03 February, 2010

Is Kevin Girardi a jerk?

I slept really badly last night and for some reason I started thinking about Joan of Arcadia, which is a sort of sappy TV show that I loved way too much last year. Anna at FWD/Forward has made several posts about the show's treatment of disability, which is really good.

To sum up: Joan's brother Kevin was a really conventionally masculine, popular teenager who was going to get a basketball scholarship, but was in a car accident in his senior year of high school and became paraplegic. The show starts a year or two after that and Kevin has been depressed for a while, but during the course of the show he gets a job at the local newspaper, discovers he's a talented writer, starts dating again, etc. He's sad that his old plans for his life aren't feasible anymore, but it's obvious there are still a lot of things he can accomplish and get excited about.

Yeah, so anyway, there's one scene in the first season where Kevin is dating a girl he works with at the newspaper. They're lying on the floor making out, and he says, "wait," and flips them over so he's on top, and they continue kissing.

Someone--I think the Television Without Pity recapper for the show--reacted to this scene by thinking that this was a creepy and sexist thing for Kevin to do. When I read this I was surprised, because my reaction to the scene was "Go Kevin." I thought that if Kevin really liked being on top before his accident, he shouldn't just acquiesce to not being on top because that's the expected/more convenient position for someone who's paraplegic.

This reminded me of a comment I read on the Internet Movie Database board for the documentary Murderball. IIRC (I have to go really soon, and shouldn't even be posting right now), the comment said that viewers of the movie are willing to cut the subjects a lot of slack for their sexist and generally unpleasant behavior, because they're wheelchair users, and it seems cool to see them acting like any other guys.

So, I don't know. I shouldn't have started this post because I don't have time to finish it. People with disabilities should be able to be individuals and shouldn't be held to a higher standard than non-disabled people and be expected to be saints. Guys with disabilities shouldn't be expected to be extra sensitive and feminist. On the other hand--that's not really true, all guys should be expected to be feminist.

I don't think it's ever jerky for someone to want to be on top, in real life. But given how Kevin is portrayed on the show in general as someone who is mourning the loss of a ton of stereotypically-masculine-guy privilege, I don't know if that scene was supposed to be about him being sexist, or about him being himself. I mean, if people are sexist, then I guess we shouldn't want them to be themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Yes.

    Thinking of an incident in Annie's Coming Out where Anne McDonald and Rosemary Crossley and Chris Borthwick went to an alternative theatre in Melbourne.

    They were watching a Brecht play and Anne was forced to be quiet. She was laughing and making less noise than when most people have colds. (And that can be a lot of noise indeed!)