When Professor Lamb was talking about Frank Moore in class on Wednesday, I was thinking about one Japanese writer, Hirotada Ototake, who was born without arms and legs. He is not an artist, but he has been contributing to visibility of disable people in Japanese society as a writer and TV personality. In Japan, the disabled used to be considered a shame to families until a few decades ago. I also heard that babies who were born with obvious disabilities were killed by midwives.

Mr. Ototake became famous after publishing his first book and became the first disabled reporter on Japanese TV. He launched himself into the media spotlight and showed people that he can do anything even without arms and legs. He carried the message to society that “having disabilities is inconvenient but not unfortunate”. His appearance in media definitely drew people’s attention to those with disabilities and encouraged them to overcome their disabilities.

Recently, more and more drag queens and transgender/transsexual identified persons are appearing on TV in Japan. The media uses those transgender/transsexual or disabled people like Ototake for the sake of entertaining audiences. This may be because they are different and new to see on television and other types of media. However, I think it is clever to take opportunities to share their experiences and acknowledge their differences.

Apparently Mr. Ototake’s first book has also been published in English. It is called “No One’s Perfect”. If you have a chance, take a look!

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One response »

  1. laureljaclyn says:

    I appreciate your comments about Mr. Ototake and I’m excited to do more research to learn more about him. I used to be really frustrate with representations of disability in media (especially the mainstream tv shows, movies and news outlets) because I didn’t feel like they were accurate. I felt like they were often trivializing and didn’t represent a lifestyle that I understood. As someone who has lived with a chronic illness for the majority of my life, I finally identified as someone with a disability around my sophomore year of college. It was then that I realized that my frustration was not solely surrounding the kind of representation, it was mostly about the lack of representation. When there are only a handful of representations, it is likely that none of them will reflect a reality you understand and live. Additionally, many representations of disability are often framed in the assumption that they can be “overcome” as long as one “tries hard enough.” The fact is that disability is not something that can be overcome. It is part of a disabled persons life forever (even if they are cured of a long term illness) and the narrative that advocates for disabled people to overcome their disability serves to perpetuate an ablebodied society that disvalues and ignores differing abilities. I have always found this frustrating because my chronic illness is not something I can overcome. It is something I have absolutely no control over. So, for the media to tell me to just try hard enough or want hard enough or take the right vitamin supplement enough in order to overcome it is really undermining of the struggle I face on a daily basis.

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