Sling Blade

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Sling Blade. I saw the movie as a part of the Disability Awareness Week held by the office of Disability services where I work. The movie was supposed make me aware of people with disabilities. It was beyond that for me. It made me think of the term ‘disability’ itself. While I was watching the movie the label jumped from one ‘abled’ individual to another rather than sitting point blank on Karl, our supposed ‘retarded’ protagonist. The movie has a load of critics pointing fingers at it for several reasons. I personally found that it made me question a lot of issues other than disability. While researching about the movie I found a couple of discussion questions that moved beyond my perspective of the movie. It helped me think more holistically.

Discussion Questions:

1. The disabled are portrayed as innocent and child-like; savants; isolated and pathologized; self-sacrificing saviors; asexual and dependent; and violent. Why?

2. Even if movies such as Sling Blade might affect the lives of "normal" people in some way, why should we study such things in the humanities and liberal arts, should we?

3. What disability? Who is disabled? What is “Normal’

4. Instead of writing about Sling Blade –about the social oppression Karl faces and about some stereotyped notions it portrays-- wouldn't we be better off lobbying our legislators in Washington?

5. Actors who are not disabled portray disabilities. Sling Blade is also criticized on this account. Comment.

6. The idea of cures links disability with illness. Fine and Asch (1993) argue that one of the key assumptions made about individuals who are disabled is that the ‘disability is located solely in biology, and thus is accepted as an independent variable’ (p. 45). Comment.

These questions bring about varied reactions and synthesizing it is a challenge. I would encourage readers to keep these questions in mind while/after watching the movie and think about possible answers. Let the curtains roll!

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