My nomination for the International Disability Film Festival: worst portrayal of a disabled person.

The San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visualy Impaired and the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University are the new co-hosts of Superfest, the world’s longest-running disability film festival.

This year’s Superfest, to be held on October 12, 2013, at 3543 18th Street, San Francisco, California, will “…take a powerful look backward to explore the worst of the worst in the film representation of disability. We’ll feature many telling examples of how far we’ve come, and we’ll highlight the worst of the worst with The Dissies, a new trophied award.”

An email popped into my inbox saying that I should nominate my top pick. I feel quite the honor to sell but my nomination.

I have decided to pitch in my nomination. Resident Evil: Retribution.

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus is spreading across the globe transforming ordinary people into legions of zombies. Headed for extinction, the human race has just one hope: Alice (Milla Jovovich). She’s on a mission fighting her way through cities and across continents all inside Umbrella’s prime research facility. Old friends become new enemies as she battles to escape and discovers that everything that she believes may not even be true.

The beginning of the movie introduces us to Becky, a deaf character who’s not just Alice’s damsel in distress that has mom detachment issues but also the perfect lip reader. Her speech is just as flawless as a violin quartet and to top it off she’s young, so that means she’s innocent, or so the movie portrays. With zombies covering the streets of new York our loving sympathy character signs the ever classic signature sign of “I love you” just before something horrific happens to her  or her protectors, causing the team to hide her as she cowers in a corner and perfectly reads peoples lips when people are not facing her and telling her to “get down!” or “go!” despite her flawless lip reading ability she still has no idea about what’s happening even though the other characters talk to each other directly in front of her. Holding her mother’s hand as she walks with her until she gets captured or has to hide again, she stereotypically gapes, cowers, screams, and gazes her way through a league of zombie attacks without adding in any way, even in the minimalist such as opening doors for the team, knifing zombies or even using her environment to dispatch a foe. She has no useful dialogue that expresses a cohesive thought that shows she at least has intelligence. Throughout the battle scenes Becky can be heard crying “mommy!” as hoards of the undead barrel down on the team. If Becky had a silk blue dress with high heels, then at least the stereotype of a helpless disabled victim wouldn’t have looked like something to gage the audience in a guilty sympathy ploy. Becky can teach disabled youth how to be helpless victims and she can even do it without her hearing aids are with. The helplessness outshines the role.

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Robert W Kingett

Robert Kingett is a gay blind journalist, and author, with many publications in magazines, anthologies, and blogs. He has judged many writing contests and has won many awards for his writings and advocacy.

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