“Enjoy your sleep, Billy.”
And with that, ACen is over, and Billy returns to his grave.
Prosthetic is custom sculpted and slush cast in latex, and painted with Mehron fantasy FX paints and alcohol activated paints by I Love FX Makeup.
I’ve tried my best to avoid doing this, but…Hi. My name is Kim. I love music, musicals, and I am disabled. Specifically, I have myelomeningocele spina bifida and hydrocephalus (treated with a shunt that I’ve had to have replaced three times in my life). I also, as you can see from the picture, use a wheelchair.
Why am I bringing all of this up? Last week, March 21st, an episode of Face Off (a reality competition show for makeup and special effects artists. One of the few TV shows I regularly sit down to watch) aired with the theme of ‘frightening families’. The premise, according to the show’s host, was for the teams to create a family of ‘deranged mutant’ characters in the same vein as, for example, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. Both teams were given sets of props to indicate the direction they were supposed to take their characters in: One being nuclear fallout and the other being circus.
It was the team that had the latter theme that I took issue with. One of the three characters this team created was immediately described as ‘hydrocephalic and in a wheelchair’, which I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at. Why not a murderous clown? Why not combine the lion and lion tamer into one being? Instead, they went with ‘child with untreated hydrocephalus’. A concept that has nothing at all to do with the circus. Even worse, though, was the reaction of the judges. It was their favorite of the three characters, it seemed, but amidst the talk about paint jobs and sculpting were words and phrases like ‘disgusting’, ‘looks like Invasion from Mars’, and ‘I’m enjoying the drool way more than I should’.
Growing up, I’ve had to deal with looks from passers-by ranging from pity to ‘how dare you have the audacity to be out in public’. I’ve had mothers frantically pull their children away from me as though afraid that whatever I had was contagious (spoiler alert: It’s not). As an adult, I have to deal with things like inspiration porn, censorship terminology, and apparently now the portrayal of my disability as good horror fodder. The latter is of great concern to me about future generations of kids. Because they too are going to have people side-eyeing them, treating them as something horrible and grotesque.
Can the media just…give us representation that doesn’t involve vilifying us, turning us into sugar-coated saints, or making us props to make the able-bodied feel good about themselves already?