I decided to do a creative project about the area of the Plateau-Mont Royal with a specific focus on Mont-Royal Avenue. The project is focusing on the history of the space and how it has developed from a working class borough to the multicultural neighborhood that it is today. The project is showing a photo series of old pictures of the avenue from the beginning of the 20th century. To re-create the experience of the space I went to the same exact locations and took new pictures of the spaces. The project aims to illustrate and describe how the street has changed.
The discussions about how spaces are produced online remind me of a debate in the Danish media about parent’s behavior on social media. The discussion goes on whether it is okay for parents to put pictures of their young children online. Experts have argued that children have the right to privacy and therefore, parents should refrain from putting pictures of them online. The problem with the pictures is also that they can be used and abused if the images are publicly available.
This issue is an example of how parents produce or create an online space for their children without giving them the opportunity to choose for them self. When looking on Facebook or Instagram you see plenty of pictures of cute young children playing, eating, laughing etc. On Instagram, if you search on the hash tag #baby more than 70 millions pictures come up. Today, everything can be posted and shared on the social platforms. Without giving the children the choice to being on the Internet many parents create the children’s identity online from a very young age. Often the images do not illustrate who the children actually are, but they present a picture to the world of how the parents want others to see their children.One can argue that the online space creates a sort of “fake” identity for them. A fake identity that the children afterwards have to live up to.
To some people posting photos of your babies has almost become a social norm where it is expected from the surroundings that you as a parent post pictures of your baby so that your friends/followers can follow the children growing up. They expect the parents to create their children’s body online. And also many friends and family members post pictures of babies when visiting, maybe even if you as a parent don’t actually want them to, and then they take part in creating the children’s body online – still without giving the children a choice.
In class we have discussed the concept of “micro-celebrities” who in this context reminds me of the so-called “Mum-bloggers”. In Denmark these are a big group of very popular bloggers who blog about their everyday life as parents and post pictures of their family etc. On a daily basis they interact with big online communities consisting of followers who they inspire, advice and entertain. To the mum bloggers the online space has not only become a lifestyle. To some it has also become a profession where they earn money, for example by cooperating with companies by promoting theirs products. The mum bloggers then make money on creating their children and family’s space online by posting pictures and by writing about their lives.
Do you think children should have the choice to decide them self how they want to be presented on the social media? Is it okay for parents to create their children’s identity online?
For those who are interested here is the article about the issue of “cripface” — the use of able-bodied actors to play disabled characters. There’s a link to the article in Washington Post that Laurence mentioned in class.
Why do we still think cripface is OK?
Disability academic Beth Haller talks about new ways of giving people with disabilities control over their own narratives. And she says help could be coming from quite an unlikely quarter.
Chris Lilley and the ABC may refuse to believe it, but blackface is now regarded as beyond the pale. And I look forward to the day when Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar-winning performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everythingis seen as having been as offensive and cringe-worthy as every blackface performance, up to and including Jonah from Tonga.
The issue of “cripface” — the use of able-bodied actors to play disabled characters — has been in the spotlight since Redmayne’s win. An article inThe Washington Post noted that since Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man, a majority of best actor Oscars went to men playing roles in which their characters faced “significant mental or physical barriers to what many consider normal life” — ranging from Colin Firth’s stutter for The King’s Speech to Geoffrey Rush’s mental illness in Shine. Perhaps — perhaps — with this year’s awards, we’ve finally reached Peak Cripface.
So it was an interesting time to interview visiting American academic Beth Haller, author of Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media. Haller herself is an “able-bod” (to use a term from the late Stella Young), but her lecture at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute at The University of Melbourne struck a chord with disabled audience members.
Of course, some of the roles cited in the Washington Post article stretch the boundaries of what is usually defined as disability. Andrew Bolt would consign anyone who identified as disabled on the basis of their stutter to the same circle of tabloid hell as those notorious “fair-skinned Aborigines”. Others note that a disabled actor cannot realistically undertake roles such as Stephen Hawking, in which the character transitions from able-bodied to disabled.
But responsibility does not lie only with casting directors. Boyhood is exceptional in using the same group of actors for many years to depict characters transitioning through life stages. We’re used to seeing different actors depict the same character at different life stages, so why not treat the transition to disability in a similar way? And as Haller points out: “With CGI now, you could actually have a disabled person play a non-disabled role.”
However, she regards creative thinking on the part of writers as a more useful way forward. “I interviewed the writers for Switched at Birth — a teen show that features deaf actors. One of the writers said that she appreciates the fact that she can’t fall back on trite narratives. The typical plot where someone overhears something around the corner and that sets events in motion — well, that can’t work when you have all these deaf actors. So you have to come up with something more creative and innovative.”
Haller says Young was a great innovator in this area: ”She was really changing the course of disability representation worldwide with her TED talk. Her humorous deconstruction of inspiration porn truly educated people who had never thought about that as a form of negative disability representation.”
And according the Haller, the lowbrow genre of reality television is leading the way on creativity and innovation. Her academic colleagues find this hard to believe.
“Why are you bothering with reality TV — it’s all crap! But these are pop culture representations that reach a lot more people than an article in The Australian or The Age or even a TV current affairs show. These are the shows that young people in particular watch and it’s how they get their information about the world. These shows might not be perfect, but they do build awareness among people who might not have ever thought about disability issues before.”
Reality shows featuring disabled participants have proved to be a very popular genre in the United States. Little People, Big World follows the lives of the Roloff family, several of whom are the “little people” of the shows title. Push Girls depicts the lives of a group of young women who are wheelchair users (and by a happy coincidence are also glamorous and attractive by conventional beauty norms).
