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"murderball" Reflect Towards Ableism

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“Murderball” Film Reflection

Seron Martin

COMM-333 (B)

Professor Sibal

October 22, 2017


Watching the film Murderball, made me realize the struggles that society makes for wheelchair athletes. The assumption that since that person is in a wheelchair, its automatic to treat the disabled as "innocent" or "fragile". The film helps show how the reinforce their identity of masculinity. The film Fights against the negative images of stereotypes, showing us their masculinity notions that is also seen in ableist. The sport "wheelchair quad rugby", plays a big role because of all the aspects that includes these players to enact on, are all attributes the society lack knowledge of. Attributes like strength and agility are ones that society lack of and Murderball gives a new perspective of disabled athletes.

Watching them, you could see notions as where they were no different from an able body athlete. They showed it and could tell you as well. For example, when Zuban spoke in the beginning of the film, he mentioned about fighting and how if someone wants to fight, he would fight and expect you to fight him back. That shows example of wheelchair athletes not want to be labeled as weak and helpless. Throughout the film you could see the same amount of drive and passion in a wheelchair athlete as any person would see from an ableist athlete. For example, Former USA member and current coach of Canada, Joe, had the determination to beat USA but, within his story was the side of revenge and betrayal that you could normally see in the aspects of able body athletes. When he couldn’t play for his country after years and years of accomplishments and victories, he felt betrayed which caused him to seek revenge on USA causing him to become Head Coach of Canada. It was like a storyline of a grudge match where Joe wanted to be the USA and USA wanted to beat Joe to shut him up, they all showed the "competitive nature" all within a wheelchair.        

Person in a wheelchair doesn't want to be challenged of their masculinity in which physical activity plays a part. It gives the disability athletes a chance to show able bodied that they can still do things and want to prove that they are just as good. In the movie, one player expressed how he went to a wedding and he felt that the whole experience turned people's thoughts to make him feel "special" with the confusion of Paralympics and Special Olympics. That’s where I feel that disability athletes get challenged because they get labeled into the "other" category. That’s not how they want to be labeled. Disabled athletes wanted to be treated the same as able-bodied athletes, as one player stated, "we're not looking for a hug and pat on the back, we're going for gold".        

Media coverage for disabled athletes seems to be limited on a visible aspect such as "reinforcing the image of ableist values and excludes leadership role of disabled athletes"(Hundley & Billings, p.199). Watching murderball helped fight against the negative images that disabled athletes experience. Able bodies may treat the disabled as something fragile and gentle, but in the film, one player stood out as kind of the opposite. Mark Zuban is one player that is the prime example against fragile and very daring. Another example is the wheelchair itself. When described the wheelchairs within quad rugby as "Mad Max", the manager goes on to describe the use of the wheelchair to "knock the living daylights out of each other". The wheelchair accounts for the attributes of able-bodied into disabled athletes as "strength, agility, endurance, and masculinity"(Hundley & Billings, p. 209). I feel that the chair helps rehabilitate their masculinity.        

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