Once again, I am side-eyeing Glee for it’s abysmal portrayal of visible disabilities.
In this corner, we have Quinn. She came back from her teen pregnancy ready to finish out her senior year in style as captain of the cheerleaders, with a scholarship to Yale. Until, in true cliffhanger style, she has a tragic car accident and finds herself in a wheelchair. But with time and perseverance, she will walk again.
In the other corner, we have Artie. He was also in a tragic car accident and is also now confined to a wheelchair. He will not ever walk again.
Much fuss is made over how Quinn has overcome major hurdles. She had Plans before being so tragically struck down. Does Artie have any such plans? Well…we don’t know. No mention is made of his hopes, dreams and aspirations. He’s just the gimp in the wheelchair. He is not popular, so whatever his life plans might have been, they don’t matter.
Furthermore, let us examine the reason for each of their accidents. Quinn’s was caused, frankly, by her own stupidity in texting while driving. Artie just had the random misfortune of being a passenger in the car accident that killed his mother. But who gets a shot at recovery? Why, Quinn, of course. She counts for more because she has *so much more to lose* than poor Artie, who will always be a socially awkward loser.
So what’s the issue?
Quite simply, the message is that if you are one of the pretty popular people (see: Quinn) who becomes disabled, it gets to be temporary. By comparison, if you aren’t one of the Chosen Ones (see: Artie), you get to suck it up, buttercup, because that disability will be with you forever!
Come their graduation day, Quinn will be all pretty in pink as she walks across the stage to get her diploma (after having hoofed her way to a win at Nationals for the glee club). Artie will get to roll his chair across that stage.
So there, in a nutshell, is what Glee is telling us. If you are the Pretty Pretty Princess (or Prince), you can overcome the odds. It just takes some pluck and perseverance. If you aren’t? You are confined not only to that wheelchair, but to a life of being a loser.
I have never been that Pretty Pretty Princess. So what does that make me, according to Glee?