this just in the broadway musical newsies is ableist as all hell and if u can’t see that or accept that then like….wyd. it’s albeist in its writing and execution and the fandom carries on a lot of it.
first issue is one that nobody ever brings up, like, ever. they cut kid blink. like, they didn’t just strip him of his leadership. they cut his entire character. if you wanna make kid blink into jack kelly then fine, but let him keep his eyepatch. the reason, i was once told, is because he can’t dance with it. which is…ridiculous. the only dancing he does in the entire thing is a little bit of footwork. there’s no reason good enough to erase the fact that this huge strike that stopped New York in its tracks was led by a disabled kid.
and then…there’s crutchie. i won’t really go into the fact that people constantly treat him as a younger newsie, since there are so many conflicting reports on his age (14-17), but the biggest issue with him, honestly, is the way he’s treated by the writers. first, pretty much every casting choice since AKB has been some one who could pass for a young teen. (also I’d just like to say that I’ve noticed u all routinely headcanoning the Asian newsies as younger than the others. hm)
then they treat him like he’s literally only there to serve jacks plot. jack needs someone to do some exposition dumping on, there he is. jack needs to be framed as a guardian figure who protects his newsies, there’s crutchie looking sad about Santa Fe and needing his shoelaces tied and falling off the roof. jack needs someone to sing his praises to davey, there’s crutchie. jack needs someone to make him give up the fight, there’s crutchie being beaten with his own mobility aid and dragged offstage by his leg to be thrown in jail. jack needs more angst fuel, there’s the letter from the refuge. jack needs something to entice him back into the fight, there’s daveys promise that they can get crutchie back if they win. after this, he’s not useful to jacks plot, so we don’t see or hear or think about him until the very end when he’s tossed back in as an afterthought (just in time, too, because jack needs someone to remind him of the lesson he should have known from the start!). and then he stands at the side while the others dance. close curtain.
crutchie never gets his own character arc. and true, it’s newsies, there’s a lot of characters and not enough time to delve into them all. but he is set up and marketed as one of the main characters, one of our big five heroes (jack, davey, Kath, crutchie and les). he’s in the promo pics, he’s in the opening scene, he’s a part of the mains. but does he get any development? does he get to do something? do we ever really see him make a decision, or have any hint at his goals and motivation? he’s just there. he gets an entire solo song, and the entire thing is just designed to make jack hurt and explain how bad the refuge is. he wants to go back to jack and then Santa Fe, but that’s not even his dream, that’s just him following jack. because they never gave him any dreams of his own.
this is mirrored in the way the other characters treat him. the whole show he never once does anything that anyone takes seriously. he tells jack his dreams are crazy, and jack laughs it off. he makes a strike banner and race laughs it off. he gets beaten and taken to jail and the whole cast laughs it off in song form. then at the end he hits strider, which is framed as funny cus look at that little guy gettin his silly revenge! yes, he’s the comedic effect character. but it’s really, really telling that he was the one chosen to be that.
and when the writers (and thus all the characters in the show) treat him with such contempt, of course that’s how the audience perceives him. but we’re the ones with the chance to improve his character, give him the respect and development the writers just couldn’t be bothered to.
things you can do:
take the time to inspect your opinions and headcanons of him, and the sources of them
keep in mind that when the source material is Bad then yeah trash that shit
make sure you treat him with as much respect and care as any other character
and please, for the love of god. stop using slurs in your fanfiction.