Search This Blog

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rain Man is Thirty

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss depictions of ASD in popular culture.  

This past week marked the 30th anniversary of Rain Man.

Cameron Knight at The Cincinnati Enquirer
Mary Helen Richer is the executive director of the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati, formerly called the Society for Autistic Children of Greater Cincinnati.
She said opinions of Rain Man will vary depending on who you speak with. For her, the spotlight the film shined on autism outweighs most of the stereotypes the film may have perpetuated.

"Thirty years ago, when the movie came out. No one knew what autism was," Richer said. "It catapulted autism to the forefront of awareness."
Richer warns that, just like Rain Man, these examples each show one person and one example of what life is like on the autism spectrum.
"There is nothing out there that shows a full view of what autism is," she said.
As for the Cincinnati favorite, Richer says it holds up as long as you know not everyone with autism is like Raymond Babbitt.
"It's a great movie," she said. "How can you not love it for the awareness it raises and for taking on a serious topic and making it accessible."
Jay McCarthy at The Guardian:
Thirty years on, as the parent of a child with autism, I view the film very differently. I found watching it again unexpectedly moving, as I identified with Charlie’s journey from frustration and bewilderment to understanding. How, I wondered, does the autism community view the movie? “Many say that Rain Man is now damaging to autism awareness, and I see their point,” says the autism advocate Chris Bonnello of Autistic Not Weird, who has Asperger’s syndrome. The film, he believes, “should be regarded as a piece of history now”. When I put this question to Bonnello’s Facebook community, views were mixed. Although some enjoyed Rain Man, many found it “dated” and “inaccurate”. One individual on the spectrum called it “the Apu of autism ... despite not being malicious in its portrayal, it’s still a poor representation and a stereotype.”