The more I research, the clearer my project becomes, the sharper its image. I feel as though my final project comes into focus the more I twist the lens. Not to say that at times I don’t lost sight of my project completely, because I do—yesterday, I spent an hour mining television episodes, collecting useless data. But my overall idea, my overall vision, is so much more vivid today than it was yesterday, or the day before that, or two weeks ago. And it’s exciting. Exciting to feel yourself fathom something and build it. Exciting to collect clues and solve a mystery. Sometimes my project is a hovering, enigmatic orb, and today more than I ever I feel closer towards grounding it, materializing it, and making it something.
I’m inspired by the injustice of it; conversations about race, class, queerness that somehow exclude disability. Disability is so often forced to rest dormant on the backburner of progressive agendas while shouldering the burden of everyday inequality. As I progress further into the literature behind modern disability theory, and disability in film and literature, I find myself driven to support greater media representation for the 1 in 5 Americans that labor under a disability.
I find myself wanting to treat these issues with both the delicacy and the weight they deserve. I seek to straddle the line between rightful outrage and sanctimonious preaching. I also want to avoid patronizing the disabled community; part of being a responsible ally is listening to how disabled people want to be represented instead of speaking over their voices. Though I’m not sure if ally is the correct word for my role, or my intended role; as someone who struggles with a disorder that fluctuates between normally dormant but occasionally debilitating, I find myself somewhere between community member and community ally. Am I an impassioned confederate or a detached researcher? What’s my place, and do I even deserve to have one?
In my research, it’s been surprisingly difficult (and disheartening) to find instances of disability represented on reality love and dating TV. Considering that around 19% of the American population lives with a non-severe or severe disability, such a void in representation seems like discrimination, regardless of intent. Still, I’ll continue to spend hours pouring over bizarre dating show after bizarre dating show, in the hopes of finding contestants that don’t conform to archetypal expectations of ability.
After perusing various digital projects online, one in particular struck me— “The Story of the Stuff.” The format was a web documentary, almost like an online book. The design features a clean and simple text-heavy format with accompanying illustrations. I really want to model my project after the design and flow of this web documentary. I want to do a text-based narrative with chapters featuring case studies. I’m even considering doing illustrations for the online project, to give it a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing feel. I’m excited for what is developing and what is to come, though I expect it won’t be entirely devoid of encumbering setbacks.