“The success of shows like Little People, Big World showed producers that if they tried to have a show about people with a physical difference or disability and didn’t let them have control, it would come off as inauthentic. And the term is ‘reality show’. They have to let people with disabilities have power in that particular genre or they won’t give a sense of what people’s lives are actually like. If the producers work in collaboration with people with disabilities, they get a really good show and everybody wins.”
I had hopes of becoming a reality show winner myself — not for the tabloid fame, but as an alternative to dealing with Gary-from-the-council. Gary-from-the-council had visited my home to install the modifications recommended by my occupational therapist in order to accommodate my multiple sclerosis. The OT’s suggestions had seemed pretty modest to me — a rail at the front step and re-hanging the front door. None of this was remotely possible, according to Gary. (“I know you’re home’s your castle, but it’s not very people-friendly, is it? I feel for you, I really do. I guess that you’d better just hope for a cure.”)
But Haller says reality TV won’t be the saviour for people with disabilities in an ableist world. Home-decorating shows have been used by families in the United States who needed modifications to assist disabled family members — but it has not always ended well. In several cases, the reality show didn’t just make the home more accessible, it redecorated to the point of pushing it up into a whole different tax bracket, forcing the family to sell.
“What’s wrong with our society in America when you have to go on a reality show to get the accessibility that you need for your home?”
Sigh. I’ll just continue to deal with Gary-from-the-council then, rather than waiting for the phone call from Channel 9.
When an inspiring biopic is made about my life (hey, it’s only a matter of time), it will be a challenge for the filmmakers to find a suitably Australian-accented actor of Pakistani and Scottish descent living with multiple sclerosis to play the lead role. However, I expect them to do better than to cast Cate Blanchett in brownface, wielding an elegant mobility aide.
In my introduction post I chose to write about my apartment as one of my favorite spaces. By critically analyzing the space through Henrik Lefebvre’s triad spatial model I get an understanding of how the space is socially produced by dominant forms of power. Looking at the Representations of Space, also the conceived space or the conceptualized space of planners, the property was built for habitation in 1941 during World War II.
The picture I have inserted above is an old drawing from a Newspaper in 1941 representing the property (“Andebakkegaarden” is the name of the place). It was originally designed for functionaries, as the apartments were expensive to rent at first. Back then it was a rental property where there was one owner of the whole property and the apartments were rented out to primarily wealthy families. In 1974 the property was divided into condominiums, which were subsequently sold as the tenants moved out. Today many of the apartments are owned by parents who rent them out to their children while they are students. My research on the property made me think of our class discussions about how dominant forms of power always create spaces and how a space is never neutral/natural. When the property was established in the 1940’s only a small group of the society was able to rent the apartments and the rest of the society were in a way excluded from the space. In this view, the space was socially produced and structured by especially an economical power. Today it is still the same situation even though a lot of the people who live there did not buy the place themself. A lot of the current residents now are students but it is still only a very limited group who has access to the space. Thinking of this reminds me of how we discussed the concept of the home as ‘a place and an idea that is contingent upon and always intertwined with issues of power and subjectivity, gender and class, culture and subjectivity”. In addition, the building is also designed in a way so that all the apartments require that you are able to use the stairs. Today it is still very difficult for people in wheelchairs or with other walking difficulties to access the building, which also exclude people from the space.
The representational space/lived space is describing the meaning that I personally place on the apartment. In my previous blog post I talked about how it makes me feel safe to have a space that I can always return to, like we in class have discussed how the concept of home makes people feel a sense of belonging. Sara Ahmed talks about the concept of home in Queen Phenomenology, considering the space like a second skin to the body: “spaces are not exterior to bodies; instead, spaces are like a second skin that unfolds in the folds of the body.” (p.9). Lefebvre claims that the Representational space overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects. The symbolic values are for example the meanings my furniture has to me, or the memories of the images on my wall. For instance I have build my table together with a friend and thus the space gets a symbolic value to me through objects like that.
In addition, I also perceive the space as an economical safety, which again underlines how the space is produced by dominant forms of power as economy.
My name is Anne-Mette and I am an exchange student from Denmark. I normally live in Copenhagen where I study communication at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. I have been in Montreal for a week now and I live in Le Plateau with three other students.
I spend most of my time back home either studying or working as a Junior Consultant in a PR and communication agency. In my spare time I like to spend as much time as possible together with my friends and family and I also enjoy running and playing soccer.
My goal for this class is to broaden my horizon when it comes to ways of working within the communication field and to get new perspectives in ways of thinking communication.
One of my favourite spaces would be my apartment in Copenhagen. The place is very light, not very big but with two rooms, a kitchen and two small balconies. The rooms are decorated with things that mean something personal to me, such as homemade furniture and things I’ve collected on travels. The reason why I see this as my favourite space is because it makes me feel safe to have a place that belongs to me and to know that I can always return there no matter what. Also, this is the place where I can fully relax and be myself. People who have access to the space are people who are connected to my life. Therefore the place is also filled with good memories from moments with my friends and family.
Five things faculty do that makes learning hard:
- If the lecture is based on a one-way communication form where students are not asked to consider and discuss the topics during class
- If the communication is not clear when it comes to expectations for the assignments
- If there is not enough feedback on assignments
- If syllabus doesn’t match the expectations of the students (Isn’t updated, irrelevant, too much or too little)
- If the teaching methods don’t vary
Five things faculty do that make it easy to learn:
- Being well prepared
- When teacher and students are open minded and ready to listen to each other
- When there is good feedback from the teacher
- When there is a good variety in the way of teaching
- When the teacher is motivated and radiates a great interest in the subject (It often influences the students)