The Upside, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, hit theaters on January 11th.
In it, Cranston plays a man in a wheelchair.
Unsurprisingly, this touched off a debate about abled actors playing disabled roles.
Trevor Noah got into the controversy on The Daily Show.
Bryan Cranston has been cast as a disabled man in the movie “The Upside,” sparking a conversation about representat… https://t.co/oDVdfAtytx— The Daily Show (@The Daily Show) 1547388360.0
While Trevor Noah's initial instinct was to dismiss the conversation, as he listened more and more, he began to understand the frustration with Cranston's casting and the emptiness of the oft used 'they're an actor and actors act' excuse.
However, artist, activist and disabled person Annie Segarra had complicated feelings about Trevor Noah's segment.
FIrst, they dissected the small micro-aggressions that abled people engage in without realizing.
I've mentioned it before and this is a good example of how "I never thought of it like that" can feel dehumanizing.— Annie Segarra (@Annie Segarra) 1547647094.0
Then they turned to the fact that those outside of a marginalized population often engage with the fight without any context of what those who have been in the trenches have already been doing.
It's one thing to TALK abt uplifting the visibility of disabled people and another thing to actually DO it; by cred… https://t.co/v6rpF55rAE— Annie Segarra (@Annie Segarra) 1547647333.0
And finally, Segarra closed by pointing out the implicit dehumanization of disabled people that is deeply ingrained in our society.
This clip reminded me that so many ppl don't see disabled ppl as human enough to be an ally to, don't even know abt… https://t.co/EVoG9JrGzw— Annie Segarra (@Annie Segarra) 1547647462.0
And how no matter how vocal disabled people have been on this topic for the longest time, while people laughed, ign… https://t.co/NVa6YojbHe— Annie Segarra (@Annie Segarra) 1547647462.0
...for wanting respectful, authentic, good quality disabled representation and equal job opportunities for disabled… https://t.co/I8RWYaucSr— Annie Segarra (@Annie Segarra) 1547647462.0
This debate is similar to the one touched off in recent years about cisgender actors being cast in transgender roles, such as Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club or Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.
The argument is often that no disabled actors exist with a sufficient enough name to carry a big budget film. However, it's a catch 22, because if there's lack of opportunity and when there is opportunity, it's being given to abled actors, then it's impossible to begin to build a stable of disabled actors with the name recognition to carry a major studio picture.
The investment has to start with producers and casting directors.