Travelling to the US for a conference
This week I was at the AAG in Chicago. AAG stands for "Association of American Geographers" (which I totally messed up at customs when I was asked where I was going, but I still managed to get into the US without trouble). The conference was from Tuesday to Saturday.
I was lucky and arrived on Sunday. I also did not get jetlagged thanks to a cunning plan that involved not sleeping the night before (and by "plan", I mean I was packing for 6 weeks since I'm staying over in the US and Canada and frantically running around the house).
I found the conference quite overwhelming: first of all, 8k people (or 7k, or 9k, according to whom I was reading, but you get the idea: that's a lot of people, which is noise-inducing). Second of all: no natural light during the sessions I attended. In that respect, I found the RGS-IBG in London last August (the first conference I ever attended) a lot more "human-sized" - at the AAG, there was so much going on at any given time that I found it difficult to chose where to go (what if something more awesome is happening at the same time?!), whereas at the RGS-IBG there was a lot going on, but at a level that avoided fear of missing out and other culprits.
French Deaf people sparkle discussions by reacting against a full hearing cast playing Children of a Lesser God
I posted a few days ago about the fact that Les Enfants du Silence (Children of a Lesser God) was being produced by the Comédie-Française with a hearing actress in the role of Sarah, which sparkled a protest on the day of the premiere.
I won't talk again about my opinion on hearing actors/actresses playing d/Deaf/HOH roles, because I've done that lots with the movie La Famille Bélier (in a nutshell: I think it's not okay at all). Instead, I am trying to share a little bit about what is happening in France, since something similar is happening in the US with the #DeafTalent movement. I am grateful for Sourds.net which aggregates news all-day long and really helps me in following what is happening.
Children of a Lesser God to be played with hearing actors only at the Comédie-Française
A couple of months ago I talked about hearing actors playing Deaf characters, and the #DeafTalent/#POCDeafTalent movement it sparkled in the United States.
This was particularly interesting to me because just a few weeks before the movement started, the movie La Famille Bélier came out in France and while there were negative opinions about it, I didn't notice any particular protests on social media or elsewhere.
This has just changed!
The issue at hand
The Comédie-Française has decided to showcase Les Enfants du Silence (French title of Children of a Lesser God) from the 15th of April to the 17th of May... and congratulate themselves that it is the first time the play will only have hearing actors!
Another day, another Deaf character is played by someone hearing
There is a new prop in the movie industry!
Lo and behold... DEAFNESS!
What a great prop it is. A superb commodity that will bring you: a bunch of extremely basic jokes, the possibility to overlook d/Deaf talent, an opportunity to let the media spread wrong information about d/Deaf people, the ability to rob d/Deaf people of their own story. Overall, it will allow you, wonderfully privileged people, to perpetuate oppression, ableism, and keep the status quo.
Another day, another Deaf character played by a hearing actor/actress.
The latest culprit is the movie Medeas, where Catalina Sandino Moreno will play a Deaf character. The article is riddled with all the usual problems - use of the word mute, the obsession with words, the obsession with music but also quietness... The video interview by the newspaper (without subtitles, obviously, so I made subtitles on Amara) ends up not even bothering with Deaf. She's playing "a mute".
Subtitles, transcripts... should we bother?
The shortest answer possible is: yes!
Now we’re going to talk about why it’s important, what you can do to help as a content creator, and what you can do to help as someone who doesn’t create content.
Do you want to spread your content?
The idea is simple: if your content has subtitles, more people can view it, like it, share it… You name it!
Note: I’m talking about video/watching but this is valid for podcasts/listening as well as any other content that is relevant for this. I’m talking about subtitles but it also works with transcripts.
I don’t really buy into the whole “and see, it’s not even just for Deaf and hard of hearing people, it also benefits hearing people” because it can easily sound like it needs to benefit hearing people to be worth it.
La Famille Bélier: my critique of the movie
“La Famille Bélier” is presented as a drama comedy. I’ll start with that: I didn’t cry. I didn’t laugh. I did get a tiny lump in my throat for about ten seconds, and I chuckled a couple of times. That much is true.
I can’t tell if anyone cried in the room, but there wasn’t much laughter either. Nonetheless, the movie is already a success, with nearly 700,000 viewers (Fr) in a week.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s chat about the movie itself. In my initial article about La Famille Bélier, I argued about the issues that surround the movie. In part 2, I offered more data for my analysis. Here, I’ll be giving information about what happens in the movie, which means: spoiler alert. I’m not sure how accurate that is, though, because we all know the premise of the movie kind of gives it away from the start.