Alec Baldwin’s latest critic isn’t his usual nemesis Donald Trump; the veteran actor is instead being called out by leading disability advocates for his portrayal of a blind novelist in the upcoming film Blind.
In the movie, due out July 14th, Baldwin plays a man who loses his wife – and his sight – in a car crash. He later starts an affair with a married socialite (Demi Moore) who was forced to read to him as part of her plea bargain for a separate crime.
The Ruderman Family Foundation, an advocacy organization for disability rights, issued a statement to the Los Angeles Times Thursday denouncing the film’s casting.
“Alec Baldwin in Blind is just the latest example of treating disability as a costume,” Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president, said in the statement. “We no longer find it acceptable for white actors to portray black characters. Disability as a costume needs to also become universally unacceptable.”
The foundation has previously raised concerns with other mainstream movies as well, including last year’s Me Before You, in which Sam Claflin, an able-bodied actor, portrayed a paralyzed man.
In July 2016, the foundation released its Ruderman White Paper on Employment of Actors With Disabilities in Television; the findings revealed that though people with disabilities make up nearly 20 percent of the nation’s population, about 95 percent of characters with disabilities on TV are played by able-bodied actors.
“This is nothing short of a social justice issue where a marginalized group of people is not given the right to self-representation,” the study reads. “We must change this inequality through more inclusive casting, through the use of Computer Graphics (CG) to create ability, through the media holding the industry responsible, through the avoidance of stereotypical stories, and ultimately through the telling of stories that depict people with disabilities without focusing on the disability. We also provide a list of resources where actors with disabilities can be proactively reached.”