Thought no. 1: ALL the Oscars to Benedict Cumberbatch.
Thought no. 2: Fuck you, past humans who forced chemical castration on gay people. Eternal shame on all of you sick, twisted douchebags.
Thought no. 3: The Alan Turing portrayed in this movie has a very typical form of Asperger’s Syndrome. (socially underdeveloped, literal understanding of language, separates his food according to colours, etc.)
Which brings me to this gnawing thought I have. Being an aspie myself, I have mixed feelings about aspies being portrayed as geniuses. Obviously, I see how having Asperger’s sets you up to become a genius in a field, because of intens interest, high intelligence and hyper-focus, and I’ll believe many geniuses (Alan Turing included, if this portrayal is correct - although it is never explicitly said in the movie) would have been diagnosed with ASD today. On one hand, I feel kinda proud to see such depictions. It’s great seeing aspies (real or fictional) who because of their condition have difficulties with certain things, still have their own value in that they are excellent in other areas, even excelling where neurotypicals cannot, thus proving their worth in society.
However, it has become somewhat of a trend to show aspie characters (or characters who share some of the traits) as geniuses, in a sort of “this person might be socially inept, but we forgive them because they are brilliant”-type of thinking. (Examples of characters like this are Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Gregory House, Abed Nadir, Sheldon Cooper and Dr. “Bones” Brennan). I understand why some aspie behaviour may seem funny, and it’s good to laugh at painful things, (and I absolutely love these characters) but I have problems with this way of thinking for 2 reasons:
1: Neither Asperger’s nor a brilliant mind is an excuse to be rude or mean to people. Some characters are confronted, but many are excused, or their mean-ness is glossed over because people find their quirkiness charming. 1B) Most often, aspies don’t mean to be rude, and I don’t like how some shows portray this trait as coming from arrogance rather than ignorance (or rather, forgetting that other people’s point of view may differ from your own)
(“Sherlock” does this well.)
2. I (sometimes) don’t like the aspie=genius clichè. Obviously, we’re not all geniuses. Most of us just have the problems without any upsides. I object to the notion that brilliance somehow “makes up for” aspie-type inadequaties in the minds of neurotypicals, because it implies that we have stuff to make up for, and if we’re not geniuses in some field or other, we are somehow less important, because we are not impressive. Sometimes, there is no upside. Personally, I have an interest (writing) which is something I do well and constantly, but I am definitely no genius. When I “came out” as an aspie, a friend of mine immediately went; “Yeah, I can see that; you’re brilliant at writing!” But I am not. I am maybe a bit over the average in writing skills. That is all. Some aspies do not have a special interest at all, or if they are they’re not brilliant at it, or it is not something that is useful to society. Expecting an aspie to be brilliant (because they have to compensate in some way for their issues) can come across as both ignorant and cruel. Sometimes there is no upside. And we should not have to be “forgiven” for our issues. People don’t go around thinking: “She may have asthma, but we forgive her because she’s a brilliant mathematician.”
I don’t want to be expected to be extraordinary. I have enough trouble being adequate. I don’t have the comfort of knowing I am brilliant. I will never be praised; I barely manage to function like an average human being. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching one of us succeed, and aspies are fun to watch as they have a special way of going through life (and most shows/movies choose to leave out the heart-criushing despair and pain of our struggles, on order to focus on our more entertaining quirks) I wish there were more representations of aspies who are just normal people. They are out there, of course, but the aspie genius seems to have become a bit of a trope lately. I suppose what I’m missing in the genius-aspies is the bad stuff. And subtlety.
Yes, we may separate our food/stuff into categories and jokes may escape us and we may take things literally to comedic effect, and although these things are fun to recognize in characters (and for neurotypicals, they’re funny), and I know we’re supposed to be proud to be different, but I think it has become far too easy to forget that Asperger’s Syndrome has a dark side which is not fair to leave out when portraying these fun, autistic characters.