Tag Archives: Television

Diarrhea, Mechanical Horses, Ghost Taco Bells And More: 10 Sarah Hit Stories

Sarah in Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed.

Sarah in Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed.

Sarah’s first book I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir is being released April 18, 2020.

Below is a small list of other notable pieces she has contributed to various publications around the world:

Dysfunction, Drama, and Diarrhea: The Making of ‘The Magnificent Seven’
Diarrhea comes up in the Risky Fuel household quite often. The throughlines for this being a) Sarah’s Robert Vaughn fandom, b) Vaughn and the rest of the cast having diarrhea on the set of The Magnificent Seven, and c) Sarah finding this really funny.

Requiem for a Small-Town Taco Bell: Welland, Ontario
A Taco Bell in a small town. This impossibly bright beacon would shine forever. But nothing lasts forever.

Depression-Busting Exercise Tips For People Too Depressed To Exercise
Sometimes just doing anything is what counts. This piece was incredibly popular and incredibly valuable when Sarah wrote it a few years ago. It’s probably more valuable right now.

Time Is Running Out for a Beloved Mechanical Horse-Race Game in Vegas
In which Sarah and a billionaire casino owner consider their shared love for a mechanical horse racing game, the last of its kind.

Fire Walked with Me: Living a Real-Life Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks eerily paralleled the crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka in the Niagara region. The impact these crimes had on a 10-year-old girl from the area linger still.

In Memoriam: That Time Daisuke Sasaki Had A Sword
Japanese professional wrestler and troubled dirtbag Daisuke Sasaki won a ceremonial sword in a match. And then a short time later he lost it. It was a journey.

Delta Let Someone Steal My Luggage And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
What happened when Sarah’s luggage got stolen at McCarran International Airport.

When the Way You Love Things Is “Too Much”; or: Why I Went to Portmeirion
Reflections on a journey to Portmeirion in North Wales to pay homage in the location where idiosyncratic spy show The Prisoner was filmed.

Nothing Has Prepared Me For The Reality of Womanhood Better Than “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”
Sarah was told that films like this exploited young women, but for her it didn’t feel degrading — it felt familiar.

Real Autism
This is the piece that kick-started I Overcame My Autism And All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder into existence.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Books, Comedy, Culture, Health, Jock Stuff, Music, Politics, Recollections, Television

Imagining A Fuller Spectrum Of Autism On TV

Julia, the autistic Muppet.

Julia, the autistic Muppet.

Autism is currently enjoying an unprecedented wave of popularity in film and television. From educational programming to tent-pole blockbusters, new stories have been breaking boundaries, warming hearts, and raising awareness around the neurodevelopmental condition, which is currently diagnosed in one in 68 children. Once relegated to glorified props in prestige Oscar-bait like Rain Man, autistic characters can now be gun-brandishing action heroes, charmingly horny teenagers, and progress-making muppets.

Still, while fictional autistics are being enthusiastically embraced by non-autistic artists and viewers alike, their reception among real-life autistic people like me has been far more ambivalent. Atypical and The Good Doctor both offer portrayals of brilliant young men on the spectrum, and both shows have their supporters among autistic critics and fans. I’m genuinely excited about Sesame Street‘s Julia, a four-year-old autistic muppet, and the positive influence that her visibility will have on the next generation. In general, though, these explicitly identified characters rarely become as popular as the other characters that we’ve claimed for ourselves.

Faced with a climate where most mainstream portrayals of autism are crafted almost entirely by non-autistic people—often seemingly for a non-autistic audience—autistic people have been forced to get creative in our search for meaningful representation. Some, like autistic authors Rachael Lucas, Helen Hoang, and Corinne Duyvis have successfully created their own characters and stories in books like The State of Grace, On the Edge of Gone, and the forthcoming The Kiss Quotient. Many more have taken to blogs and social media to offer armchair diagnoses about already existing characters, discussing why we think they might be one of us. These readings are called “autistic headcanons”—the process of specifically adding autism to our personal understanding of a character, all in the context of the story.

As an autistic writer who spends a lot of time online, I find the act of forming and discussing autistic headcanons to be a fascinating look into the way that autistic people can use pop culture to better understand ourselves and the world around us. What I find most interesting, though, is how little overlap there is between the characters that are ostensibly created in our image by others, and the characters that we choose for ourselves.

An enthusiasm for headcanons is not, as I’m sure many non-autistic people might suspect, a desire to glamorize our condition, nor a symptom of our deficient empathy or theory of mind. Whenever there’s a chasm between conventional assumptions about autism and the beliefs of self-advocates, there’s a tendency for a certain segment of the neurotypical population to blame the discrepancy on autism itself. But that argument is often easily refuted by the content of the autistic headcanon discussions themselves. Autistic people aren’t gravitating toward certain characters simply because we are looking for a very specific recreation of our own experience on the spectrum. We understand that people experience the world differently, and that each autistic individual is unique—and it’s that range of experience that we’re longing to see better represented on screen.

