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Friday, May 4, 2018

HuffPo Writer Gets It All Wrong With A QUIET PLACE and the Film's Resounding Success

I have to hand it to some literary and film analysts digging deep for a specific nugget of truth that resonates with them on a theoretical level opening up a whole new dialogue about a creative work, because they swing for the fences. Bravo. To their credit, a lot of their surmising and hypothesizing does ring true for a lot of books, films, series, and works of art in ways that can't be refuted.

As always, such is the case for a surprising turn of a cornerstone in the creative arts -- when a film feature or novel hits the mainstream and discovers something new and groundbreaking -- dissection inevitably follows as dissension to play devil's advocate and find out that the "masterpiece" indeed isn't as masterful as one might think. Such is the case for the big buzz the film A QUIET PLACE has been receiving (and should be receiving, honestly) --

After All, It May Very Well Be an "Homage" to the Deaf Community

It is arguably the first film to hearken to the days of silent horror, an age where silence was understood to be its own character, and we were forced to use our eyes, our vision, as a way of communicating. A way of following a story. Not something that's easy to do, but if you can, it spells masterpiece.

Of course, not so much for a particular Huffington Post writer commenting on the technological trappings and misguided footings of a film on the surface glamourizing or highlighting the hearing impaired, but actually downplaying that community in the worst way. Long story short, while that writer acknowledged the "breaking ground" of A QUIET PLACE, she also established that really the "ground" was still all intact, and all we have in this film is just another "tired trope about deafness."

Fair enough.

However, I'd Wager to Say That the HuffPo Writer "Got It All Wrong"

Here's how....


Her question was obvious: "Is the film really resoundingly pro-deaf?" .... "Is it really empowering?" She pondered after watching the film deciding that while the idea of total silence and how the play may be for holding a deaf kid as the true heroine of the story has its appeal, the truth is the film utterly limits that community into something relying on technology, or a sense of incompleteness that always plagues that community from front to back.

I get the point of view, don't get me wrong -- but look at this from a survivalist perspective within the constraints of the story and realize that it doesn't have to be a negative outlook -- but a positive one.

For starters, let's be clear here: the deaf child in the film is deaf. Not mute. That simply means the character has the capacity for communication, not necessarily in the traditional sense we're all used to, but in the only way to survive. We're not entirely positive if this child can speak, or won't, because of the situation. In this case, the only way is the way, a way many don't have; and in this particular scenario, it would be the damned who would suffer not having this way. Yes, that literally means: being deaf IS the blessing in this case.

That being said, silence is truly golden here. True, surrounded by a nightmare. But still golden. Because as humans, we still find ways to communicate, such as a "shared iPod" and "dancing," not to mention pain certainly doesn't have to be expressed through auditory means, but can be expressed visually. We have to remember: we humans still have eyes. And we can see pain just as much as we can hear it or feel it.

This goes without saying: silence, or being deaf, simply doesn't have to be about sound as an auditorial entity, but a communicative one. We can still communicate by other means. We've adapted. We've become something more. When you "hear" something, it doesn't have to be a sound. But a feeling. An emotion. An idea. And sometimes those concepts mean a whole lot more than whether or not we can hear the sound of footsteps, or hear people talk or laugh.

Long story short, I didn't see the inability to hear (not speak, as remember: characters are not necessarily mute here in this film) as "depicted as tragic." They obviously can't speak; that, of course, is TRAGIC. But that "disability" does not define the hearing impaired by any means. I thus saw it as something that strengthened the Abbotts with something that can only be described as perseverance and love, loyalty and a family's willingness to press on against all odds.

In fact, I'd push the envelope even further and say the aliens' ability to hear everything was undoubtedly their true disability, their ACHILLES' HEEL.... (You can continue reading further for the spoiler to understand why).

Truly, I Thought the VERY Minimal Dialogue We End Up Hearing in the Film to Be the FOLLY That Was the Film's Main Idea

It wasn't a relief. It was a reminder. A reminder that they're completely trapped, unable to speak -- yet they can hear everything and say nothing. In a way, it was the complete opposite of what being deaf is all about. Because a deaf person -- completely adapted, celebrated for living life despite the impairment -- can communicate just fine, yet hear nothing (in the auditory sense).

Honestly the same theory goes about how technology seems to muffle (no pun intended there) the real truth behind the heroism that is the one character with the key to solving the conflict and ending the film. Which the HuffPo writer calls it the "medical model." Very true to some degree.

Yes, indeed: the hearing implant ends up being what saves the Abbotts -- and the entire world, for
that matter -- from certain doom. But who has the implant? Who solved the issue? Who discovered that the implant could be for something other than what it was technologically designed to do, leveraging the pain induced by hearing all that static?

Startling -- that an implant solely created to alleviate the disability for the hearing impaired ended up allowing an entire world to start "talking" again, for people to make "noise" and appreciate the celebration of sound, music, laughter, etc. etc.. I can't imagine other families not "suffering" from this impairment to ever discover that -- hence they're left in that state of imprisonment against these beastly aliens.

Sure, however, it's a factor many of the hearing impaired might "need," but by choice I would think (especially knowing that a technically 'broken' implant just saved this family from certain disaster!), not to mention that this isn't so much about the implant as it is about the person wearing it.

It's like saying the gun killed that theoretical serial killer. Not true. It was the person wielding the gun that killed that serial killer. The same can be said for the child being the hero of the day, and not the cochlear implant itself as the HuffPo writer suggests.

Of Course, Say What You Will About American Sign Language (ASL)

As the HuffPo writer said enough. The factor simply wasn't "enough" to save the day. I, however, would make the challenge and ask this question: would the family had survived without it? Better yet, would they have survived long enough without it to discover that this cochlear implant was the way to drive away these aliens? I think not.

Yes, being deaf and knowing how to sign wasn't enough in the end. But they wouldn't have gotten to the end if it wasn't for what the deaf community does on a daily basis better than any of us ever could. Because that's the world they live in. They survive.

We struggle with it the most for them. We victimize them. But in truth, they're not victims.

In A QUIET PLACE, that deaf character -- she's not the victim. But the heroine.

To sum up: go see A QUIET PLACE. And you'll know what it's like. Maybe then you'll relate quite well. But guess what: you're going to be just fine. Even against scary demidog-like aliens.\


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