Sunday, November 14, 2010

AFA letter to Jubilee Filmmakers

Greetings Jubilee Filmmakers:

Audism Free America (AFA) is a grassroots group dedicated to reducing audism*. We would like to commend you for making a short film to support the American Society of Deaf Children (ASDC).

We want to share our disappointment with two things:
1. the casting of a Hearing person to portray a Deaf person. Since many Deaf people see themselves as a cultural and linguistic minority and since there are many skilled Deaf actors, we find it objectionable when Hearing people are used to portray Deaf characters just as Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans etc find it objectionable when Caucasian people are cast to represent them.

2. the last line of the film "You are still beautiful" communicates a message of "despite your being Deaf...."
We are eager to see media the de-stigmatizes what it means to be Deaf and devoid of sexism and lookism. Deaf women are often used in films as a sexual, desirable object. A source of fascination and a damsel in distress.

We are confident that none of your casting or writing choices intended to convey the adverse messages noted above. We know your desires were good.

We ask that you consider doing a re-shoot and casting a Deaf actor in the role of the Deaf character as well as revising the last line in response to "I'm Deaf" to either the written reply of:

"COOL" or "ME TOO."

Please do not hesitate to contact us about this matter or if you desire any input on future project ideas. Again, we thank you and commend you for this undertaking.

Let Freedom Roll,

Patti Durr on behalf of Audism Free America

*Audism = attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice—in overt or covert ways—against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.