Ableism is a form of discrimination against people with disabilities. The largest minority group in the United States is those with a physical, sensory, or cognitive impairment. Ableism is portrayed in movies and on television, along with other forms of media frequently in modern society.

     Ableism presents itself in the childrens movie Winnie The Pooh. Almost every character in the show has some sort of mental disability. Rabbit has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is seen through his constant need for everything to be absolutely neat and organized. Tigger appears to have ADHD, which is represented through his constant movement and non-stop chatter. Piglet appears to have an anxiety disorder, which is apparent when he is constantly worrying over everything. Lastly Eyore is said to have depression as he is always down and sad, he often says “Don’t bother nobody ever does” when being talked to by the other characters. Although these characteristics and disabilities are just observations by the viewers of the movie it is thought by many that the disabilities were purposely given to each individual character by the author. Even though the children watching this movie and seeing the characters would not be able to tell that they do in fact have disabilities it will be evident to them that each character is unique. This is important for people to learn at a young age that not everybody is the same and everyone has difficulties that they must learn to deal with and work through. Although some may disagree I believe that it is a good thing that the characters in Winnie The Pooh were all made with some sort of difference. It is these differences that make each character special and their own person which is important for children to learn.

Ableism also presents itself in the popular television series Glee. In glee there are four characters with disabilities. Archie, who is paralyzed from the waist down and therefore is in a wheelchair, Sean who is paralyzed from the chest down, and Jean Sylvester and Becky Jackson who both have Down Syndrome. These characters in Glee show diversity in the television series throughout the many different characters. These characters with physical disabilities try and live as normally as possible in order to overcome their day-to-day difficulties in society. It becomes evident throughout the series, to the viewer, that it is possible to live a normal life with a disability and that more people struggle with things in life than you may think at first glance. This show teaches people that it is okay to be different and that everyone has their own struggles.

In conclusion the largest minority group in the United States is made up of those with physical, sensory, or cognitive impairment. The two examples described above show different types of ableism within society. This minority group is unique because it is a category in which most of us will one day be included. For this reason it is important for us as members of society to learn as much as possible about disabilities and differences within society.



2 thoughts on “Ableism in Popular Culture

  1. I love the Winnie the Pooh example, K.S. It really makes you wonder what the producers of such entertainment (specifically when it’s directed at such a young audience) are thinking when they put their work together. I suppose no one can ever be certain if the associations between Winnie the Pooh characters and mental illnesses was intentional or not. If not, it is surely a large coincidence because once you think about it, those characters really do possess the symptoms of the illnesses that you pointed out. Going along with this week’s discussion on ableism, I agree this is a healthy and constructive approach to putting together a cast of a children’s television show. Each member has unique quirks and feels so shame in letting them be known. This is what the children of the next generation need to be taught!
    L. J.

  2. This is a brilliant example K.S. I did not realize this until I read your post. Now that I think of it, this is kind of sad…young children are exposed and brainwashed into thinking the “society’s” way of “approaching disabled individuals.” I do not think this way of approach is healthy for people, especially children. Hopefully, something will sooner or later happen to stop this! 😦


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