Out of all the reading assigned for this week, I was most intrigued by Chapter 9- “The Rain Man Effect” (Silberman). I think I was specifically intrigued by this chapter because 1) We had just watched the film in class, and it was my first time ever watching it and 2) The chapter was very eye opening to me personally.
I was quite disturbed by the content in the chapter, but was also unfortunately not surprised. I was immediately disgusted at the way Bill (the man introduced at the beginning of the chapter) and the other “inmates” were treated. They were referred to as “imbeciles” which I thought was not the right word at all. Sure, the different ways in which these people behaved was new and mind boggling to almost everyone during that time, but people were blindsided (and still tend to be) by the enormous amount of intelligence that each of them possessed. They may not all be what we call “street smart”, but most have some outstanding qualities that simply go unnoticed simply because they’re “different”.
I’m glad that stories like Bill’s have gotten out over the years and have been talked about in the film industry. Nowadays, and I’m sure during the time period in which “Rain Man” was released as well, people tend to relate a lot personally to media. Many individuals connect everyday life situations to things they see in the movies, on TV, or what they read in a magazine. Also, sadly enough people tend to believe almost everything they hear on TV or see in the latest movie, especially ones that deal with real life situations. That is why I think “Rain Man” was so successful and eye-opening to many. In the part of the chapter where Silberman discusses the idea of the movie which at the time lacked a producer, I can see where the wishy washy behaviors of the potential producers came from. I think the producers wanted to take on the challenge of the content in this film because they knew it would amount to something great for society, but I also think many were scared because they didn’t want to give the new found disorder a false outlook.
Although the film ended up becoming very successful, there were some individuals who were unclear of the overall message the film was trying to give. Since autism was so unfamiliar to most, people weren’t grasping the idea of why Raymond was acting the way he was in the movie and why he couldn’t correct his behaviors. Since I know very little about autism myself, I decided to do some research on some of these comments and began browsing different reviews on the movie. I stumbled upon a short, yet to the point review from someone who has a son with autism. The review I read was from 2011, so fairly recent. In the review, the author who like I mentioned has an autistic son, makes some valid points. He wants to make it clear that every person who has autism is different. There are many levels to the disorder, ranging from individuals who are severely impacted and others whom you can barely tell have the disorder. He also made it very clear that people with autism and other disorders related to that are not put in institutions like Bill was in the beginning of chapter 9. The author of the review states,
“We don’t put people in institutions any more if there is any way we can help it. I know some people think that institutions are the “answer,” but that’s only true if the question is “how can we totally invalidate someone’s right to choice and due process.” If you don’t know someone with autism, try introducing yourself. You might make a lifelong friend.” (Raynelson).
This alone stood out to me. I have observed that many people tend to be awkward around others who show the slightest bit of difference in the way they are because they don’t know how to respond or react to their unique qualities. Chapter 9 of the text gave me a different outlook on it as well. I look at autism as an opportunity to explore a unique perspective on life and how others live. Just by watching “Rain Man” and reading some of the articles related to the film, I have learned that the aspects of autism are so intriguing and special and I am really looking forward to learning more about it more in this class.
Raynelson. “Autism Movie Review: Rain Man.” Raynelson’s Autism Blog. N.p., 31 Aug.
- Web. 09 Sept. 2016.
Silberman, Steve. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.
Place of Publication Not Identified: Avery Pub Group, 2016. Print.