As Twitchy recently reported, the #SeeHer campaign put together a one-sheet to be used in Hollywood writers’ rooms “to help avoid bias when writing female characters.” For example, it notes that 12.8 percent of Americans have a disability, but only 1.8 percent of prime-time characters have a disability.

In an article published in The Daily Beast, Kristen Lopez gives mixed praise to Marvel’s new movie, “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” After all, the main antagonist is a black woman with a disability — chronic pain — that goes along with her superpowers. Unfortunately, though, the movie falls back on “white science” to cure her.

Lopez writes (Note: very minor spoilers follow):

Instead of helping Ava find a way to cope (and not necessarily eradicate) her disability, the film seeks to provide a cure. It does so with its own version of “white science,” a term coined by author Carol Clover in her psychoanalytic exploration of horror films, Men, Women, and Chainsaws. It refers to anything considered to be “Western traditional medicine,” usually dispensed or controlled by a white man. The quantum realm functions as this film’s white science, a magical but wholly scientific world discovered by Hank Pym. Once she is freed from the realm, Janet offers to save Ava by transferring her quantum energy into her. She lays her hands on Ava—a technique often associated with tent revival preachers who “cured” poor, afflicted people by touch—and saves the woman through scientific technology.

One could say Janet’s benevolence absolves Hank of his sins [of white privilege], or posits her as a white savior for this disabled woman of color, but it’s unclear whether any of that is directly coded into the film.

So the problem is that a woman of color with chronic pain is “cured” through the magic of white science? Apparently so. Lopez concludes, “Chronic pain remains a hot-button issue in the disabled community, and having Ava live with it could have presented something relatable. Instead, Ava is stripped of her problem in order to make her rational, quantifiable, and controllable.”

Damn, Hollywood, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” was another missed opportunity to realistically confront a hot-button issue like chronic pain among people of color.

We think disabled audiences were there to see superheroes fantastically shrink and grow huge and blow stuff up and defeat the bad guys, but what do we know?


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