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Did you really have to go down the "overcoming disability is about trying really hard" - route? Doubled with the "I know people with disabilities and therefore I know what you are dealing with" approach?

I get that we live in a culture that idealizes the idea of "pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps".  But just because so many people believe in the myth that everything can be achieved if you just try hard enough, doesn't mean this is actually true. And insisting that t is means being completely ignorant to the racism, sexism,ableism, classism, heteronormatism and all the other practices of oppression that are still so prevalent.

Now, for whatever reason, they wanted Danny to be able to walk again. I think this is a wasted chance to be a more inclusionary TV show (to actually acknowledge the idea that disabled people have lives that are worth living, to show a white hetero male dealing with what it means to suddenly be part of a marginalized group instead of the supposed "normal" healthy group) but that is another issue not specific to last nights episode.

What really rubbed me the wrong way, to the point where I could no longer really enjoy the episode, was the way Dr. Hawkes verbally attacked Danny for what Hawkes deemed "not trying hard enough". He came to that conclusion after only seeing a snapshot of what Danny was dealing with in physical therapy and deciding that this short look at his friend's live gave him enough of an understanding of the situation to tell him what he was doing wrong, what he should be doing instead and best of all,how ignorant he was of his own luck.

Yes, they tried to make it about his experiences as a doctor treating trauma patients, but really, it wasn't about being a medical proffessional giving a medical opinion. Hawkes is not Danny's doctor. As far as we know, he has no knowlege of danny's treatment plan and, based on what we saw in earlier episodes, Danny probably didn't tell him about the comparably small chance for walking again that the doctors had given him after he got shot.

Hawkes, no matter his training, is in this instance acting not as a doctor giving a professional opinion, but as Danny's friend. And he is being a lousy friend by attacking Danny for "giving up". When Danny tells him that it is the pain making it impossible for him to go on, he doesn't even spare a word towards enquiring how bad the pain is, or what is being done to manage the pain, or anything like that. Instead, he goes on to tell Danny that he is lucky to have the chance of recovery that he has and that he should see the pain as the price to paid for getting good things in hs life back, telling him about another patient who did this and recovered because of it.

There is so much wrong with that. The thought that as a (currently) able bodied person, he has any idea how depending on a wheelchair is impacting Danny's life and what he should be willing to accept to get out of it. The thought that the experiences of one person who was disabled can be applied to everyone with a similar disability. The thought that he has a right to tell his supposed friend how much pain he should endure, when he has no way of knowing how much pain Danny is already suffering. The thought that Danny was "lucky" (I really hate this whole "it could have been worse" approach to minimize the trauma a person actually experiences). The thought that he, as an able bodied person, can tell Danny that he was lucky (the discussion might be a different one between people who are in a comparable situation and ended up not getting a chance to walk again). The fact that he has no problem telling Danny that he should accept the pain as payment when he himself never had to pay such a price for the things Danny is currently trying to regain.

So yes, I was very upset with Dr.Hawces in this scene. And no, not because I didn't understand where he was comming from.I get that he wants his friend to be able to walk again. I understand that he thinks he was giving Danny "tough love". I get that he wanted the story about hs patient to be inspirational. And yes, I even get that seeing Danny in the wheelchair might be hard on him.

But not as  hard as needing the wheelchair is on Danny. And you can bet that his wish to see Danny walk again is nowhere near as strong as Danny's wish to be able to do it. Hawkes is a smart guy, he should know this. Yet he insist that, alsthough he is in the position of anoutsider looking in, he understands Danny's situation and what he needs to do better than Danny himself. (And considers himself enough of an authority to inject himself into the situation instead of, for example, letting the physical therapist deal with it.) And really, no matter how well-intentioned, that was a really crappy thing to do.

And then the show had to go and make it worse by making Dr. Hawkes be right about what he said. See, Danny really only needed that kick in the butt to get motivated. All it took was an outsider telling him how to deal with his struggle, and as soon as he followed those instructions, everything got better. He got to hold his baby standing up!!!

What would have been a good way to deal with this storyline? I'm not sure. Maybe call Hawkes on his behaviour? Have him realize that he was wrong? Have Danny try to follow that "advice" and have t not work? I really don't know. What I do know is that we really didn't need one more story about how you can overcome your disablilities if you want it bad enough, fight hard enough, just deal with the pain.

Because what those "inspiring" stories are really telling us is that all the people who can not get out of their wheelchairs? Who need to take their pain medication? Who can not get out of bed? Who can not "pull themselves together and  get over it allready" (whether "it" be a visible or an invisible, a physical or a mental disability)? All those people are really only disabled because they don't try hard enough. It's their own damn fault (so why should we try to accomodate them?)


/End rant. For now.

Date: 2009-10-15 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ctoan.livejournal.com
I was concerned with Danny just learning to stand on his own, and he was there picking up the baby! What if he fell over? If I were Lindsay, that would have been my first thought.

Date: 2009-10-16 04:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arualms.livejournal.com
Yes, that too.
I thought it was a really bad idea to put almost his entire healing-process into one episode, and it seemed to me like the writrs decided to completely forget about realism all so they could have that shot of him with Lucy. It felt like a cheap ploy to make the audience cry.

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