The Many Sides of ‘The Upside’
With over $100 million in domestic revenue, The Upside is one of the box office surprises of 2019. It has been equally successful in provoking passionate responses about the decision to have Brian Cranston play a quadriplegic. Responses to Allen Rucker’s two articles about the film, and its French predecessor, The Intouchables, highlighted the discussion:
Be Glad You Got Anything
As a person with a disability myself, I am really tired of this conversation. What a lot of people are neglecting to remember is that first society needs to be conditioned to us. I’m 33 years old and still treated like a germ. It makes people feel better to go see a movie about a disabled person when they know that person is actually OK. It depresses them to think that’s how their [a disabled actor’s] life actually is and they will NEVER see that movie. Beggars cannot be choosers. You can be mad about it or glad you get anything at all.
It’s Not Right
Wow! You put aside the fact that a nondisabled actor is playing the role because that’s the way it is in 2019? It’s been playing here for a while now, and not only have I Facebooked and called my theaters to let them know that I am boycotting the film because of this, but I have made it clear to all friends and family that they should also boycott it. My question is, why does a magazine that is supposed to advocate for people with disabilities roll over and say it’s all right?! Read the Ruderman Report — maybe it’ll give you a new perspective.
How About a Body Double?
As a person with SCI, I agree that it would be great to have an actor with a disability in the leading role. It would be great to have a body double to “stand in” for the actor in the wheelchair if they are filming flashback scenes before the injury, which I didn’t see in The Upside.
That’s What Acting is About
It does not bother me to see nondisabled actors portray people with disabilities. After all, that’s what acting is all about — portraying a character unlike the actor. I was OK with Breaking Bad casting Bryan Cranston as a meth manufacturer (which, presumably, he is not) rather than casting an actual meth dealer. But it would be good to see more actors with disabilities portraying characters that are not ability-specific. Then when one of those actors becomes a star in their own right, they would be more likely to be cast in a leading role written with the same disability.
I have a Turny seat that just rotates in a three-door Audi A3 with a roof-mounted wheelchair carrier (“The Fight for Independence,” February 2019). This allows this 62-year-old C5-6 quad of 42 years with aging shoulders to still drive independently. It’s really important to me, too. My seat is on the driver’s side, so I only need to transfer horizontally once. I don’t know anyone else who has done this, but it has worked for me the last eight years. I like driving a sporty car, and I’m not keen on moving to a van.
How Do You Do It?
When you get in on the passenger side how do you get to the driver seat? (“The Fight for Independence,” February 2019)
Author Tim Gilmer’s response: I get in on the passenger’s side for two reasons: I find it easier to pull my chair in with no steering wheel to deal with, and if I got in on the driver’s side, I would have to remove the seat behind the driver’s seat to roll my chair in, and that seat is reserved for my grandson, Cooper. As for how I get to the driver’s seat from the passenger’s side, Chrysler and Dodge minivans (at least the ones I have owned) have no console or an easily removable console, so it’s an easy transfer over from the passenger’s side.