There are 13 million disabled people in the UK - that's roughly 20 per cent of the population.

If it surprises you, know that the woeful representation of disabled people in television, film and, well, pretty much everything is to blame.

So, when a film with a disabled character does occasionally come along, it's important to get it right.

Skyscraper, Dwayne Johnson's new action-adventure film following Will Sawyer - a disabled man with a prosthetic leg - has put a much-needed spotlight on the discussion around disabled representation.

Some disabled people loved the film, praising what they saw as a realistic representation of disability.

Thankfully, Johnson was also open to critique.

He singled out disabled critic Kristen Lopez's review for Slash Film as "the most important" he received.

Lopez said Skyscraper gave her "a depiction of disability I actually loved", thanking the film's creators for avoiding a story in the mould of The Theory of Everything, Stronger and Me Before You - in other words, 'Oscar bait'.

Films are dubbed as 'Oscar bait' if they bring disability into the narrative just to "inspire the able-bodied audience buying a ticket with the story of this presumably courageous individual who overcame some horrific death sentence".

But, for Lopez, Skyscraper wasn't guilty of using Will's disability to provide adversity or to provide narrative tension. She writes:

People with disabilities don’t want their disability to define them, and Will’s doesn’t define his character.

It adds to it.

However, Lopez is keen to remind us that disabled representation is far from solved: Johnson climbs, jumps and walks in a way that "gives away his able-bodiedness". And his character is also able-bodied before a traumatic event, a 'buffer' Lopez says is "created as a means of helping the able-bodied audience bond with the newly disabled character".

Other point out that the problems don't stop there.

For one, there are a vanishingly small number of disabled actors out there, and Johnson is an abled-bodied man playing a disabled role.

Others pointed out that actors - and just the people we see - aren't the only people who create a film.

Johnson also called for better representation of disabled people in Hollywood following his role in Skyscraper, and said the entertainment industry should take more steps to cast actors with disabilities.

HT Slash Film

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