Alex Baldwin has been criticised for his latest role, but it has nothing to do with his acting ability. Instead it has everything to do with his abilities, namely his sight.
In the movie Blind, co-starring Demi Moore, Baldwin plays Bill Oakland, a novelist who lost both his wife and his eyesight in a car accident.
The Ruderman Family Foundation, a nonprofit organisation, have issued a statement, from president Jay Ruderman, complaining that the role should have been played by a blind person.
“Alec Baldwin in ‘Blind’ is just the latest example of treating disability as a costume,” the statement said. “We no longer find it acceptable for white actors to portray black characters. Disability as a costume needs to also become universally unacceptable.”
Director Michael Mailer has hit back at the criticism, calling it ignorant and unfair.
“Not only is such a statement unhelpful to disabled advocacy, it also in effect discredits Academy Award-winning performances over decades by the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot, Jamie Foxx in Ray, Jon Voight in Coming Home, Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman, and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory Of Everything to name just a few,” Mailer said, before explaining his choice in hiring Baldwin.
“In order to greenlight an independent film, one must attract a “name” actor for a fraction of a studio paycheck if there is to be any chance at getting the film financed. And while I’m sure there are many talented, vision-impaired actors out there, I do not currently know of any who have the marquee appeal needed to get even a modestly budgeted film made. Such are the realities of film financing today.”
He went on to discuss political correctness, describing it as ‘poisonous’.
“My father Norman Mailer, an active voice against the fascistic tendencies present in America’s oft-fragile democracy, wrote many novels set in lands to which he had no physical or hereditary relationship. Because he was not Egyptian or German by birth, did he have no business writing about ancient Egypt and Hitler’s youth? Art and political correctness rarely mix. And that’s kind of the point. But when the requirement to be PC stifles freedom of expression, a line has been crossed.”
“As a producer-director, I would welcome an expanded pool of talent and greater opportunity to work with the disabled. (In fact, a number of disabled people were cast in speaking and background roles in Blind.) So rather than attempt to score cheap media points by going after talented actors like Alec Baldwin – who was simply excited by the professional challenge of playing a disabled character – why doesn’t the Ruderman Family Foundation focus on creating constructive dialogue and programs to advance actors who suffer from disabilities.”