When I first started receiving emails about this, I wasn’t even going to dignify it with a response. But when it started crawling into my local newspaper, I decided I had to say something.
Apparently there’s some movie called “blindness” that’s coming into theatres near us. Members of the national Federation of the Blind saw it and were mortally offended because they feel the movie portrays blind people as monsters who are unable to care for themselves and roll around in their own waste. Now they’re trying to get as many folks to picket the movie as they can.
Heres’ the plot summary. This is all I know about the movie. I haven’t seen the thing, nor have I read the book.
Based on the 1995 novel by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, “Blindness” imagines a mysterious epidemic that causes people to see nothing but fuzzy white light — resulting in a collapse of the social order in an unnamed city. Julianne Moore stars as the wife of an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) who loses his sight; she feigns blindness to stay with her husband and eventually leads a revolt of the quarantined patients.
So really, blindness isn’t the central thing they’re talking about, it’s any kind of breakdown of civilization. to me, that sounds like “lord of the Flies” with a blind twist instead of being trapped on an island. It’s the idea that if something weird happened to a bunch of people and their environment was drastically changed, it’s human nature to freak and turn into animals. Yup, that’s a pretty accurate assessment, I think. Look at how people behaved during Hurricane Katrina. Look what happened when SARS broke out. Granted SARS wasn’t as bad, but everybody was afraid to go to Toronto, people were walking around with masks and there was a lot of fear. I think any of us can come up with other causes of mass-hysteria. Just name your disease, halt of service, or other massive change of life, and we intelligent homosapiens don’t cope well.
I think the NFB needs to go look up the word metaphor. Even I can see that the author is not trying to say that blind people are beasts. When I told Steve about this, he said they could have made the exact same movie, except called it “gimpness.” In the movie, a rare plague would cause one of people’s limbs to fall off, leaving them unable to walk around. Heaps of the afflicted would be found at the bottoms of stairs and doors would be shattered by folks hurling their bodies through since they were unable to walk. It would make the same point. would people actually watch that movie and believe that that’s how amputees operate? No! No way! They would know that they were using the loss of a limb to make a point. It’s the same here.
I know that we already deal with stupid stereotypes and that a lot of people think we can’t do stuff, but I really don’t think that would change if this movie wasn’t played, and this movie isn’t going to make them worse. Anyone with afunctioning brain knows that this is not about blindness. It’s about the breakdown of society due to a sudden, huge change. And guys at the NFB, losing vision would be a huge change, just as big as if one of my legs fell off tomorrow. The difference is usually, a few people lose their vision, not a mass. A few people can adapt and society doesn’t break down. But I think the NFB would have to concede that if, in the real world, an entire country went blind, there would be chaos.