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“Music Within”: Not Your Typical Cinderella Story of “Overcoming Adversity with a Disability”

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by Treadmarkz

A while back I mentioned a movie I’d heard of, “Music Within” and I promised to write more about it once I’d actually seen it. Well here ya go!

I know I am wrong but sometimes when I read a movie review by someone who was not paid to do it, I feel like they are just doing it to show off their taste in “film” whatever the hell that is. Is that worse than people doing it because they are paid to? I don’t know. But I can never seem to get into writing a standard review of a movie, with full-blown analysis of characters and their motives and historical accuracy, narrative flow, etc. I just can’t do it.

So this isn’t going to be a “review” of “Music Within”. Sure it was a great lesson on how disabled people broke the doors wide open into the workforce. But you can read about that in a lot of other places, and frankly I am tired of mentioning the ADA. (So what do I go and do right away?)

Anyway, I have just a few observations on “Music Within.”

What stood out for me, in “Music Within” is that if you really search, or even if you just open your mind, you will find that you have a lot more in common with the people around you than you may think upon first glance. People without a disability may look at this film and see a character with cerebral palsy, played by Michael Sheen, and be startled by a few things:

– He has a crude sense of humor. I think people don’t realize that people with cerebral palsy have the mental capacity to have what is the common conception of a sense of humor. And if they do, they certainly couldn’t be crude and R-rated could they? Yes, they could. And I think this misconception gets applied to many different types of disabilities (let’s say, oh I don’t know, spina bifida). But it’s wrong. Ask my wife. She has to listen to me, for example, when we are watching a movie that I “object” to for any given reason that I make up on the spot.

– He has the capability to be rude, and abrasive. Well of course he’s rude and abrasive and angry and standoffish, he’s afflicted!!!…No…that’s not why. It’s because he’s human. And if you are rude to someone in a wheelchair or not in a wheelchair, they just may choose to be rude back to you. They may choose not to say anything about it, and that may be perceived as letting it happen, or it may be perceived as being above responding. It’s all relative, I suppose.

– He has a sex drive. I know, “duh!”, right? But some people just don’t understand that people with disabilities are sexual beings. The fact is that many people with disabilities, especially paralysis, depending on their level of paralysis, may experience repression to an extent that others simply can not understand, because they do not have the same level of freedom of expression of love, passion, lust, what have you. For some, this repression is expressed through the way they talk to the people they are attracted to, or how they “hit on” people. There are some great examples of this in the movie, where in Sheen’s character openly invites several women to partake in…certain activities with him.

But above all, to all three of these things, I say…Duh, he’s a guy. We’re like that. Crude, bi-polar, sex junkies. Can I get a witness?

Okay that’s a cheap stereotype. I got much more out of this movie than this, but I don’t want to write a book. And I don’t want to pontificate (too much). Take a look for yourself.

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“Music Within” Film Portrays the Cerebral Palsy Experience, Tells the Tale of the Birth of the ADA

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by Treadmarkz

I saw a preview last weekend for a film that came out last year. I’d never heard about it until I saw this preview, but based on the preview I wanted to share some information about it. It is called “Music Within”. Based on a true story, the film is about a deaf man, played by Ron Livingston, and his friend who has cerebral palsy, played by Michael Sheen. The story is about how these two men and a group of friends set about to change people’s perceptions about people with disabilities, and along the way play an important role in the creation of the ADA, and the improvement in hiring practices involving those with disabilities.

Since the preview seemed to focus on the man with cerebral palsy, my first impression was the realization that I am in a wheelchair, with spina bifida, but I know very little about many other disabilities, especially cerebral palsy, and I really wish I did. I try to be empathetic toward those with disabilities which take more from them than mine takes from me. For that matter, I don’t understand what it is like to be deaf either. I suppose we think we can understand that just by covering our ears, but imagine covering your ears 24/7…My point is that I am certain that I don’t understand completely.

Then I found out that Michael Sheen is not disabled, so my second impression was that I wished that his character had been played by an actor who really had cerebral palsy. But then I realized, through some level-headed debate with my wife, that this is what makes Sheen an “actor”. He is acting as a person with cerebral palsy.

I just thought the story would be that much more moving had the character with cerebral palsy been played by someone who knew exactly what it was like to have it. But I trust that Sheen did a sufficient amount of research for the part, as serious actors often do.

I am going to try to get my hands on a copy of “Music Within” so I can understand, and learn more about the ADA. I’ll let you know how it turns out.