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Child with Autism Connects with Kinect

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Hey everyone!

I found this interesting article about a child with autism able to play with a  gaming device called Kinect. In the past, he had trouble with other video games because of the controller. I looked up what Kinect was and found that it’s a new gaming device that’s controller free for the Xbox 360. It uses a sensor device with motion, face and word recognition. Players interact using hand, and body motions.

What’s your opinion on the article? What about Kinect and Autism?

Here is the link!

Written by library1288

November 12th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Nervousness in the media

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Drivers Abusing Laws on Disabled parking

Listen to this short clip about the upsetting rise in the number of people abusing the use of handicap passes that are not registered to them. What I found far more compelling than even this awful crime, was what the police had to say about the issue. They would rather let citizens commit these crimes than ask for identification or proof of issue for this tags because they are too scared of offending someone who might actually be disabled with a less readily apparent disability. This is a very concrete example of that idea of “nervousness” coming into play in real life.

What do you think about this? I think that maybe if I were disabled I would rather have an officer ask to see identification than be kept from parking in a handicap parking spot by someone who is not disabled but whom the police were to afraid to question. Do you think you would feel the same? What would you do in the position of the police?

Written by Mairin Martin

September 29th, 2010 at 12:32 am

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Robert’s (In)formal Blog Post on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

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Gilman’s imagery of the threatening yellow wallpaper reminded me of producer Guillermo del Torro’s latest film, El Orfanato (The Orphanage.)

(Guillermo del Torro produced the horror film, Pan’s Labyrinth.)

The first connection between the short story and the film was, of course, wallpaper. In the opening credits of the El Orphanato, the hands of very creepy children reach across the screen to rip chunks of blood red wall paper away to reveal darkness. At the end of the opening credits, the children’s arms reach out toward the audience. (Scary, no?)

More relevant to this course and this blog are the topics of disability, disfigurement, infantilization, and institutionalization. In El Orfanato, del Torro presents a horror story full of the ghosts of murdered orphans, one of whom was disfigured. The disfigured boy, Tomás, is hidden from the world. Even indoors and among his peers, he must wear a sack cloth painted with a clown’s face over his head. His ghost returns decades later when Laura, a former resident, buys the orphanage and moves in with her husband and son.

The orphanage itself is located by the sea in a very isolated and lonely area, much like the house in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” It is here that Laura’s son disappears, taken by the ghost children. The film plays off of the mysterious horror of Tomás’s disfigurement to shock and engage the audience. When his face is finally revealed in grainy home-video footage, the music and editing and initial shock make you jump.

Disability also comes into play after Laura breaks her leg and is confined to a wheelchair for several frightening nighttime haunting scenes. The film uses her relative immobility to heighten tension during these scenes: can Laura escape?!

Both Tomás’s disfigurement and Laura’s disability (after she recovers and leaves the wheelchair, she still has pain and limps slightly) are associated with the infantilized orphanage setting, the paternalistic indifference of Laura’s husband and local police force, and the otherwordly realm of ghosts and hauntings.

What implications result? Can you think of other instances in which disfigurement/disability are used/exploited by horror films/novels?

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/oXfHOY3CC0g" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Written by Robert

September 29th, 2010 at 12:31 am

Syrian Soaps and Longmore’s Telethon Dilema (A revised post)

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Hey, y’all! While checking out the BBC News website this afternoon, I came across this video about Syrian soap operasthat are beginning to “confront taboos and spark debate.” Below is the site’s summary of the video.

Ramadan is a time for prayer and reflection but it is also the most popular season to unveil new TV dramas in the Middle East.

Syrian soaps have become popular across the region in recent years due to their realistic plots which have also caused controversy.

Religious leaders in Syria have already called for one soap to be banned this year due to its hard-hitting storyline.

Lina Sinjab reports from Damascus.

Surprisingly, one of the examples of soaps that confront taboos are two soap operas that “talk about people with special needs.” The interviewee adds, “We didn’t talk about that before.” The video isn’t solely concerned with disability topics; however it is interesting to note the context in which disability appears here. A description of the taboos says that  they are “difficult to touch” in a public setting. Other examples of taboos in soaps are gay characters or characters critical of radical Islam.

Thoughts? This reminds me of our readings about the history of disability, specifically Western disability, and how the topic was/is a taboo and was/is associated with other taboos such as sexuality, ideology, or religious dissent.

Also, I’m curious to see if the portrayal of “people with special needs” on these Syrian soap operas is cliche, realistic, or a mixture. Perhaps the answer is obvious; they are, after all, soap operas.

As a psych major with an interest in cross-cultural psych and stigma associated with psychology, this video really gave me a lot to ponder.

Have a great weekend! Guess I just confirmed my nerd status by posting on a Friday afternoon. ; )

**BELOW you’ll find additional thoughts that I had on this topic after reading Longmore’s “The Cultural Framing of Disability: Telethons as a Case Study.” I originally posted this as a comment (also below!)***

…after reading Longmore’s “The Cultural Framing of Disability: Telethons as a Case Study,” I would argue that representations of disability on soap operas are similar to those on telethons.

Specifically, these representations share Garland-Thompson’s sentiments that “…The dominant mode of looking at the disability in this culture is staring” (502). Staring is precisely what people do when watching these representations on television. This staring, as Garland-Thompson theorizes, carries a lot of weight and “constitut[es] the starer as normal and the object of the stare as different, it creates disability as a state of absolute difference, rather than as simply one more variation in human form” (502).

As stated in my original post and as evident in the news clip, the object – disability in our case – created as a state of absolute difference is similar to the other “taboos” mentioned in the video (homosexuality, etc.) Just as Longmore argues in his article, these representations are very problematic because television “seems to posses even more truth-value than photography” (504).

Just as concerning is Longmore’s argument that “live television seems to posses even more truth-value than photography” and that “the seeming veraciousness of television masks the extent to which the makers of live TV manufacture the ‘reality’ of the present” (504).

When soap operas or telethons are some of the only representations of disability in a culture, then there is a risk that the very conveyance of this topic (television media) can skew the reality of disability.

Any ideas for improvements?

Written by Robert

August 27th, 2010 at 4:29 pm