Inclusion and the Movies
Something interesting came up on my radar the other day. It was an article about a movie theater in Calgary that is hosting a special monthly event: a movie time for autistic children. Instead of having a dark theater and needing to sit still, the lights are on and the volume is lower (and kids are free to wander or come and go as they please). The event has been a success, especially from the perspective of the parents. Their kids are those who may have trouble sitting still, or who can’t handle loud noises. For them, they consider this environment for movie watching to be an absolute gift.
This got me to thinking about the movie industry’s role in inclusion. Inclusion is a word that’s usually thrown around schools and educational discussions. It focuses on the idea that everyone should feel included and involved in the classroom. Of course, this isn’t always the way it is in the real world. But from what I’m seeing with this theater in Calgary, it may soon become the trend.
Movies are something that’s meant for everyone. Imagine that new summer blockbuster is coming out, and you can’t wait to see it. Now imagine that you or someone you know has a condition that prevents them from regularly attending the movies. I don’t know about you, but that would be difficult for me to imagine. Going to the movies is a regular routine for me. But it’s obvious that there are those who can’t, or who need special treatment in order to make the film more enjoyable.
Hollywood and film distributors have helped in a number of ways. For starters, there’s the subtitles option on a lot of films. I know the subtitles option is a popular one in my house for the member who’s hard of hearing. Subtitles and dubbing also allows the film to reach other audiences as well, rather than just first language English-speakers. I’ve also been seeing more and more that Decriptive Video Service (DVS) is becoming more and more popular. (For those who don’t know, DVS is where a narrator describes what a viewer with poor vision may not be able to see, such as actions, scenes, or even facial expressions).
I’m glad to see that there’s some sort of inclusion going on in theaters now. I think movies have a tremendous power to affect those who open themselves up to it. I know movies for me are almost a form of therapy, and I’m not alone. Cinema therapy is actually becoming a popular form of therapy for a number of reasons. For starters, there are those who find it easier to cope with their own issues if they see someone else dealing with theirs first. Some movies can be very calming and relaxing. I even read somewhere recently that Murder She Wrote (a family favourite around here) can be prescribed as a treatment for bi-polar disorder (due to its lack of violence, and overall calming attitude).
If these autistic kids continue to have the freedom to watch movies as they like, who knows? Maybe movies can have a positive impact there too.