Hearing-washing – Hollywood’s Problem with Deaf Portrayal

Pop Culture Uncovered

That Hollywood has had a diversity problem is nothing new. From racial make-ups to whitewashing to pay gaps, popular media never seems to learn its lesson. What’s important to remember is that these issues aren’t solely focused on race and gender; the Deaf community has a similar problem.

For lack of a better word, I shall call this issue “Hearing-washing” – the casting of a Hearing person in a Deaf role.

But don’t Deaf and Hearing look alike? What’s the problem with someone representing them, if they do so respectfully? Aren’t most movies involving Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing characters good for public exposure?

Not really, at least not this way.

What Did He Say (Sign)?

First, let’s talk about accurate representation, and this is something most Hearing people might miss. They watch a movie with someone using sign language and think, “Isn’t that wonderful? A Deaf character is…

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