A Little Film With Big Implications

A Little Film With Big Implications

May 20, 2016 / 0 Comments 0 Comments




Wow… Perhaps I’m not the most sophisticated film connoisseur, but I didn’t see that coming. However, after watching it again, I think the initial foreshadow became more apparent. As someone who’s uttered (and occasionally still does), “she’s gotta be kidding me,” as a reaction to my own mother’s gestures, I can understand the connection.

When the puppy first tries to play with the boy, he kicks the canine dismissingly and tells it to get lost, followed by a scoff. Now knowing they share the same disability, this suggests the boy himself has been ostracized when attempting to socialize with his own peers. He is reacting in the same way he was treated, possessing the mindset that disability translates to inability and inferiority, and therefore dismisses the puppy with prejudice.

But this doesn’t stop the puppy from being a “normal” puppy or exhibiting such behavior. As we see, evermore progressively, our furry little friend struggles less and less in seeking out what he desires to do, including playing with the red ball and gaining the boy’s attention. The boy witnesses this and begins to understand and appreciate that the puppy’s disability doesn’t make him any less of a puppy, any less valuable a pet or any less qualified to be his friend. He grabs the ball, stands, and we observe the reveal. Man and best friend make their way outside to play, each perfectly capable of doing so. 

Unlike much content depicting people with disabilities today, this movie doesn’t objectify either character. They are defined by who- and not what- they are, retain their agency and provide a positive example of disability in media that successfully avoids the inspiration porn trap. In my opinion, this is a shining example I hope we get to see far more often in the future.

About the author

Justin Ellis is the Social Media Coordinator of the Ruderman Family Foundation who was first connected to the issue of disability through his sister, an award-winning special education teacher. Outside the Foundation he is an avid lover of Middle Eastern history and communication psychology.

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