Sunday, January 13, 2008

What's Bugging Seth Bugs Me!

Talk about the irony of this DVD titled "What's Bugging Seth" produced by Eli Steele who himself is Deaf hired a hearing actor, Ross Thomas, to play as a Deaf person. What makes it more ironic is that Steele actually hired an actress, Amy Purdy who is a double amputee to play as an amputee person. What's going on? Don't tell me that it is hard to find talented Deaf actor since there are many Deaf people who use hearing aids, cochlear implants and have spoken English skills. What is wrong with them? I just don't get it.

In this film, presumably no signs are used which may explain why it is not a priority for Steele to hire a Deaf actor but he could have at least hired someone who is capable of speech using hearing aids or cochlear implants. Steele admitted that he struggled with his Deaf identity and attempted to put it away. He didn't want to be identified as a Deaf director and just wanted to show the world that a Deaf person can function like a hearing person.

What I find it interesting is that Thomas had to learn how to speak like a "hard-of-hearing" person and wear a fake cochlear implant before the production of the film so that he can develop a taste of character. He reported that he noticed how people treated him differently when he wore a fake implant and pretended his not-so-perfect speech. That's sad really.

One more last irony here about the quote by Steele:

"The ultimate irony that Seth discovers is that it is not until he finally accepts his deafness that he is truly free to be whatever he wants and to love whomever he wants. And it wasn’t until I embraced my deafness as an integral part of myself that I was able to make “What’s Bugging Seth,” and, in the process, establish myself as a filmmaker."

If that is the case, he could have hired a Deaf actor to prove his point. Now that he embraces his deafness, I just hope that he will come to mind to hire a Deaf actor next time when a Deaf character pops in.


brenster- said...

perhaps, it's really that hard to find Deaf with CI or hearing aids that speaks very well for that role. if CI is really that GREAT like what others have gone "rah-rah's" about it, why not have that real person with CI acting in that role!

i'm wary of the message that people may be getting from that film. then they would want their Deaf children to speak well like "Seth" in that movie, but in reality that role was played by hearing person.

it's unfortunate to know about this film, because it means it's still nothing new! i'd like to know that the attitude is evolving already but i guess we've not been at that level, yet.

michele said...


That is interesting and a thought-provoking one you provided. Perhaps maybe with a stroke of luck, you could interview Adrien Steele and get his viewpoints of why he didnt get a deaf actor for his film. Then maybe we will understand why he did it this way and at the same time, he could get some feedback/suggestions from the deaf community to hire a deaf actor if he makes another film.

Barbara, how did you find out about this film? just wondering.

Anonymous said...

well, if you support deaf in actor!

so what?

important respect in the movie of director, so got it? u NEVER GOT RESPECT, ok ? got it,

we are human.

don't important about deaf or whenever..

important to know about in English is 1#, period.

todos la vie said...

If Eli Steele wasn't content with himself, he would naturally make a movie starting with the title, "what's bugging..." So, is it the theme of the whole movie, being deaf a bugger? Did he make a "deaf" person to be played by an actual hearing person to project to the world that deaf people are normal but they are bugged, when in fact they are already normal? I think his poetic device already began with the title. It's probably geared for a hearing audience, rather than a whole audience. I haven't seen the film, but it looks like he made the deaf card the antagonist?

Ella Mae Lentz said...

good critique. I enjoy good and healthy Deaf-centric film/book critique. Keep it up. And hope others do so too.

Barb DiGi said...

Brenster: Exactly my point! But again, having a hearing actor for that role may be a blessing in disguise.

Michele: Yes, I will try to get a hold of him and see what he says. I found out about this film from a PR person whose friend is one of the mainstreamed Deaf directors.

Anon: Please observe the rules posted to use your nickname next time. You are welcome to express your opinions but I am not able to accept anon comments. Anyway, it may not be important to you but it is to some people if not the most. I am not sure what do you mean about respecting the director just because he is the director? I don't have to agree with the director's choice which is why I am expressing my thoughts on my vlog. However, I agree that it is important to know about English also ASL but do pray tell if there were such Deaf individuals who are capable of English, especially in spoken form, why weren't they qualified enough for this role? Looks like you are not getting my point.

