The Ruderman Family Foundation, a leading organization advocating on behalf of disabled people, has come out against the forthcoming film “Blind.” The group accuses the movie of “crip-face” — akin to blackface — in its casting of the able-bodied Alec Baldwin as the blind lead.
“Alec Baldwin in ‘Blind’ is just the latest example of treating disability as a costume,” Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president, said in a statement. “We no longer find it acceptable for white actors to portray black characters. Disability as a costume needs to also become universally unacceptable.”
“Blind,” which Vertical Entertainment will release July 14, stars Baldwin as a novelist who lost his wife and his sight in a car crash. Years later, he comes into contact with a married socialite, played by Demi Moore, who is forced to read to him as part of a plea bargain. The two begin a love affair forcing Moore’s character to choose between the novelist and her husband.
Last July, the foundation released its Ruderman White Paper on Employment of Actors With Disabilities in Television. The study found that despite those with disabilities representing nearly 20 percent of the country’s population, about 95 percent of characters with disabilities on television are played by able-bodied actors.
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Months later, in November, the organization hosted its first Studio-Wide Roundtable on Disability Inclusion. At that event, Marlee Matlin, perhaps the most visible and acclaimed disabled actress, spoke about the need for Hollywood to give disabled actors a chance.
“There is something wrong with this picture,” said Matlin, who 30 years ago won an Oscar for her leading role in “Children of a Lesser God.” “We as an industry keep talking about diversity — we know we have a problem. But, sadly, when we start speaking about diversity, disability seems to be left out far too often.”