New Film 'Blind' Criticized for Casting Alec Baldwin as a Person with a Disability
Disability advocates are criticizing the upcoming film ‘Blind’ for casting Alec Baldwin to play the role of a blind character.
The film, which is scheduled for release on July 14, follows Baldwin’s character, Bill Oakland, a novelist who loses his sight in a car crash. Oakland is later cared for by Suzanne Dutchman, played by Demi Moore, a socialite tasked with reading to him as part of a community service deal after her husband is indicted for insider trading.
“Alec Baldwin in Blind is just the latest example of treating disability as a costume,” Jay Ruderman, president of the disability rights group The Ruderman Family Foundation, 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.”
— Jay Ruderman (@JayRuderman) July 6, 2017
“Blind” is far from the first movie to cast an able-bodied actor in a disabled role. Another new film, “Breathe,” stars Andrew Garfield, an able-bodied actor, as Robin Cavendish, one of the U.K.’s first disability advocates. Last year’s “Me Before You,” also starred an able-bodied actor, Sam Claflin, in the film’s leading role.
In 2016, The Ruderman Family Foundation published a study which found that while nearly 20 percent of the country’s population lives with a disability, 95 percent of characters with disabilities are played by able-bodied actors.
While Baldwin himself is not blind, he did meet with blind men at The Lighthouse Guild, a healthcare center for the visually impaired, to prepare for the role.
We’re excited to see this film! It was a privilege to have Mr. Baldwin @ our organization to observe & learn from our clients #blindthemovie
— Lighthouse Guild (@lighthousegld) July 2, 2017
Twitter users have joined Ruderman in speaking out against Baldwin’s casting in ‘Blind.’
Alec Baldwin in Blind: a man loses his sight and spends years applying for and waiting to receive social security benefits. pic.twitter.com/x1SG4Jq7lE
— Aᴀʀᴏɴ Cᴀʟᴠɪɴ (@aaronpcalvin) June 28, 2017
“Disability is not a costume.” If a “known” hearing actress had played my first role, where would I be? Think. https://t.co/rU4p3DSdT4
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) July 5, 2017
@AlecBaldwin – why do you think it’s OK to play a blind person? Think that blind actors don’t deserve to get paid to be in this role?
— Jeremy Block (@jeremyblock) July 6, 2017