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Diane Shipley: Sick Women...Chronic Illness Narratives

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS news' started by MsUnderstood, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. MsUnderstood

    MsUnderstood Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Here's a link to another article that discusses the recent change in how those with chronic illnesses and disabilities are depicted in both news articles and pop culture:



    "Over the last 18 months, there’s been a revolutionary increase in the number of sick women onscreen. Unrest, Jennifer Brea’s documentary about how the debilitating neurological illness Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) turned her from an active doctoral student to a bedridden patient,. . ."

    Does anybody else remember this House episode?

    "In pop culture, long-term illnesses are generally treated much like they are in real life—with suspicion, derision, and sometimes, outright cruelty. In the pilot episode of the long-running series House, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) gives mints (which he pretends are medication) to an exhausted patient who suspects he has ME/CFS (or maybe fibromyalgia). The patient is proven to be a hypochondriac when he comes back for a refill and claims to feel better. Although he’s cranky, House is a sympathetic character—a renegade genius with the answers to every medical mystery—so it’s clear who the audience is supposed to side with. To see him so callously dismiss a condition that affects as many as 2.5 million Americans (and many more worldwide) echoes the stigma patients with “invisible” illnesses experience every day."

    "A 2015 report from the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative found that only 2.4 percent of movies featured a disabled person and 86.7 percent of those were supporting or background roles. When disabled characters do appear, they are played by non-disabled actors 95 percent of the time. This normalizes the marginalization of disabled and chronically ill people and perpetuates the idea that we are destined to be sidekicks to non-disabled people, both onscreen and in society. The phrase “nothing about us without us” has been a mainstay of the disability community for three decades, and if we’re allowed to tell our stories on our terms, as recent pop culture seems to suggest, perhaps in future we can be seen as human beings rather than props."

    "Poverty is a particularly underexplored topic in disability narratives, despite real life concerns about the cost of treatments and insurance and the paucity of welfare checks. . . . Ideally, we’ll increasingly be able to watch accurate portrayals of disability and illness from a wide range of perspectives, informed by lived experience, that have the power to challenge viewers’ expectations and presumptions. We also need greater recognition that disabled or chronically ill people don’t stand apart from society; we’re a part of it."

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