What’s So Scary About Disability?

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Horror movies still insist that the scariest thing of all is being disabled.

It’s October, the spookiest time of the year, and also the prime time for a resurgence in harmful stereotypes about disabled people in the media. I love Halloween, and like many people, I’ve been dutifully scaring myself silly this month with new shows like The Haunting of Hill House, and a re-exploration of Stephen King’s back-catalogue. But in nearly all of the terrifying films, books, and TV shows currently dominating our leisure time, it’s impossible to ignore one pervasive trend: the looming spectre of the “Evil Cripple.”

Quite frankly, we disabled people are everywhere right now, but not in the way many of us would like. If we’re not wielding chainsaws and going on murderous rampages, then we’re plotting world domination from our wheelchairs and reveling in a variety of gruesome deaths. The recurring tropes of disability = evil and disfigurement = morally bankrupt are stereotypes as old as culture itself, but what exactly is so scary about us? Well, come with me on a spine-tingling trip through history, that begins thousands of years ago, within the creeping mists of time…

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