In her essay, “Disability,” Nancy Mairs argues that our society must take the disability as normal. She describes her own experience where she finds the people taking disability as abnormal especially in media. She says, “I once asked a local adviser why didn’t he include disabled people in his spots. His response seemed direct enough: ‘We don’t want to give people the idea that the product is just for handicapped’ (14). However, disability affects hundreds of millions of families; it is obviously not unusual thing. Infact, nearly 10 percent of the world’s population live with disability.
Despite the higher number of having disability within United States places you in the minority group. As the writer Mair says, the media isolate the disabled person and don’t take disability normally. The essay by Nancy Mair was written in 1997, since then the disabilities in the media have not changed yet. It’s still the same. For example, the famous movie which was released in 2004, Million Dollar Baby, a story of a female boxer named Maggie and her trainer Frankie. During a match, she badly gets injured breaking her neck. She suffers spinal neck injury that leaves her paralyzed for life.
Her injury permanently paralyzed her from the neck down, making her unable to move, and dependent on a ventilator to keep her alive. The movie shows her to be mentally alert, but she feels no reason to go on living. We can see Maggie suffering being disabled. The movie shows disabled to be completely dependent on other, hopeless, and worthless. The character Maggie is shown completely hopeless. She has no hope of recovery. Also Maggie is shown completely dependent on others. Maggie says she is ‘gonna be frozen like this for rest of [her] life’. she also tells Frankie at one point, ‘Mama will be here soon to share some of her burden’.
This conversation implies that disability is painful, unacceptable; it makes the disabled person without hope or further future and a burden to others. Moreover, in many scenes of the movie after being disabled, she attempts to suicide but she fails. She bit her tongue in order to commit suicide, but doctors saved her. Unwilling to live the way she was (disabled), Maggie begs Frankie to help her die; he unplug her ventilator pipe, and gave her extra dose of medicine. In this way Maggie’s life came to an end. Such end of the movie implies that the quality of life of individuals with disabilities is unquestionably not worth living.
Such an ending of the movie shows that death is preferable to life with disability. Maggie quit her life. This paralyzed character encourages a “better dead than disabled” point of view. This movie focuses on euthanasia encourages disabled people that nothing is better for them rather than death. In addition, Maggie where once used to be a strong fighter, but at the end she is shown as weak. This movie shows her disability as weakness. Her image after being disabled emphasizes her weakness: she was lying on the bed, her lips were chapped, and she looks pale and unhealthy. She appears sick and wanting to die.
This image associates disability with illness, disease and death. This change of image shows the stereotypes, the theme of disability as worse than death. It shows that the disabled person can’t be the same as abled person. For example, Maggie disappears from the boxing world after she becomes disabled. Thus, this movie proves that the view of the disability in the media is still same as mentioned in Nancy Mairs’ essay. This movie shows the disability in negative way. The message given to the people through this movie is that people with disabilities do not have a life worth living.