But Is It Good for The Aspies?

Loyal readers will remember a post I did back in April, when the trailer for Adam first came out, in which I was hopeful about its potential effect on public perceptions of Asperger’s:

I’ll reserve full judgment until I see the movie, but I’m cautiously optimistic that viewers will leave the theater thinking “Asperger’s can be a blessing, not a curse” instead of “people with Asperger’s are really weird.”

Well, the movie has been in limited release for a few weeks now, and is opening wide today. I have a review up at the Prospect and, suffice it so say, I was disappointed:

For all his attention to detail, [writer-director Max] Mayer completely missed this larger, and more dangerous misrepresentation of Asperger’s. Even a performance as nuanced as [Hugh] Dancy’s and a script as careful as Mayer’s cannot prevent the film from delivering a blunt message: Asperger’s may not be all bad, but those with it are certainly not worth dating. Our social awkwardness, it suggests, is not a legitimate difference but an insurmountable obstacle to intimacy. Our occasional inability to express affection is equated with an inability to have affection. A woman in [Adam’s girlfriend] Beth’s position, beginning a relationship with a man with Asperger’s but uncertain where it will lead, will leave the theater determined to break things off. Adam, then, is a funny little beast, a romantic comedy about Asperger’s that leaves no room for romance in the lives of Aspies. Even as it gets our symptoms right, it does not appear to think we deserve love.

Read the rest here. I would add that, while I don’t get into it in the review for obvious reasons, the film’s ending only exacerbates this problem, making Adam more of a child, and his desire for love less worthy of reciprocation.

1 thought on “But Is It Good for The Aspies?

  1. Thanks for posting this on the Prospect site. I have long suspected I may have borderline Asperger’s, and because of the references in your post I’m now looking forward to reading Willey’s and Cowen’s books. (I’ve already put in my online interlibrary loan requests and they’re on their way.)
    When I saw that you had also been the author of The Obama 15 post that I so greatly enjoyed during the campaign, I started Googling around for your other work, so now I am also looking forward to following your blog, which I had not previously known about.
    Kudos on your Kennedy tribute, which was spot-on.
    I’m delighted and curious to see what insights and resources you’ll point me to next. Thanks a bunch.

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