Disability, Obesity and Ageing: Popular Media by Debbie Rodan

By Debbie Rodan

Incapacity, weight problems and growing older deals an enticing account of a brand new region of urgent trouble, analysing the best way ‘spurned’ identities are depicted and reacted to in televisual genres and online boards. interpreting the symbolic energy of the media, this booklet offers case reports from truth, drama and comedian tv programmes renowned within the united kingdom, united states and Australia to make clear the illustration of incapacity, weight problems, and growing older the way within which their prestige as undesirable and unwelcome identities is perpetuated.

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Yet even when online audiences are aware of the way television shapes particular concepts of disability, obesity and ageing, they may draw on disabling tacit knowledge to adopt and perpetuate these views. The online audience is offered the illusion that they are having a ‘meaningful interaction’ on official websites, thereby adding to the viewing event (Jones, 2003, p. 401). For some online audiences, being aware that one is watching a programme ‘with identifiable others’, with whom the programme can be discussed in detail during and/or after the airing, creates anticipation while watching.

As such, we argue these themes are political and illustrate a negotiation of televisual content. The thematic trends, discussed in depth below, are also reflected in academic literature about the televisual representation of these groups. For example, Barnes (1992) lists several stereotypes of disability; Longmore (1987) calls for more realistic portrayals of disability; Richardson (2010) suggests disability is context specific; and Hevey (1997) recognizes the potential for audiences to recoil in disgust from representations of disability and the manner in which this response can be leveraged for social change.

For example, people with disability have been a source of ridicule; obesity has carried with it cultural associations with gluttony, immorality and spectacle; ageing has been considered in terms of dependence and decline. Yet all of these groups are encouraged to exhibit an ideal positive personal attitude and ignore their socially constructed pathologization. The next chapter continues the discussion of the importance of online discourse as a cultural text. ’, and, finally, ‘I like this’. We argue that these online spaces are both reflective of and resistant towards the social disablement experienced by people who are disabled, old and obese.

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