Group uses X-Men movie to educate people on disabilities

Some draw connections between the movie and disabled people.

by Amber Schadewald

In “X-Men: The Last Stand,” a cure is supposedly found for a mutant gene responsible for giving characters super-human powers.

Many have compared the way characters in the movie are perceived to the way people with disabilities are treated in society today.

Last week, the Disabled Student Cultural Center and the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council set up a table at Coffman Union’s X-Men 3 showing.

Rachel Garaghty, secretary of the cultural center, said the group wanted to help moviegoers understand that a disability doesn’t make a person different or limit their life experiences.

“People think that having a disability is such a bad thing,” Garaghty said. “It really isn’t as bad as people think. You can still live a full and happy life.”

Garaghty said just like the mutants in the film, there tends to be an assumption that people with differences or disabilities need to be fixed.

During a scene in the movie, the character Storm is confronted with the idea of an injection to cure her super power and she angrily says, “They can’t cure us because there is nothing to cure. There is nothing wrong with any of us.”

Uriah McKinney, chairman of the cultural center, said Storm’s quote really hit home with him and the group.

“The cure for the mutants is like a cure for otherness,” McKinney said. “It’s the idea that the mutants can be cured and made to be just as good as the so-called normal people.”

McKinney said he hoped the movie would help start a discussion on campus about how people with disabilities are often perceived as being less than others.

English education junior Alex Rick said when he first saw the X-Men movie he had picked up on the movie’s underlying references to people with disabilities. Rick said he thought the movie could be an effective way for the cultural center to get people thinking more about disabilities, as long as people catch the theme.

“The message could get lost in the special effects and super powers,” Rick said.

Math graduate student Matt Deidrick said although he had seen other X-Men movies, he never noticed the connection between the characters and people with disabilities.

“It seems obvious to me now,” Deidrick said. “Just like super-abilities, disabilities are just another way of being different.”

McKinney said people often think there is no value in being disabled, when in fact it can help bring a new perspective to any issue.

“Think about wheelchair ramps or the buttons that open doors,” McKinney said. “Many people, like the elderly or people carrying packages, both disabled and not, use those things every day to make life easier.”

One moviegoer, electrical and computer engineering graduate student Sam Chakraborty, said he thought the correlation between the movie and the cultural center was an amazing idea, but he would’ve liked more.

“I put the flier in my pocket without even reading it; I just thought it was an advertisement for the movie,” Chakraborty said. “I wish they would’ve had someone up in the front of the theater to tell us more.”

McKinney said the movie was just a first step in broadening the group’s reach to the campus community. In the past, the group has held events but McKinney said most of the attendees were group members. He said he hopes more people, both with disabilities and without, will take an interest in their programs.

“Just because you aren’t part of a group doesn’t mean you can’t find a place in it,” McKinney said.