Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Wounded Warriors of the Future Disability Hierarchy in Avatar and Source Code

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2020), 14, (4), 403–419.

Abstract

The article analyzes the representation of disabled veterans in James Cameron’s Avatar and Duncan Jones’s Source Code. The argument is that these two films use the figure of the heroic, technologically enhanced, white disabled veteran man to alleviate cultural anxieties, fears, and guilt about veterans and disabled people in the contemporary United States. In doing so, however, Avatar and Source Code perpetuate a disability hierarchy that reinforces a variety of oppressive cultural norms. The article, therefore, demonstrates how the films reflect the differential valuation and treatment of different kinds of disabled people in American culture at large via the genre of science fiction and its technological imaginative possibilities.

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Works Cited

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Thomas, A. “Stability of Tringo’s Hierarchy of Preference toward Disability Groups: 30 Years Later.” Psychological Reports 86.2 (2000): 1155-56. Print. Google Scholar

Tringo, John L. “The Hierarchy of Preference toward Disability Groups.” The Journal of Special Education 4.3 (1970): 295-306. Print. Google Scholar

Achter, Paul. “Unruly Bodies: the Rhetorical Domestication of Twenty-First-Century Veterans of War.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 96.1 (2010): 46-68. Print. Google Scholar

Agosto, Vonzell. “Scripted Curriculum: What Movies Teach About Dis/Ability and Black Males.” Teachers College Record 116.4 (2014): 1-24. Print. Google Scholar

Al-Ayad, Djibril and Kathryn Allan, eds. Accessing the Future. Futurefire.net Publishing, 2015. Print. Google Scholar

Allan, Kathryn. Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print. Google Scholar

Avatar. Dir. James Cameron. 20th Century Fox, 2009. DVD. Google Scholar

Boyle, Brenda M. “Phantom Pains: Disability, Masculinity and the Normal in Vietnam War Representations.” Prose Studies 27.1-2 (2005): 93-107. Print. Google Scholar

Cameron, James. “James Cameron’s Avatar | News.” 2014. Web. 12 Jun. 2016. Google Scholar

Cheyne, Ria. “‘She Was Born a Thing’: Disability, the Cyborg and the Posthuman in Anne Mccaffrey’s the Ship Who Sang.” Journal of Modern Literature 36.3 (2013): 138-56. Print. Google Scholar

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “Time Line: Women in the U.S. Military.” 2008. Web. 7 Jul. 2018. Google Scholar

Deal, Mark. “Disabled People’s Attitudes toward Other Impairment Groups: a Hierarchy of Impairments.” Disability & Society 18.7 (2003): 897-910. Print. Google Scholar

Desmarais, Sarah L., Richard A. Van Dorn, Kiersten L. Johnson, Kevin J. Grimm, Kevin S. Douglas, and Marvin S. Swartz. “Community Violence Perpetration and Victimization among Adults with Mental Illnesses.” American Journal of Public Health 104.12 (2014): 2342-49. Print. Google Scholar

Ellis, Katie. Disability and Popular Culture: Focusing Passion, Creating Community and Expressing Defiance. Burlington: Ashgate, 2015. Print. Google Scholar

Fore, Dana. “The Tracks of Sully’s Tears: Disability in James Cameron’s Avatar.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 53 (2011): 1-13. Print. Google Scholar

Hairston, Andrea. “Disappearing Natives: the Colonized Body Is Monstrous.” Extrapolation 54.3 (2013): 257-63. Print. Google Scholar

Imarisha, Walidah. “Introduction.” Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements. Ed. Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Marie Brown. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2015. 3-5. Print. Google Scholar

Imarisha, Walidah and Adrienne Marie Brown, eds. Octavia’s Brood. Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2015. Print. Google Scholar

Kafer, Alison. Feminist, Queer, Crip. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2013. Google Scholar

Kinder, John M. Paying with Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2015. Print. Google Scholar

McReynolds, Leigha. “Animal and Alien Bodies as Prostheses: Reframing Disability in Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon.” Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure. Ed. Kathryn Allan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. 115-27. Print. Google Scholar

Meekosha, Helen. “Superchicks, Clones, Cyborgs, and Cripples: Cinema and Messages of Bodily Transformations.” Social Alternatives 18.1 (1999): 24-28. Print. Google Scholar

Palmer, Sara. “Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Whiteness in Avatar.” Disability Studies Quarterly 31.1 (2011). Print. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. “The Bodymind Problem and the Possibilities of Pain.” Hypatia 30.1 (2015): 268-84. Print. Google Scholar

Price, Margaret. Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2011. Print. Google Scholar

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print. Google Scholar

Samuels, Ellen. “Prosthetic Heroes: Curing Disabled Veterans in Iron Man 3 and Beyond.” Disability Media Studies. Ed. Elizabeth Ellcessor and Bill Kirkpatrick. New York UP, 2017. 129-51. Print. Google Scholar

Schalk, Sami. Bodyminds Reimagined: (Dis)Ability, Race, and Gender in Black Women’s Speculative Fiction. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2018. Print. Google Scholar

Serlin, David. Replaceable You: Engineering the Body in Postwar America. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2004. Print. Google Scholar

smith, s. e. “Defining Disability in a World That Fears Disability.” Shattering Ableist Narratives. Ed. JoSelle Vanderhooft. Vol. 7. The Wiscon Chronicles. Seattle: Aqueduct Press, 2013. 27-39. Print. Google Scholar

Solomon, Rivers. An Unkindness of Ghosts. Brooklyn, NY: Akashic Books, 2017. Print. Google Scholar

Source Code. Dir. Duncan Jones. Summit Entertainment, 2011. DVD. Google Scholar

Thomas, A. “Stability of Tringo’s Hierarchy of Preference toward Disability Groups: 30 Years Later.” Psychological Reports 86.2 (2000): 1155-56. Print. Google Scholar

Tringo, John L. “The Hierarchy of Preference toward Disability Groups.” The Journal of Special Education 4.3 (1970): 295-306. Print. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Schalk, Sami