[nfb-talk] Comments Needed for Blindness Review in O: the OprahMagazine

John G. Heim jheim at math.wisc.edu
Thu Oct 30 22:08:38 UTC 2008

My opinion is that the sample reply is going to make people say, "So?"

The film portrays that "being sighted is inherently superior to being 
blind"? Even I believe that and I am blind. A sighted person is going to 
think you're crazy for disputing that.

You'd never make a movie about civilization crumbling when a disease breaks 
out that turns everyone's skin dark. Why? Well, because everybody with any 
sense already knows that doesn't really matter. But this movie says that 
going blind is so aweful that if it happened to almost everybody, 
civilization would collapse.

Yeah, it shouldn't surprise anyone that blind people are going to find that 

The film is offensive because it sends the message that going blind is the 
end of the world -- literally in this case. People aren't going to start 
pooping all over the place if they suddenly go blind. You don't become 
helpless just because you're blind. You adapt. It's important because a lot 
of people think they'd want to kill themselves if they went blind. You 
wouldn't. You'd do what you have to do which is you'd get over it.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Freeh,Jessica (by way of David Andrews <dandrews at visi.com>)" 
<JFreeh at nfb.org>
To: <david.andrews at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 28, 2008 4:18 PM
Subject: [nfb-talk] Comments Needed for Blindness Review in O: the 

         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 

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.

nfb-talk mailing list
nfb-talk at nfbnet.org

More information about the nFB-Talk mailing list