Alec Baldwin, and the team for the forthcoming film “Blind,” recently caught flak for his casting as the lead.
Why? Because he plays a novelist who loses his sight in a car crash. This has caused many to call out the fact that it’s simply another example of choosing someone without any special needs to play someone who actually has a disability, as if people with disabilities can’t play themselves.
In particular, the Jewish organization that fights for disability rights, The Ruderman Family Foundation, has led the cause. Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president, said in a statement to the L.A. Times why it’s not acceptable:
“Alec Baldwin in ‘Blind’ is just the latest example of treating disability as a costume. We no longer find it acceptable for white actors to portray black characters. Disability as a costume needs to also become universally unacceptable.”
And really, who can disagree? While I do love some plumb Alec Baldwin roles (remember “Beetlejuice,” his best role, in my opinion?), it is unfortunate that the film couldn’t cast someone who actually has blindness–especially considering actors with disabilities aren’t often cast in films.
Before you say that it’s not Baldwin’s fault, he is culpable in some way, even if not entirely. He, for example, could have recommended someone with a disability to play the role–and taken a supporting role instead. And beyond Baldwin, it’s a problem in Hollywood in general–and that needs to change. It will only change, though, if someone takes necessary step like recommending actors with disabilities for roles.
Apparently, the Ruderman Foundation found that 20% of the country’s population have a disability, and yet, an overwhelming 95% of characters with special needs on television are played by able-bodied actors.
The film is scheduled to release worldwide on July 14. You can check out the trailer, which sparked the controversy, below: