Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsVietnam

Academy Awards and Images of Physical Disability

April 15, 1990

A response to the April 1 letter of Lake Nofer, a wheelchair user who felt depressed by "Born on the Fourth of July" but vivified by "My Left Foot": I am in a wheelchair too, and I agree with her, but for different reasons.

The problem with "Born on the Fourth of July" is, as Oliver Stone made clear in his Oscar acceptance speech, it is primarily about the horrors of Vietnam; Ron Kovic's disability is portrayed as nothing but a symbol of those horrors. Vietnam disabled him, and that, the movie seems to say, is worse than death.

Of course, it is not so. And it is a particularly dangerous message now, during the debate over the "right to die." At the heart of that controversy is the question of whether it is better to die than depend on machinery the rest of your life. Compare this to what happens when an able-bodied person attempts suicide. There is no debate; there is emergency crisis intervention!

"My Left Foot," however, showed how one can live and prosper even with all the difficulties of disability. The real handicap to Christy Brown, and most of us with disabilities: other people's prejudices.

BENJAMIN MATTLIN

Los Angeles

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|