What could go wrong with a story about three disabled guys that hire a nurse to drive them across the border to lose their virginity at a brothel? Apparently, a couple things. Check out the trailer and we will go from there.
Things start off easily enough. A police officer rolls up on three disabled guys. Two are in wheelchairs and the third is Blind. The officer doesn’t know what to report as he calls in a sit rep, so one of the men states “people with disabilities.” The officer reports “two persons with a disability and a Blind guy.” This prompts the other man in a wheelchair to state, “visually impaired,” so that the officer has to correct himself once more. As this is a trailer, it doesn’t take long to learn that these guys have a hard time when it comes to romance. One even goes as far as stating, “I’m 24 years old. Besides my mouth, about the only other thing that works on my body is my junk.”
On the surface there isn’t anything wrong with a buddy comedy about three guys trying to get laid. The problem here is that these “persons with a disability” aren’t disabled at all. As the synopsis puts it, these three guys are taking a trip to “lose their virginity and embrace their independence.” Since the goal of the movie seems to be to get these guys laid, it’s safe to assume that the two events (virginity and independence) are not mutually exclusive, or at least not for them.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that we’ve seen this story before. We’ve seen the disabled man wanting to lose his virginity and being shunned by the women around him. It’s considered a comedy in most cases, because apparently the situations involved in paying to get someone to touch you are hilarious.
The sad thing is there is nothing wrong with paying for sex, but if this is the only message people are getting about disability they believe it’s the only way we can get sex. To start, it would’ve been better if these characters were not played by Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, and Ravi Patel. They should’ve used actually disabled actors instead. You can’t get authentic portrayals of disability if the actors are not disabled. From brief moments in the trailer, it does appear that there are disabled people in the movie, which makes it all the worse. It is unfortunately reminiscent of American Horror Story: Freak Show, which employed some disabled actors, but the main characters in the Freak Show were non-disabled.
We often say nothing about us, without us, but making us background characters in our own story is often as bad as not including us at all.
Further, it’d be nice to see stories about disabled people losing their virginity that don’t always involve us having to pay for it. It’s becoming a central theme where this seems to be the only way disabled people can get laid. There are many disabled people involved in long-term relationships, short-term relationships, polyamorous relationships, one-night stands, booty calls, and casual sex – just like nondisabled people. There are others who prefer to abstain from sexual activity Because actually disabled people were not cast as the main actors, these actors have no idea of the harm they are causing. For example, part of the punchline above is that they insist on using people-first language to correct the officer. What they don’t realize is that more and more of us are starting to use identity-first language. The real joke of this film is that this isn’t what disabled people want. Nobody but disabled people understand the nuance of telling our stories.
This one misses the mark, in so many different ways. It’s just more about us without us, and in the end it doesn’t even do the disability community justice.