Neither Villain nor Super-crip: Cyborg Representation in Film and the Augmentation of the Invalid Other

By Deric Olsen.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper examines notions of invalidity in relation to the body through an exploration of popular cinematic and cultural references, anecdotal observation, and self-reflection. It focuses on the author’s bodily experience and other direct accounts and is a personalization of the physical integration between the human organism and machine—the cyborg. The paper discusses examples of the representation of the cyborg in cinema and television and explores the resultant perceptions of the cyborg that resonate in contemporary western society. By exploring these notions of the cyborg as primarily either “villain” or “super-crip”, the resulting understanding of human integration with machines is analyzed through the perspective of those who must navigate its effects, the disabled person in society. By discussing specific disabled bodies and the implementation of cyborg technologies as a way to validate them, further observing the process and consequences of occupying the liminal space in between designations of “normal” and the “other” and how they unfold in the life of the significantly technologically augmented human is presented through personal narrative. The author concludes by arguing that the space in between either domain is in a constant state of flux, narrowing and widening, forcing the disabled cyborg body to eventually step off to either side invariably concealing or revealing itself as “villain” or as the “super-crip”.

Keywords: Film, Television, Disability, Crip, Cyborg, Cybernetic, Prosthesis, Technology, Normal, Other

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 12, pp.213-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 788.887KB).

Prof. Deric Olsen

Assistant Professor, Department of New Media, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Deric Olsen is a filmmaker, scholar, instructor and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of New Media at the University of Lethbridge. His work as a feature film director has garnered critical acclaim winning festival and industry awards including the Best Director (Drama) category and the Les Kimber Award for Best Direction at the 2007 Alberta Film and Television Awards. His films have been screened theatrically and at film festivals in Canada and the United States. He has wide-ranging experience in many of the areas of the film and new media industries that influence his creative practice and teaching. His research and creative activity is concentrated on narrative filmmaking and he has a number of projects in various stages of development. He holds a B.F.A. in Multimedia and an M.F.A. in Media Production and Studies. Prior to his current appointment, Professor Olsen held positions as Assistant Professor of Professional and Technical Communication at Montana Tech of the University of Montana, and Lecturer in the Department of Media Production and Studies at the University of Regina.


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