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The Accountant (2016) and autism

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The Accountant (2016) and autism

Postby CosmicMonkey » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:34 pm

A movie I probably never would have watched or been interested in if it wasn't for the combined factors of a.) it's small but passionate cult following here on criticker and b.) it being available on netflix in my country. Overall, I was underwhelmed, the procedural bits were decent; the action bits, generic and uninteresting.

While, there's already been a lot of discussion on this forum about this film already, I haven't seen any discussion about it's portrayal of autism, and as someone on the spectrum, I feel my perspective is valuable. It is generally pretty accurate actually, the sensory over-stimulation, the breakdowns, the social difficulties, that was all pretty on the nose, however it was still problematic for a number of reasons.

First of all, there's a real problem with the vast majority of portrayals of autistic people all being these super-geniuses, who are very skilled in specific fields, when in reality, the large majority have difficulties in school, and holding even basic entry-level jobs. Even if very intelligent, the stigma around us, not to mention the difficulties in socialization and problems around (i.e. difficulty with job interviews, conflict resolution, networking) are so strong that it's very difficult for most of us to be successful even in a field or discipline that we are very talented in. The "successful, autistic genius" is a stereotype and trope that is actually harmful to the community, since it a.) doesn't capture the reality of most of our existences, b.) creates unrealistic and unfair expectations for our behavior that further causes to feel more alienation and rejection and c.) causes allistics to have inaccurate understanding of our lives. Obviously, if one film does this, there's nothing wrong, but The Accountant doesn't exist in a vacuum, but within a media landscape where our only portrayals are ones like these, that capture the reality, and truth of only a tiny percentage of our population.

Secondly, autism in The Accountant, felt uncomfortably fetishized in the film. Anna Kendrick's character seems to only be attracted to the accountant because he's autistic; because he's socially awkward and a really good at a few particular skills. She knows next to the nothing about the man, and makes no real attempts to know him, and yet is attracted to him despite knowing nothing else about him except he's autistic. (And it's not just because she thinks Ben Affleck is a handsome, sexy man, the film doesn't show her becoming attracted to him at first meeting, it isn't until after she discovers he's autistic that she becomes attracted to him.) His autism is sexualized, and he is seen as "sexy autist" without any other parts of his identity being known by Kendrick's character. I'm struggling to find the words to explain this, so I hope it makes sense, but something about their interactions made me feel uncomfortable and objectified.

Also, one last thing, because I know it's going to be brought up: I know this film was actually commended for it's portrayal of autism by Autism Speaks, but that's actually pretty meaningless. Autism Speaks is seen by many in the community (myself-included) as a hate group and there is an increasing movement to boycott and shut it down.

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Re: The Accountant (2016) and autism

Postby BillyShears » Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:07 pm

Oh no what have you done we were done with the Accountant :P

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Re: The Accountant (2016) and autism

Postby brickwall » Wed Sep 19, 2018 12:52 am

Stewball incoming

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Re: The Accountant (2016) and autism

Postby paulofilmo » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:47 pm

They found an edge and made a super-hero movie out of it. i feel it#'s the norm for action-dramas Bourne/Drive, etc.

i remember a convo about Morvern Callar being ont spectrum. it seemed like an unnecessary reading of the film, but perhaps the input from a diagnosed person would be interesting.

i'm off to bed. wil lthink on it, tho

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Re: The Accountant (2016) and autism

Postby bowfinger » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:59 am

I'm just gonna leave this here:

this may stewball into something even bigger in the future.

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