not your inspiration
October 29, 2021 10:00 AM   Subscribe

#CriticalAxis is a community driven project from The Disabled List that collects and analyzes disability representation in media, including ads from companies such as Toyota and IKEA. All too many are "Inspiration Exploitation" or focus on the "charity" bestowed upon the recipient. The project also highlights examples of "crip humor" and media informed by the social model of disability.

Created in response to the dominant Medical Model of Disability which presumes ‘we are disabled by our bodies’ and dependent on health professionals for cures or maintenance, the Social Model of Disability highlights how we are disabled by the world around us.
posted by spamandkimchi (4 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
What a thoughtful, useful project! I'll have to keep it in mind for sharing purposes later. I was really quite sad the "crip humor" category only had two adverts in it, one of which ("Dance Floor") had been withdrawn for copyright on YouTube, because I love jokes like that that... you know, reflect the world I see around me and the people I care about. TikTok seems to be pretty good for finding that kind of humor, at least from the autism end of things; a friend of mine sent me this one this morning, and I've been really enjoying this one-two set from Joe Wells.

I like many of the categorical definitions they've chosen to use, too. The framing of "consumer model" in this case of commercials that approach disabled people like a market worth catering to is an interesting one, especially when you think about the ways that even products designed specifically for disabled people are often marketed specifically for people who don't have the disabilities the product was designed to help with. A lot of infomercials suddenly make a lot more sense when you realize that this is what's going on, and it's nice seeing the inverse directly pulled out and made clear here.
posted by sciatrix at 11:34 AM on October 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Interesting that there's a 100% overlap between Crip Humor and Disabled Sexuality.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:46 PM on October 29, 2021

There's also only one advert under "Cultural Pluralism" that isn't one of the two Malteasers ads that show up under Crip Humor and Disabled Sexuality. It's called "Sady." (The two Malteasers ads are "Dance Floor" and "New Boyfriend." )

Something I didn't notice yesterday because the website seems to have some loading issues in my browser* is that all of the episodes are transcripted below, with useful little analyses of each and commentaries about how each ad was received. The two ads from Malteasers that feature in all three categories got massive backlash from presumably abled consumers, quite a lot of which was rooted in discomfort about disabled characters' sexuality and "forced inclusiveness"; the one that played for me yesterday was actually in the top ten complained about ads in the UK the year it played.

One of the things I suspect about the reason for the overlap is that bluntly desexualization of disabled people is a massive component of dehumanization of same. Broadly speaking, media tends to feature adult disabled people as either "hyperchildren" whose lives are far too innocent and inspiring to contain sex. When sex does enter the story in the context of a disabled character, the scenes tend to be portrayed in terms of rape, monstrosity, or both at once. It's not great!

It kind of makes sense to me, then, that the writers for an ad campaign that is trying to get across "we're not like that!" in one go as quickly as possible went for two jokes that deliberately point out the enthusiastic sexuality of disabled women in a very humanizing way. It's a very pointed, direct, compact refutation of these dehumanizing ideas. And because, well, ads that are trying to appeal to disabled people are thin on the ground, it kind of makes sense that you'd really only see these very pointed but risky strategies in the context of an entire ad campaign devoted to disabled people, as this Malteasers campaign was.

I have some further thoughts about "Sady" as well, which is also very interesting, but don't want to suck all the air out of the room. In some ways it is way more targeted at a non-disabled audience than the two Malteasers ads are.

*it works much better in Chrome than Firefox, I discovered this morning
posted by sciatrix at 6:36 AM on October 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

This is great, thanks for sharing. I like the XY graph- you can pick any of the headings on it, watch a video, form your own critique, then read the more sophisticated critique below. This is my favourite way to learn- I'm going to enjoy this site.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 10:20 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

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