Promising Me Beautiful Lies: How Hollywood Failed My Autism

"Beautiful Lies," an original digital illustration. In the foreground Humphrey Bogart kisses Vivien Leigh. After a famous scene in "Gone with the Wind." Fleming, V., Cukor, G., & Wood, S. 1939, MGM.

Nothing that ANY screen ever showed me… not effing “reality” TV… prepared me for life. As an autistic.

🚨Content note: profanity, opinionated, gratuitous Star Trek ref, scare quotes…

I remember a lot of movies & TV in my life. I gotta believe more than most of my generation. Except maybe fellow autistics.

Why…? School, home, family, nabes on my block, church… Gobs of stress in my early autistic life.

So I spent acres of hours escaping reality. Every day. Either nose-planted-in-book… or eyes-glazed-on-screen. Ya know… zoned-out, dissociative trance. 

Star Trek reboots by the light-yard…

While other kids were hitting the playground. Learning to pick sides, squabble, fib politely, kiss… and make up.

I remember constant struggles with my parents.

Cuz with rare exception, I preferred reading by myself in a library chair. To any human’s company. Especially science or art…

Socializing? Just another parental duty. Another parental disappointment.

Like you can actually force anyone to “make friends.”

SO, I modeled how to act like a human… honestly, a learned role for me.

Hollywood… like any predator or cult leader… smelled my weakness. And was happy to rush in and fill the hole in my life.

Now, humans in movies are easier to understand…

for this adult autistic kid than folks, say… I live with.

Because movie acting is not natural. Not even those Oscar-winning turns of Meryl Streep or Jennifer Lawrence.

It’s highly stylized… Slow. Exaggerated. Lots & lots of long significant “looks.” A “quick read.” To make sure audiences know what’s going on.

Then… There’s the supporting music and camera work. They telegraph what I should feel. And how to interpret actors’ motivations.

No way, no how like real-life humans. Whose conflicting actions and words bewilder me.

Cuz actors get PAID to put across what they’re feeling. But flesh-and-blood humans sweat blood to keep their hearts… and agendas… hidden.

From me.

And ya know? A dark theater is a pretty safe place for strong emotions. 

Surrounded by the comforting presence of humans. Who can’t see me. But share the same experience with me…

For once.

So what’s the problem?

Hollywood sells flattering lies. Spinning unrealistic fantasies of wealth, power, and breaking taboos. Ordered up by Madison Avenue ad agencies…

They tell us we can have it all. Riches. Romance. Effortless witty comebacks.

To keep us yearning for unattainable ideals. And buying gizmos to fill that hole.

Nary a whisper on how to slug it out at the office. Or tougher yet… the family dinner table.

Nothing that screens ever showed me… not fucking “reality” TV… prepared me for life. Not an autistic life.

Especially not…
A human…
slowly turning toward the camera…. 
and telling me exactly…
what’s on their mind.

Never, ever happens on my block. Not my nabes.

Coming soon as an podcast & YouTube segment.

BTW, I have a new episode out to launch Season 3, “Love, Politics & Faking Normal: 3 New Autistic Myths s03e01.” Text/transcript, audio, and captioned video.

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Authentic Autistic Life: 4 Short Stories Fearless, Joyful and Chaotic, s3e2 #AutisticAF Out Loud

  1. Authentic Autistic Life: 4 Short Stories Fearless, Joyful and Chaotic, s3e2
  2. Love, Politics & Faking Normal: 3 New Autistic Myths s03e01
  3. #AutisticRave: Group Processing Disorder. It's a Thing.
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