I know I will be writing a different posting on movies in general later on, but my goal here is to talk about autism in the media and how Asperger's is used in movies and television. I have seen several movies and television shows that directly address autism in their performances, but I honestly haven't seen them all. I think the best way to tackle this is by addressing the movies first and then finishing out with television. I think Hollywood is trying to do the right thing, but like most media in Hollywood...they don't always get it right. (I think in some way they are a little out of touch with reality.)
By far the best film I've seen is "Mary and Max" because it is based on a true story. It was done in Claymation, but the content is excellent. It's the story of two people who strike up an exchange of letters between them. Mary is from Australia and Max is from New York City. Mary first simply inquires about what it's like in America and Max with his Asperger's tries to describe it the only way he knows how...through his eyes. Eventually, Mary starts to understand Max's condition and tries to help get a better grasp on him personally more than simply knowing about America; it comes to a point where Mary ends up coming to America to wanting to meet Max.
I did see the movie "Adam" and I came into the movie with high hopes of a great story with a great message like "Mary and Max", but I was actually disappointed. At first the relationship between Adam and a female neighbor who is a teacher seems to make an interesting connection until everything goes south. I think the thing that bothered me the most was the acting from the person who played Adam. His personality seemed inconsistent because at first he would show the 'real' Asperger persona, but in other cases he seemed to come across as simply 'mentally challenge' and I mean REALLY challenged! And the ending seemed rather weak and the writer didn't know how to 'end' the story. There have been much better performances than what I saw in this movie.
On television, there have been several shows that in some form or another address Asperger's. I don't believe there too many reoccurring roles in the shows. A few I can think of would be from the "Big Bang Theory", "Monk", and actually any Sherlock Holmes material. My daughters really enjoy the "Big Bang Theory". Of course I don't know all of them or the movies for that matter, but these are ones I have personally seen and I think the television shows have done an excellent job in depicting the aspie roles.
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is a great movie from what I've heard from my wife, but I haven't seen much of the movie myself. She thought they did a great job of portraying the boy in the 9-11 movie with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Tom's character was able to talk to his son with his Asperger's, but Sandra's character had a more difficult time dealing with her son after a death in the family.
There is one more movie I would like to tip my hat to and I wanted to save it for last...and that is "Temple Grandin" staring Claire Danes. I have seen this movie and I have to say it really set the bar really high! Of course, it's the true story of Dr. Temple Grandin and how she was growing up and dealing with this unknown disorder that no one knew for a long time. It shows how she was able to pick up on how animal were thinking and reacting to situations that no one else was able to do. She observed several animals, but most of them were cattle. From that experience, she was able to go on to college and get her doctorate in animal science. Dr. Grandin teaches at Colorado State University and tours around the United Stated talking about everything from animal science to Asperger's Syndrome.
There is another reason why I bring up this movie and why I like it so much...because my daughters and I got to meet her personally at a convention hosted by Future Horizons. Dr. Grandin specially asked to see my twin daughters so we weren't going to turn that down!!! Technically we had 5 minutes to speak with her, but it turned into 20 minutes! She had some very good things to say to the girls. Mainly she told them to keep moving forward and try to excel at what they like to do. She told me to keep holding on the teaching position that I currently have because she said that aspies like us have a horrible time holding on to jobs. It's always interesting to be in the middle of several people with Asperger's having a discussion because I felt a little like a referee. I would have to add bits of detail for Temple whenever the twins told her anything. Overall, it was great hearing her talk to the girls about several different things. She did have a message to all the educators out there; she said that students are not engaging themselves. The rise in video games have hurt the momentum of any child that should be going out and making something of themselves rather than gluing themselves to the Xbox. She basically encouraged my daughters to keep moving forward and not giving up. It really was amazing how insightful and ambitious as she was to the girls.
Song of Inspiration [Check it out on iTunes or Android!]:
Song: "Be Somebody"
Artist: Thousand Foot Krutch
Album: The End Is Where We Begin
This is a special look at the HBO movie "Temple Grandin". I would encourage to see the film.
This is music video (Lyrics) the song "Be Somebody"
Here is Temple Grandin with Christen and Sarah. I felt fortunate that we had this special chance to meet her one on one.