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Can movies dispel stereotypes?

I saw "Murderball" -- several times. I haven't seen either "The Ringer" or "39 Pounds of Love," though. Both of those films have just opened in time for the holidays.

If you don't know what the films are about, or what kind of reviews they're getting, go to google news and type in the name of the movie.

"Murderball," loved by the critics, did abysmally at the box office (although producers have hopes it will do better in its DVD version, which was released Nov. 29).

"The Ringer" will definitely do better, but not, I think, for disability reasons. Made by the Farrelly Brothers of non-p.c. "There's Something About Mary" fame, it stars "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville, which alone will endear it to a certain large moviegoing public.
Producers of disability flicks seem to find themselves on the horns of a dilemma: talk a new game ("Murderball") and achieve little box-office success, or play directly to stereotypes in the hopes of garnering a large audience. That's the route the Special Olympics took when it signed on to be part of "The Ringer."


I share your skepticism. The New York Times Arts & Leisure section had an article about The Ringer, which - given the level of journalism we generally see, as reflected in your previous post - I have to call "not bad," though this really just shows how moderate our expectations are.

Here's the url for the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/movies/11bauer.html

Still, I was very struck by the involvement of the Special Olympics, especially the non-disabled representatives of the SO. For example, the article states, "During production, a Special Olympics representative stayed on the set to make sure nothing untoward slipped in." What are the chances the representative was an SO athlete with a disability? Another person with a disability? Or simply a nondisabled SO employee who "knows what's best" for pwds?

- Amy Robertson


Will "The Ringer" make a difference? Nah. But neither will "Murderball." That's just not what movies do. In the whole century-plus history of film, there are maybe a handful of pictures that can be called "influential" in the sense that they directly changed a law, inspired a social movement, etc. That doesn't mean all the rest are bad movies. They're just movies.

If "The Ringer" entertains teenagers by a film showing a jerk to be ill-informed and cruel, well, that's better than teens being entertained by a film about glorification of jerks, I guess.


Can movies dispel stereotypes? Yes.

Can these movies do this? No.

This is just the same old inspirational schlock that is getting worse rather than better. At this point, I would rather see a pessimistic movie which would show people everyday realities rather than one that would "warm their hearts."


I think the fact that "The Ringer" include about 150 disabled athletes and actors is excellent, however the message of the movie (even with the Special Olympics seal of approval) is yet to be seen.
Miss Mumpy remains hopeful.

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