The Future is Fixable: Convention and Ableism in Science Fiction

  • Susan Flynn University of the Arts, London


Science fiction blockbusters engage a vast audience, while their treatment of disability contributes to the social construction of disability. Hollywood acts as a global transmitter of cultural pedagogy, a purveyor of images and messages, which are not necessarily in the interests of diverse marginalized and exploited groups across the world (Frymer et al, 2010, p.1). A decade since its release, Avatar (2009) remains iconic in its science fiction treatment of disability, as it literally subjugates the disabled body with technology, in the project of creating a new, more vibrant world. By celebrating technological advances and reifying science, both in the diegetic world of the film and the film experience for audiences, Avatar draws the audience into complicity with the project of '˜fixing' disability. Biotechnology's conspicuous largesse proposes a simplistic and unrealistic 'solution'; one that negates the agenda of the disability rights movement by undermining Social Model ideologies.

Author Biography

Susan Flynn, University of the Arts, London

Susan Flynn is a lecturer in media communications at the University of the Arts, London, specialising in screen culture, digital media and disability studies. She has written extensively on the representation of persons with disabilities in popular culture in a number of international journals and collections such as Cultures of Representation: Disability in World Cinema Contexts, Ben Fraser (ed.). New York: Wallflower Press 2016, and, Ethos: A Digital Review of Arts, Humanities and Public Ethics. Susan is editor of a number of collections including Spaces of Surveillance: States and Selves London: Palgrave Macmillan 2017; Surveillance, Race, Culture London: Palgrave Macmillan 2018; Surveillance, Architecture and Control London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019; Northern Lights Film and Media Studies Yearbook (forthcoming) London: Intellect, 2019; Surveilling America On Screen: Discourses on the Nostalgic Lens (forthcoming) New York: McFarland, 2020; Screen Bodies in the Digital Age: Violence, Voyeurism and Power (forthcoming) London: Intellect, 2020.