone else's - "Really? A sequel? Can't Hollywood come up with anything original?" It doesn't help that most sequels to movies tend to do nothing but spout the same story as the original without the original's magic and with nothing new to say. Even Pixar isn't immune to this rule: the sequels for "Cars" and "Monsters Inc." fell flat in comparison to their predecessors. And whenever a sequel happens to be good, it's because it expands on the first film and has its own story to tell.

"Finding Dory" succeeds for those reasons indeed, but it does something more. It tells of living with a disability and all the complications and strengths within it. And it did something that very few movies do - it made me profoundly relate to it and sob by the closing credits.

Why? To explain, there will be spoilers from here on out.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Me Before "Me Before You", Or Disability Doesn't Always Need to be Tragic

I'm not a big fan of sappy romantic dramas. While I will admit to being among the many who sobbed at the end "The Notebook" when I first saw it as a teenager, stories of people falling in love while something "greater" than themselves try to keep them from being together just feels tired to me. There aren't many ways to make this Romeo and Juliet narrative new and innovative, and the onslaught of these films in recent years (more often than not adapted from Nicholas Sparks books) just reinforce how tired this trope has become.

The recent entry into this genre, "Me Before You", initially looks the same. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, but will their love survive something neither of them can control? And like its contemporaries, it received mixed reviews upon release. But what makes this film different from its boring, tepid ilk is the "tragic" thing that complicates the boring couple's love:

The boy is a recent quadriplegic, and the girl is trying to prevent him from pursuing assisted suicide through the power of love.

*le sigh*