An Open Letter to the Media: On “Severe” Autism and Inspiration Porn
Inspiration Porn: The Basics
So, what is inspiration porn, exactly?
Well, let’s condense a big topic into a few points that should be easy enough to identify, understand, and then, most importantly– NOT practice in journalism.
1. Featuring Disabled People Doing Everyday Tasks
If a disabled person is doing something that most people do, like communicating, attending an event, or– say– graduating from high school, then it’s not newsworthy.
A few months ago, there was a daughter who was signing for her father at a concert. This became national news, and everyone talked about how touching it was.
But this is a daughter and a father communicating. They’re using language like everyone else does when they communicate. To film them… creepy.
Two people communicating in their language is normal.
Again, for the people in the back: people communicating in their language is
Let’s imagine how cringe-worthy this scenario is in another context:
Marissa and Maya are meeting after work to have a chat over a glass of wine.
They are speaking Spanish in Nebraska. An amazed patron who has never seen two real-life people speaking Spanish films it and puts it on YouTube.
It becomes a national story. Women had a glass of wine and– communicated. Stop the presses.
See? It’s weird, right?
Was an autistic person graduating what was newsworthy? Because most autistic people graduate. Was a woman signing to her deaf father in their everyday, normal communication? Because that is not unique to them. That’s their daily life.
Not being the majority does not mean that someone is fair game for being exoticized. A disabled person sighting is not like bigfoot, and footage of their interactions in life does not make for ethical clickbait.