Barb DiGi said...

Todos la vie: You presented an interesting view! LOL!

Ella: Thanks! Yes, we are capable of being critical thinkers not having to be passive and say nothing about it. There are many critiques out there so why couldn't we as Deaf community members do the same? It is sad to see this anon 12:19 pm above to emphasize respect to the movie director which is not the point. To make a critique doesn't mean I don't respect the director.

brenster- said...

Barb- yes, exactly to analyze something doesn't mean lack of respect toward the director.

we, the deaf community, is expected to be on our best behavior, to accept things no matter if we do not agree with them, always smile, always praise other kinds of deaf people.

if we disagree, we are not respecting them, we are jealous of them, and we are angry and bitter people. oh please!

they, on the contrast, are praised for criticizing the deaf community. they are allowed to generalize the whole deaf community based on experiences with a few deaf persons, etc etc.

i know, this is not the whole point in your current post. :-)

back to the point, true, true about "could be a blessing in disguise."

Jean Boutcher said...

Très intéressant! Perhaps you would consider arranging an interview Mr. Steele. It would
not harm to try, Barb.

mochame said...

When was that DVD movie made "what's bugging seth?" Sound like around 1980 to 1990's????

Anonymous said...

OH Brother!!!!!!!! feel like in Twilight Zone night mare as in Ironic way!
Lol ......Lol


CNW said...

Did you actually see the movie?

Barb DiGi said...

Jean: I just emailed Eli so hopefully he is able to respond.

Mochame: I believe the movie is made in 2007. Sad, that this still happens today.

Davy: LOL..Twlight Zone..we are living in a backward warped world, heh.

cnw: My critique is about not having a Deaf actor to play a Deaf role, not about the movie. However, the story looks interesting and I am curious about it. I would buy the DVD and watch it someday.

Ella Mae Lentz said...

want to add about film critiques...I believe it's the job of the film director/producer to deal with critics not the other way around. Brenster said it right...thanks, Brenster.

Barb, you impress me by your efforts putting extra time in your very very busy schedule to make contact with the director. I guess since the director is Deaf, it'd be nice to have some more personal contact with him.

But actually, it's not necessary. Look at the DeafRead comments... those bloggers/English commenters that harshily criticized Deaf people who spoke up in name of justice NEVER made efforts to contact those Deaf people directly and have a personal dialouge. In fact several of them when i as a vlogger invited to have a private VP conversation to explore their comments further, declined....and two common reasons are: "my VP is broken or I don't have a VP yet...or I don't have my VP set up yet, etc." or "I rather leave it in the open IN ENGLISH of course (avoiding private conversations that could resolve some misunderstanding with dignity and respect??)"...

Again, as I said before, I look forward to seeing more Deaf-centric film/TV/book/political critiques. thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm disturbed to see so many hearing and oral bloggers of DeafRead write negatively about deaf people's English. Ironically, most of their blogs and comments need more editing. Those who aren't Deaf allies have no business to blog or comment.

Barb DiGi said...

Hi Ella,

Yes, we are all busy and it is always a challenge for us. When I did the critique, I was signing out my concerns of this irony. Then out of the blue, I had some luck finding Eli's contact address and wrote a personal note to him. You and I are strong communicators and like to look for ways to get certain issues resolved but it looks like some individuals are not able to handle it. We just offer our cake as they can either eat it or leave it.

Anon 2:08 (nickname please :))

I totally understand your concerns that there are particular individuals making a mockery of some Deaf's English's skills and it is valid to raise up this point. I think it would be healthy to discuss this topic in the DeafRead b/vlogs. Thanks.

Cy said...

I live in one of the cities that they used for this film. I also went to the film opening in Monterey, California. The cast & the director came & there was an ASL interpreter on stage & we could ask them questions.

I wish they had used some ASL Deaf people in the film so that we could see how a lip reading Deaf person would talk to a signing only Deaf person.

If you haven't seen this film, you can buy it at for $19.99. Yes, it has captions & subtitles.