5 Movies You (Probably) Didn't Know Are Ableist and 5 More That Challenge Ableism

Erica Mones

Ableism, defined as discrimination or oppression based on one's disability or perceived disability, pervades our culture. Fear of disability, misconceptions, and stereotypes about disabled people are so common that most people don't even notice them. Popular movies and television shows perpetuate ableism in ways that go unnoticed by mainstream society and even movie critics. Not sure what this means?

For educational purposes, I compiled this list of movies that perpetuate ableism and ones that challenge it. This does not mean that the movies themselves are bad or the people who created them intended to be ableist. You can still enjoy movies while acknowledging that they rely on ableist premises. As a cinephile myself, I do not intend to "cancel" any of the films mentioned here. Instead, I hope to start a conversation. I also want to acknowledge that all of the disabled characters mentioned in this piece are white and cisgender; Hollywood has a long way to go in terms of depicting intersectional identities.