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Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Disability in Television

Keeping Up With The Kardashians and Disability in Television

There’s a long history of problematic representation of persons with disabilities in film and television. From being portrayed as villainous or helpless (see Darth Vader and Tiny Tim) to being used as inspiration fodder or the butt of a joke (Forrest Gump), persons with disabilities have often been used as plot devices rather than being portrayed as human beings. However, despite this long-standing trend, things are changing.  Arguably one of the best television shows of all time, Breaking Bad, did wonders for representations of people with disabilities with the...
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Why Are We Lonely and What Can We Do About It?

Why Are We Lonely and What Can We Do About It?

More than 37 million people are living in Canada, yet many Canadians have never felt more alone. The Angus Reid Institute and the Cardus think tank collaborated on a recent study that found that an astonishing 23 percent of the country experiences extreme loneliness and social isolation. That isolation correlates with many negative side effects that can have an impact on every area of a person’s life.   “Social isolation and loneliness are a symptom of our culture’s obsession with personal autonomy, leaving us living life as ‘I’ instead of ‘we,’” said Cardus...
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Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings And Representations Of Multiple Sclerosis

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings And Representations Of Multiple Sclerosis

When it comes to representation of people with disabilities in film and television, we’re progressively starting to see some growth and change. But while we’re starting to do away with the harmful tropes of the past, there’s still a lot of work left to be done.  People with disabilities – be it an addiction, mental illness, neurological condition, or physical disability – tend to be forced into certain categories. For the most part, they’re used more as plot devices than characters in their own right. In this way, their humanity is stripped from them, and...
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Selena Gomez and Disability Visibility

Selena Gomez and Disability Visibility

It can be difficult to live with a disability, especially an invisible disability, in a world that treats them as something to hide, mask, or be ashamed of. They’re not, and it’s high time we shifted the how we think about those with disabilities. Some celebrities are helping to shed that stigma by making their own disabilities more visible, and not shying away from being part of the public discourse. Selena Gomez is a shining example of this.  At about 20 years old, Gomez was diagnosed with lupus. A chronic autoimmune disease, lupus essentially causes the body to...
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Realistic Terror Of PTSD In Horror Movies

Realistic Terror Of PTSD In Horror Movies

When it comes to representations of disabilities in pop culture, there’s often a risk they’ll be problematic. Whether it’s an oversimplified depiction of a heart attack with clearly visible symptoms or a reductive portrayal of depression, these depictions can be harmful by giving the general public the wrong impression. Lately, however, we’ve seen accurate, engrossing, and heartbreaking depictions of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in one specific niche of pop culture; horror movies.  It should come as no surprise that horror is a great home for accurate...
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How Celebrities Change the Profile of Mental Illness

How Celebrities Change the Profile of Mental Illness

A mental health issue like anxiety or depression is a perfectly legitimate basis for a disability claim, especially if it interferes with regular workplace responsibilities. Unfortunately, people have powerful misconceptions about what a person with depression is supposed to look like, and can be dismissive of those who don’t fit the expected profile. That can be particularly true in the case of celebrities, many of whom have been increasingly forthcoming about their struggles with mental health. Justin Bieber, for instance, recently took to Instagram to reveal that he...