Electric EDGE
Web Edition of The Ragged Edge
January/February 1997
Electric Edge

Letters to The Disability Rag & Resource before it closed:


Everywhere I look I see Hunchback dolls: Burger King, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Caldor, Toys-R-Us. Prices range from $2 to $20, and they all come with disfigured left eye socket and hump on back.

One wonders if Disney would make a stereotypical Uncle Tom doll or Shylock doll if Disney were to produce an animated version of Uncle Tom's Cabin or The Merchant of Venice.

Nevertheless, I bought one of the Hunchback dolls. Why? I guess, like some African Americans who are collecting rare stereotypical "Mammy" dolls and other memorabilia that ridiculed Blacks during the early days of this century, I wanted to collect it because it helps remind me that even today when we are trying to be so politically correct about stereotyping people, there are still companies and people who think it's perfectly okay to stereotype people with disabilities.

Levitttown, NY

My daughter thought the July/August Rag article on the recent Disney movie about Notre Dame de Paris was too sensitive (even though the movie's title offended her). She believed that the way Quasimodo was portrayed as such a lovable character offset the title. Then she saw the Learn & Play catalog's ad on page 3: "This fearsome Hunchback of Notre Dame costume comes with a scary mask and inflatable hump! The hooded shirt, pants with boot tops and sash are appropriately gloomy . . ."

We'll write to Learn & Play. We're sure you will too.

Annandale, VA

Learn & Play's address is:
PO Box 1822
Peoria, IL 61656-1822. -- ed.

Although my primary disability is paraplegia, I have a moderate degree of scoliokyphosis of the spine, and I definitely would not like anyone to refer to me as a hunchback.

Victor Hugo's original title did not use the word "hunchback" and I think that the publisher who had Notre Dame de Paris translated into English and given the title The Hunchback of Notre Dame is more to blame than the Disney Corp., but bear in mind that this was done well before the days of political correctness.

I did see the movie, and I can happily report that Disney did a lot more for Quasimodo's image than Victor Hugo did (making him as close to an "action hero" as a disabled person in a children's movie can be), but of course he doesn't get the girl. He loses her to the incredibly handsome ablebodied hunk, but then that happens to a lot of guys, disabled or not.

I guess the kids who go to Burger King have been asking for "Hunchback Puppets," but I wonder if they even know what "hunchback" means. They may think it's a generic term for anything related to the movie.

Boone, NC

I read the Rag article on "Hunchbacklash" about a week before going to Disney World. As expected. Hunchback of Notre Dame paraphernalia was everywhere. What I was surprised to see was the "Hunchback Bar" for sale throughout the theme park. Your article said it was "officially taboo to refer to the movie or the character as 'the Hunchback'." I guess they forgot to mention that their theme park was not subject to their strict mandates.

On the other hand, Disney World was one of the most accessible places I have ever been, transportation-wise. There were no special "wheelchair-accessible" buses or vans; all their buses and boats were accessible! Too bad Disney couldn't get it right all the way around.

The Arc of Orange County
Chapel Hill, NC

For another view of access at Disney World, see page 5. -- ed.

Ramps and riders

[E] In reading the article about the wheelchair ramp in front of City Hall in Sacramento (Access: Quality vs. Quantity, July/ August), I noticed one glaring oversight: The parking lot at the back of the building and the cost of a parking ticket are mentioned but no one seemed to remember that many in the disabilities community do not have the ability, be it financial or physical, to drive their own motor vehicle.

As anyone who rides public transportation can tell you, you use the sidewalk at the front of a building to get from point A to point B. If I then had to find a way (hopefully safe) to the back of the building I would certainly consider it an affront to my dignity. Also, is there a sign somewhere that advises City Hall users that there is wheelchair access in the back or is it one more frustrating search for access that may not even be there?

Chandler, AZ

The best letters are short and deal with a topic in the magazine. The editor reserves the right to edit letters for space. All letters are assumed to be for publication unless explicitly stated otherwise.

[E] indicates letters received via E-Mail. Our E-Mail address is: editor@raggededgemagazine.com.

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