So. The Accountant’s out. And if anyone thought we were going to get a nuanced film with an autistic hero which doesn’t objectify or other autistic folk, well, looks like they’re wrong. Go read all of the reviews here at my friend Ronja’s Facebook post. I hope you have an ableism bingo card of some sort handy, because you’ll win big just from what the reviewers talk about.
Special notice: if you’re epileptic or have migraines, or if those health issues run in your family, this movie might physically harm you. More on that later.
If you’re a neurotypical person who goes to this movie and laughs at the awkward things the autistic dude does because hur hur hur he’s awkward, you should probably exit my life until you’ve learned why that shit’s not funny. My autistic friends have a hard enough time in the world neurotypical folk made without you adding to their misery. I mean, seriously, don’t be these jerks:
When I was making all of these plans for how I might feel aboutThe Accountant itself, however, I failed to take into account that the act of watching a movie about autism, no matter how crudely caricatured, in a theater full of neurotypical people—people who laughed at the titular character’s awkward attempts at conversation, cooed at his even more awkward attempts at flirting, and applauded the film’s pandering Autism Awareness-laden conclusion—might inspire some emotions of its own. As Alexandra Haagard wrote in her analysis of the film’s dangerous tropes, “the pain of witnessing the perpetration and perpetuation of stigma against the autistic community” was palpable.
Nor did I consider that reading reviews of the film by those who are not autistic might exacerbate the whole situation. And it just never occurred to me that a film explicitly about an autistic character and all of the surrounding coverage would make an autistic person like me feel so incredibly invisible.
The worst thing about “The Accountant” is that Wolff’s autistic traits and behaviors are played either for shock or for laughs. The most horrible thing I’ve witnessed in a long time is the actual audience LAUGHING whenever Wolff does things like misunderstand a joke, answer a rhetorical question literally, etc. It’s not like this is comedic in any sense. Wolff is clearly not trying to make a joke and/or is having difficulty with something, causing stress. It’s truly not funny. And I’m not going to publicly discuss how this affected me, but I will say that it did affect me deeply.
So if you do go see this movie, please don’t be that allistic jackass in the audience laughing at allistic people playing autistic traits for laughs. And if you are that allistic jackass, again, go the fuck away until you’ve learned to be a better person. Here are some resources that can help you.
How The Progressive Media Sells Out Autistic People: an article that will allow you to begin getting your head wrapped round the problem.
“Neurodiversity: Some Basic Terms & Definitions.” This will help you get up to speed on the lingo right quick.
Alyssa and Ania ‘Splain You a Thing: perspectives from two more autistic women you should definitely be listening to.
And, finally, if you have epilepsy, are prone to migraines, or have any other sensory issues, be forewarned:
***I must warn you that this film is neither very sensory-friendly or epileptic-safe. There are several scenes of very disorienting patterns throughout the film, and there are multiple scenes involving a rapidly flashing, very bright light. Please take precautions if you choose to watch this film.***
As my friend Ronja said when she asked me to warn my readership about this, “status epilepticus can kill, and trying to drive during a migraine attack can also be lethal. And 30% of autistic people have epilepsy, and it is also unusually common in blood relatives.”
So yeah. All of that is why I’m being hella harsh on a movie I haven’t seen. See, I listen to my neurodiverse friends. I believe the autistic people who have seen it. There are better movies out to spend your coin on. Please do go enjoy them instead.