womens timberlands boots calls for more roles for disabled people
Mitte, primary agent of pathos on Breaking Bad, was last seen wearing an inexplicable pair of camouflage cargo pants and Timberland boots, and El Mitotero will go not one sentence farther without disclosing that I come bearing no answer for you weary souls of the wilderness who have agonized over the eternal riddle written into the wardrobe choices of the 2013 series finale: No, I cannot give you peace, I do not know why on earth Walter Jr. was wearing what he was wearing that fateful day. That is lost to the ages, a confounding wrinkle of incidental history, like what Lee Harvey Oswald’s stepbrother liked to eat for breakfast. Let it rest, citizens, if you can.
“We don’t need to be fighting against letting people have options for the roles,” he said Wednesday at the Edinburgh Television Festival. “If there is an able bodied role, everyone should be allowed to audition for it. The character is a character in the story. It doesn’t mean I will get it . but we all have that right to audition.”
That is a fair and good and worthwhile thing to say. Bravo to Mitte, who, despite my worst instincts to be snide about eating breakfast for five seasons, was indeed brilliant on Breaking Bad as the down to earth Albuquerque teenager whose benign teenagerdom threw his father’s increasingly heinous acts into sharper and sharper relief.
“It’s a rough business,” Mitte, who has mild cerebral palsy, said in Scotland. “There are a lot of people that will prey on you. Especially if you are in a vulnerable position, people a lot of times look at that as a weakness. The thing is, it is actually the opposite. When you have something like we do it gives you power and it gives you an opportunity to grow and to accept this challenge to evolve.”
It’s an area of social justice that had been under the radar to date,
this. But Mitte, who is well remembered by fans of a beloved show, in making his point might be able to catalyze a shift in perspective on disabled talent. GLAAD found that of all regular characters on broadcast television in 2015, less than one percent were depicted as living with a disability. Despite the fact that one in five Americans has some sort of disability, according to RespectAbility, a national nonprofit.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, argued in favor of diverse depiction in a recent piece, describing the current film and television situation as one “where a marginalized group of people is not given the right to self representation.”
“We must change this inequality through more inclusive shows and casting,” Mizrahi writes, “through the media holding the industry responsible, through the avoidance of stereotypical stories, and ultimately through the telling of stories that depict people with disabilities without focusing only on the disability.”
Born This Way, an Emmy nominated A reality series that follows young adults with Down syndrome, is a promising example of self representation, Mizrahi says. So was Mitte’s turn in the drama that made Albuquerque famous. It all works together, and broader awareness is a good first step, even in Timberlands and a ghastly pair of purple camo leggings.
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