Supercrips versus the pitiful handicapped: Reception of disabling images by disabled audience members

Amit Kama

Abstract

Thirty Israeli disabled people were asked to describe their most memorable interactions with mass mediated images of disability as part of a tentative endeavor to delve into their reception patterns. Two stereotypes are discussed in this paper, namely the supercrip and the pitiful disabled. The interviewees seek examples to corroborate their belief that physical, social, and cultural obstacles can be overcome. Highly regarded supercrips embody one example as ‘regular’ (i. e., ‘someone like me’) people are especially coveted. Well-known, successful disabled people are put on a pedestal for their demonstrated ability to triumph. This triumph is used to validate the disabled individual and to alter societal perceptions. Consequently, the wish to see disabled who ‘have done it’ is particularly intense while the pitiful disabled trigger antipathy because they reproduce and reinforce disabled people's inferior positionality and exclusion.

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