[Nfbc-info] Comments Needed for Blindness Review in O: the Oprah Magazine

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Tue Oct 28 21:18:07 UTC 2008

         Dear Fellow Federationists:

It has come to the attention of the Public 
Relations office at the National Federation of 
the Blind–partly through e-mails from some of 
these lists–that a positive review of the movie 
Blindness appears in the October issue of O: the 
Oprah Magazine.  The text of the review is pasted 
below for your convenience.  Several of you have 
already written to the magazine to express your 
condemnation of its coverage of this outrageous 
and offensive film.  If you have not already done 
so, please consider submitting a comment on the 
magazine’s feedback form to explain why this film 
is detrimental to blind people.  This link: 
will take you to the contact page, and from there 
you will find a link to a comment form for the 
magazine. The National Federation of the Blind 
has submitted a comment and it is also pasted 
below as a sample, but please feel free to use 
your own words and your own personal experiences 
to illustrate why this movie is inaccurate in the 
degrading way in which it portrays blindness and 
blind people.  If you have any trouble using the 
feedback form on the Oprah Web site, please let 
us know by contacting Anne Taylor, Director of 
Access Technology, at 
<mailto:ataylor at nfb.org>ataylor at nfb.org.  Thank 
you for your assistance in this matter.


Chris Danielsen


O, the Oprah Magazine

October 2008

Live Your Best Life (LYBL) section

Page 68

Housewife Saves the World!

At last, a movie that portrays women’s work as a heroic calling

It is a truth universally acknowledged that good 
actresses in Hollywood are in want of good parts, 
and even the juicy roles are too often defined by 
the character’s connection to a man. She’s the 
wife, the secretary, the mistress. She’s strictly 
support staff. So it is with Blindness, adapted 
from José Saramago’s novel about a mysterious 
illness that makes a nation go blind. The female 
characters are ID’d as if they were possessions: 
the Doctor’s Wife, the First Blind Man’s Wife, 
etc. (There’s also the Woman with Dark Glasses, 
but that’s a euphemism–she’s actually the Woman Who Sleeps with Men for Money.)

What’s startling about Blindness is that for 
once, the housewife gets to be the visionary. 
Literally: The Doctor’s Wife (Julianne Moore) is 
the only one who’s immune to the blinding virus, 
though she loyally follows her husband (Mark 
Ruffalo) into the quarantine wards, which soon 
descend into squalor and madness. The Wife starts 
out as a tippling, flute-voiced homemaker; as the 
situation worsens, her pitch drops, her jaw sets, 
and a gunmetal gleam of resolution lights up 
those functioning eyes as she labors doggedly to 
keep herself and her insta-family of fellow 
detainees from plunging into utter depravity. 
Blindness conjures a world where an ordinary gal 
has a uniquely menial kind of greatness thrust 
upon her, where the drudgery of mopping and 
laundering is a noble calling and procuring 
groceries is a do-or-die blood sport–a test of 
leadership, in fact. Who would have thought it: 
women’s work as the stuff of movie heroism. –J.W.

Sample Comment

The National Federation of the Blind is shocked 
and amazed to read the positive review of the 
film Blindness in the pages of your October 
issue.  This film is not about a heroic woman who 
saves the world; rather, it is about blindness 
and the myth that being sighted is inherently 
superior to being blind.  The character played by 
Julianne Moore is only superior to the other 
characters in the story because she can see and 
they cannot.  This formulation is offensive to 
the nation’s blind and furthers misconceptions 
and stereotypes that the general public holds 
about blindness and blind people.  The blind 
people in the film are helpless, incompetent, and 
morally degenerate; Moore’s character is 
portrayed as physically, spiritually, and morally 
superior to them because she can see.  In the 
world imagined by this film, the blind can only 
be “saved” through the assistance of the 
sighted.  This kind of thinking contributes to an 
unemployment rate of over 70 percent among 
working-age blind adults.  For this magazine to 
endorse the world view of this film is to amplify 
and affirm the film’s offensive, demeaning, and 
harmful portrayal of blind people.

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