Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quotable quote

One of our own appears in today's edition of The New York Times.

Blogger, friend, and fellow autism mom Kristina Chew, who chronicles life with her son Charlie on Autismland and provides soapbox wisdom on AutismVox, is quoted in an article about today's premeire of the extended version of Autism Every Day at the Sundance festival.

I've been hoping that, in response to concerns raised here and elsewhere about the one-sided portrayal of the bleak life of parents of children with autism, the lengthier version would attempt to provide a more balanced view - not a whitewashed view, just a more accurate one. I'm not sure it does. From The New York Times:

As he worked on a documentary about children with autism, Eric Solomon wanted its opening sequence to have an impact similar to the start of “Saving Private Ryan,” he said: “The soldiers are storming the beach and you feel like you’re in battle with them.”

The film, “Autism Every Day,” is being shown starting Jan. 21 at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Its first 90 seconds are an uncomfortable, compelling sequence of children crying, shouting and rocking as their parents struggle to restrain, comfort and connect with them.

Enter Kristina to provide an alternate perspective on Solomon's goal of making viewers feel like they're "in battle with them":

That focus has angered some families. Kristina Chew, a mother of an autistic child who writes two blogs about the disorder, said the initial version of the documentary “portrayed a tone of hopelessness.”

I am trying to keep an open mind about the new extended version, which I have not seen. The New York Times reports: "While the filmmakers capture hope, love and determination, the documentary also reveals the unrelenting stress and occasional despair in rearing children with autism."

Most of the parents I know who are raising children with autism experience stress sometimes. Some of them experience "occasional despair." And all of them are fueled by "hope, love, and determination." I hope that the Autism Every Day that's screening at Sundance is both new and improved, and that it depicts the whole spectrum of emotion, the whole spectrum of experience, the whole spectrum that is the spectrum.

I'll give the film a chance, and I'll view it when it becomes available. In the meantime, I'll continue to follow the adventures of Charlie and his family as they experience the stress, the hope, the determination and, most of all, the love that is Autismland.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a movie critic, but I found that video (the original version) very boring, and not that well directed. I thought the opening scenes with all the kids crying and screaming more fit for a comedy than for a serious documentary. The "bombardment" only works in movies when people don't realize the director did it on purpose.

Maddy said...

I'm sitting on the fence about that film too - some sites say to boycott in on principal, others say watch it because you can't criticize anything until you've seen it......or did I just make that up?
Best wishes

MOM-NOS said...

mcewen, I certainly understand the rationale of those who are boycotting on principle, but in my earlier post
I sent out a pretty direct challenge to the filmmakers calling on them to revamp their portrayal. For that reason, I think I have a personal responsibility to see what they produced this time. Otherwise, I would feel like I engaged in a debate, but left the room as soon as my time was up.

Anonymous said...

Mcewen, Who in the world ever said not to watch it? I think you did just make that up, or imagined it. Why say something insulting like people have told others not to watch it if you can't remember where you read it?

Everyone who criticizes it has watched it. Isn't that kind of obvious? Do you think they are telling people not to watch after they did? The point is that the short version that we have seen was meant to give a very slanted version of autism, to scare money from the bored-wealthy. It's not meant to give a balanced version, and it was obscene the way they intruded on the children, turning them into to little demonic objects.

I think everyone ought to watch it, but they should be told to watch how Allison SMILES as she talks about killing her daughter and how she decided not to because of the "normal" daughter at home. As she says this the deserving to die daughter walks up close to her mom, as I remember, and passes her. NO other group of parents of disabled kids would talk like this to raise money and no other parents would suck this tripe down and call it good as SOME, not all parents of autistic's do.

Where is the fence here? If you see a fence mcewen, maybe you could describe it a bit?

kristina said...

I hope Autism Speaks will make the new version available on their website as they did the first. I said a lot more to the reporter---in particular, I noted that the first version presents only one part (and only one perspective) of a "spectrum of views on what it is to live with autism."

"the stress, the hope, the determination and, most of all, the love"---yes, it will continue to air on Autismland----it means more than a lot to know that one's "broadcasts" (blog-casts?) are read (viewed) by the best of audiences (and fellow bloggers, friends, and autism parents).

Anonymous said...

While I have not viewed the movie and am not particularly knowledgeable enough to comment, I heard something on the radio that made me stop as soon as I heard it. It was not what WAS said, as it seems the movie has as its problem, but what was NOT said. There was a quick blurb about a stabbing at a local high school, and all the report said was that a student with a mild form of autism (and what does that mean to a reporter?) had stabbed another student at the school, and the student died. That was it. It just made me wonder how, of all the possible facts that had been given to the reporter, that one descriptive piece had been the one to be used in the quick blurb. Does the fact that it was the only tidbit given feed the general audience's appetite for juicy details, or does it incite or inspire an instant bias against anyone with autism? Is it going to color a mom's feelings when little Sammy asks little Jimmy to come for a playdate if Jimmy's mom knows that Sammy is on the spectrum? Maybe I'm overreacting because I have a little autistic buddy, but I'd love to hear what the blog friends have to say.

Anonymous said...

Teal, I don't think you're over-reacting at all. In my opinion, by including that one fact - and only that fact - in their quick blurb, they implied that there was a connection between the boy's autism and his violence. Perhaps there was - I don't know. But I do know that it would take more than a 15 second blurb to fully explore the nuances of the situation.