Monday, June 21, 2021

octopus vs crips

Crip Camp was nominated for Best Documentary at the Oscars this past year.

It didn’t win, My Octopus Teacher took home the award. 

This did not surprise me because My Octopus Teacher was awesome. When Juliette recommended it to me, I watched it the next day.

It took me months to watch Crip Camp. mooonths

Every time I’d see my mom and sister, they’d both ask me if I’d watched it yet. 

Blair (only sibling, has cerebral palsy) had already watched it 3 times. 

“You’ve gotta watch it! It’s awesome. And so cool that the Obamas produced it!”

“I know I gotta watch it, I will!” 

And I was going to, but I kept putting it off. 

it had become an item on the Ugh, to-do list

I have spent so much of my life in and around the special needs universe, it is unlike me to voluntarily choose more of it. 

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For those that don’t know of it, Crip Camp is about ‘a hippie-like summer camp “for the handicapped” in the Catskills’ in the 1970s. It was a place where a group of teenagers with disabilities were set free. free and connected, finally. 

free of overprotective parents and rules! free of the society that overlooks them


Joe and I finally watched it.

One of the girls with CP reminded me so much of Blair - very similar "full body-affected" Cerebral Palsy with heavily slurred speech, smart, mischievous, funny with her one liners. 

There's a part in the movie where she says the proudest moment of her life was when a doctor told her she had contracted Gonorrhea.

The 2nd half of the movie follows the same group of disabled friends post-camp in their fight for basic accessibility in public places. The simplest of things - curb cut outs in the sidewalk, elevators in subway stations. This part of it was harder to consume, I became overwhelmed.

I felt deep feelings of guilt for not knowing about so much of it. Guilt is my specialty, it lives inside of me like an old anchor. I realized how new ‘accessibility’ really was. I hadn’t learned about the activists who occupied the San Francisco Welfare Offices for 28 days with help from the Black Panther Party. I felt ashamed for not knowing much at all about how the American Disabilities Act of 1990 came to be.

Anyway, I think about Blair and the monster feelings this movie must stir up for disabled people like her.

I think about the idea of dedicating your life to something so important, productive and impactful. Your cause

I think about what it would feel like to see the culmination of your life’s work fighting to enact change over the course of 50 years get beat by a movie about a man and his friend Octopus. 

I am not saying they gave the award to the wrong film. 

I'm not saying I think Crip Camp should have won because it's more important or because of the emotional weight it carries.

I can say Crip Camp is important without saying anything to take away from or minimize My Octopus Teacher. 

I can say My Octopus Teacher was wildly beautiful and meditative to watch and Crip Camp made me anxious.

I can say I think it would definitely be good for the world if everyone was made to watch a movie like Crip Camp and I also understand why people most likely won't. 

And I can say to myself, it is perfectly okay to put off watching movies you know will bring you anxiety.

Empathy for all

and to all a goodnight!

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