The “Uncanny” Relationship of Disability and Evil in Film and Television

in The Changing Face of Evil in Film and Television
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Taking their cue from such literary texts as the Bible, Shakespeare’s Richard III, Melville’s Moby-Dick, and Barrie’s Peter Pan, filmmakers and TV producers have often associated evil with disability in their works. This conflation has led to a particularly odious stereotype: the “Obsessive Avenger,” a character (almost always an adult male) who in the name of revenge relentlessly pursues those he holds responsible for his disablement, some other moral-code violation, or both. Appearing in numerous productions throughout the history of moving-image media, this monomaniacal figure reinforces mainstream society’s most deeply entrenched negative beliefs about disabled people. In the hope of exposing the forces behind this most insidious of disability-related stereotypes and the ways it has been received, the current chapter examines the film/TV linkage of disability and evil through the lens of Freud’s “The Uncanny” and related works.