As prevalent as autism has become in film and TV lately, it still tends to look, sound, and behave a certain way. With the exception of Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) in The Bridge and Wendy (Dakota Fanning) in the recently released Please Stand By, these characters are almost invariably young men. With the exception of Billy (R.J. Cyler), the Blue Ranger from 2017’s Power Rangers, they’re almost exclusively white. Heterosexuality, cis-genderhood, and savantism are all disproportionately represented. Most of these characters appear to be constructed from the same checklist of common symptoms: no eye contact, a flat-affect voice, and generically awkward body language.

Cherry-pick a few posts on blogs or Tumblr accounts like “Autistic Headcanons” and “Your Faves Are Autistic,” though, and you’ll soon glimpse a much broader spectrum of identities, personalities, and experiences. Claiming Holtzmann — Kate McKinnon’s character in Ghostbusters, for example — allowed autistic fans to discuss everything from her sensory-friendly wardrobe choices to her echolalia-like speech patterns to her queerness. Analyzing the physicality of characters as diverse as Ren McCormack from the original Footloose, South Park‘s Kyle, and Disney’s Snow White brings a much broader view to the kinds of repetitive movements that autistic people employ to stim. Star Trek: Discovery‘s Michael Burnham, a human with Vulcan training, has recently struck a chord with autistic people who have emotions, but sometimes struggle to process or express them. Headcanon after headcanon, autistic people are demanding—and envisioning—more from an industry that’s increasingly profiting from our lives.

In a 2015 post titled “A Headcanon Named Autism: In Defense of Finding Our Own Representation,” the anonymous blogger Feminist Aspie wrote:

I want to see a world where books and TV shows and films depict autistic people of color, LGBTQIA+ autistic people, autistic women, autistic people with other disabilities, autistic people who can pass for neurotypical and who can’t, autistic people who are verbal, non-verbal, partially verbal, autistic people with all kinds of special interests, autistic people who use special interests in their work and those who don’t, autistic people who are hypersensitive and hyposensitive and sensory-seeking, autistic people of all ages and all occupations, autistic heroes, autistic villains, autistic geeks and autistic sports captains and everything in between, with good qualities and flaws that are related to autism and those that aren’t related to autism at all—realistic, multi-dimensional autistic characters that don’t feel hollow or like the butt of a joke. And until that’s achieved, autistic media consumers everywhere will keep working our headcanon magic.

Whether or not pop culture can outgrow the need for autistic headcanons is largely dependent on what non-autistic people — the other 67 in 68 — genuinely think about us. If we are, as I’ve argued before, little more than a challenge or accessory for neurotypical artists and a prop for neurotypical audiences, then their autistic counterparts must continue to forge our own path. If the current wave of autism entertainment is just the start of a greater public hunger for more and better autism representation, then the rest of the world will have to start making more space for a wider range of autistic people on both sides of the screen. If we can expand the conversation and the vision for autistic characters when armed with little more than existing properties and Internet access, imagine what we could do with our own characters and the means with which to share them.

This story was originally published February 22, 2018 via Pacific Standard

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Health, Politics, Television

How Real Are Game Of Thrones’ Martial Arts?

As much as we may want to believe, the world of Game Of Thrones isn’t real.

What is real, however, is the martial arts swordfighting which took place during the HBO fantasy series’ run.

Sarah wrote a piece for Asian World Of Martial Arts assessing how legit the swordfighting scenes in the show actually were.

To read it go here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jock Stuff, Shameless Promotion, Television

Warrior, The Bruce Lee-Inspired Show, Makes Its Debut

Warrior

Warrior

The late martial arts film star Bruce Lee is still a big deal around the world.

That’s why when the new Lee-inspired show Warrior debuted earlier this year there was a suitably large amount of attention paid to it.

Sarah wrote a primer on the new show for Asian World Of Martial Arts.

To read it go here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Jock Stuff, Shameless Promotion, Television

Netflix Wu Assassins Series To Star Iko Uwais

Iko Uwais

Iko Uwais

Netflix is going deeper into the martial arts world with a newly commissioned series called Wu Assassins.

The series will feature Star Wars: The Force Awakens actor Iko Uwais.

Sarah wrote about the new series for Asian World Of Martial Arts.

To read her post go here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jock Stuff, Shameless Promotion, Television

Westworld Star Hiroyuki Sanada’s Great Advice

Westworld star Hiroyuki Sanada

Westworld star Hiroyuki Sanada

Westworld star Hiroyuki Sanada recently opened up about the great advice he received from his mentor Sonny Chiba.

It’s most basic element was to treat his career like a marathon, not a sprint. With his current Westworld success that appears to have been good advice.

Sarah wrote about this for Asian World Of Martial Arts.

To read it click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Films, Jock Stuff, Shameless Promotion, Television

In Search Of Autism Characters Who Aren’t Awkward Savants

Julia, the autistic Muppet.

Julia, the autistic Muppet.

Television and film have a characterization problem right now.

Writers in these fields have been creating autism-related characters who are often portrayed as one-note awkward savants or, occasionally, some other worse stereotype.

Falling back on this sort of typecasting is a hack-y disservice. Sarah explained why in an essay for Pacific Standard.

To read it go here.

Because Pacific Standard has gone dormant you can read this piece HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Films, Health, Shameless Promotion, Television