“Supercrip” :: Disabled and the Media – Nathasha Alvarez

First, I’ll explain the title of this post and explain why I liked the forum post it points to at Adrants. Then, you should go join Adrants Soflow – if you haven’t already – and read the post by Nathasha Alvarez for yourself.

Yes, I know that “Supercrip” is not the most PC term, but it does tell a powerful story in just one word. After over 20 years of disability advocacy, I can say that this has been done over and over in the media. “This” being the portrayal of people with disabilities as the “super crippled” over-achiever. I am even guilty of it, too.

Once, I created a PSA for Camp ASCCA that got tremendous play by media. It was video and commentary of an amputee and hemophilia campers rappelling down a mountain side – a 100 foot cliff. At the end, the young amputee – Eddie Lee Wright – is asked how it makes him feel. He responds, “It makes me feel like Superman.”

When we pitched the story to TV, one station even sent their helicopter out to cover it. Now that’s quite unusual for a story of this kind.

Why did I make that particular PSA and why did it work so well? Why did it gain such play by TV stations? Why did it win PRCA/PRSA Medallions? Well, truth be told – probably because it was a “Supercrip” story. No one had ever seen anything like it before. No one else was doing this kind of thing with kids in a therapeutic recreation facility. And, it was something I knew would play into the perception and practices of those gatekeepers at media outlets. So, I’m guilty. I felt it also illustrated that people with disabilities are much more ‘able’ than common perceptions allow. Still, I’m guilty.

Nathasha Alvarez has posted a very interesting piece about how the media portrays people with disabilities.

Soflow – View a Forum – Version 1.0

The media has a tendency of using the disabled as either a pity story or making the person “supercrip” which I strongly suggest you don’t say to a disabled person.

Interestingly, if you work with people with disabilities enough, you’ll learn that they use these terms quite often themselves when discussing disability issues. But, yes – you shouldn’t use it “on the fly” in a casual conversation with someone you don’t know well. If you do, expect to be pounded – severely. 🙂

I have suggested that you join and visit the Adrants Soflow Forums before, but this one post by Nathasha Alvarez makes the trip and effort even more worth your while. Please visit and join.

I think I’m in love. Nathasha sounds absolutely wonderful. Hmm? Wonder if she would participate in our blogs? Ya’ think? She’s working on a newsletter of her own, but perhaps some cross-promotional participation in MarcomBlog might help her gain even more visibility? I think she deserves it.

Visit Nathasha’s online magazine Audacity.

Related post: My First Camp ASCCA post.