On ‘Glee,’ the guy in the chair doesn’t really need one
From the Associated Press:
Disability advocates in Hollywood say the hit Fox series “Glee,” represents yet another missed opportunity. The show hired Kevin McHale, an actor without a disability, to play the role of Artie, a paraplegic high school student.
“I think there’s a fear of litigation, that a person with disabilities might slow a production down, fear that viewers might be uncomfortable,” CSI’s Robert David Hall told AP. “I’ve made my living as an actor for 30 years and I walk on two artificial legs.”
Disability rights activists say television casting doesn’t accurately reflect American society. About twenty percent of Americans have a disability, but a recent study found that fewer than 2 percent of the characters on television do. More than a third of performers with disabilities reported facing discrimination in the workplace.
“Glee” regularly celebrates diversity, and Wednesday’s episode featured a feel-good scene in which all the glee club members performed a dance routine in wheelchairs to demonstrate solidarity with Artie.
Show creator Ryan Murphy told the Los Angeles Times (with video of McHale dancing) that Wednesday’s episode represented a turning point for the show. “Writing this made me feel the responsibility of showing the truth of the pain that outcasts go through,” he said. “It’s not all razzle-dazzle show business. It’s tough, and it’s painful, and it was for me growing up, and it is for most people. So I think this made me realize that amid the fun and the glamour, it’s really great now and again to show the underbelly of what people who are different feel.”
(Photo from the New York Post)